The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has advocated immediate demolition of over 2,000 identified as ‘illegal’ filling stations operating across the country, to check the persistent scarcity of petroleum products.
The Chairman of Board of Trustees of IPMAN, Aminu Abdulkadir, gave the suggestion when he fielded questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr. Abdulkadir, who was one of the participants at the recent meeting of critical stakeholders in the nation’s oil sector, said the demolition of the retail outlets had become necessary to ensure availability of the products.
The meeting, which was presided over by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, was convened by the presidency to find lasting solutions to problems of petroleum scarcity and diversion of the commodity in the country.
He said the exercise, if carried out by the federal government, would also serve as deterrent to those who might want to frustrate federal government’s efforts towards ensuring stability and sanity in the oil sector.
“But what is true is that there are people who are not licensed marketers, who have access to these products and they are doing what they like best because they want to profiteer from it, thereby constituting these problems for government, marketers and Nigerians at large.
“And these over 2,000 unlicensed marketers are neither IPMAN nor DAPMAN members.
“These are people who are lawless. They are people who are also associated with bunkerers and these bunkerers are being encouraged because there are buyers and who are those buyers.
“The buyers are those people who are constructing filling stations without any documentation. They are not members of NOMAN, they are not members to IPMAN, they are not members to DAPMAN and they are not under the retail of the NNPC.
“That is why at the critical stakeholders’ meeting I suggested that such petrol stations should be demolished.
“I also reemphasised this at the National Assembly that such illegal retail outlets should be demolished,’’ he added.
He, however, said that those illegal retail outlets, particularly the ones along the nation’s borders which might meet national requirements, could be converted to NNPC outlets.
He stated that such retail outlets should be managed by the Nigeria Labour Congress through transparency arrangements, to ensure effective and efficient supply of the products in the affected areas.
“I will recommend that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) should be given these illegal outlets along the borders to manage them.
“If we operate this business with transparency, everybody will be happy.’’
On full deregulation of the oil sector, Mr. Abdulkadir, who was one time National President of IPMAN, said government should consider many factors before taking decision on complete deregulation of the sector.
According to him, prices of petroleum products always affect the quality of life of the citizens.
He, however, lauded the government for its decision to maintain the current pump price of petrol at N145 per litre, adding that some drastic measures put in place by the NNPC and PPMC would ensure stability in supply chain of the commodity.
“You see this regulation or deregulation, NNPC as a national oil company has two responsibilities; one is to run the company on economical indexes, the other one is the social responsibility because it is a national oil company.
“But with the position government has taken now, we have seen that both the Federal Government and NNPC have taken a strong position to resolve these issues once and for all.
“And we also, the genuine marketers, are collaborating with them; we are augmenting all their shortfalls to see that they succeed, if they succeed we succeed and they fail we all fail.
“We have colossal investments in this country for God sake, we have colossal investments in trillions not billions. So, no one will like to wash down his or her investment,’’ he said.
Mr. Abdulkadir also commended the government for ensuring security of life and property of all citizens, saying that marketers had been carrying out their lawful duties across the country without fear of being attacked by criminals.
The chairman added, “before this time we were afraid in this country; if actually tomorrow one of your oil terminals would not be burnt down by Boko Haram or your filling station would not be gutted into fire by Boko Haram.
“Today, we are grateful to the government that they were able to secure all these.
“If for nothing, we should be able to give government maximum cooperation and support which we are giving.’’
Mr. Abdulkadir also said IPMAN is partnering with Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, PPMC, to expose those marketers selling petrol above pump price of N145 per litre.
He disclosed that he had already received a letter from the PPMC authorising him to report any oil depot found to be selling petroleum products above the ex-depot price.
“I have since received a letter from the MD, PPMC, informing me or instructing me that any depot that we found to be selling above ex-depot price should be reported to him so that he will take serious punitive measure against such depot or oil terminal in this country.
“I think this is the first time I’m seeing such level of transparency from the side of NNPC and the PPMC and therefore, we are all out to ensure that we collaborate and augment all their shortfalls,’’ he said.
On persistent petrol queues in Abuja and other parts of the country in spite massive movement of the commodity to retail outlets by the PPMC, Mr. Abdulkadir exonerated both NNPC and PPMC from the blame.
According to him, Nigerians have continued to engage in panic buying in spite government’s assurance of the availability of the products.
He also blamed some middlemen whom he said were fond of hoarding the products in anticipation of possible increase in official price.
“You see one thing with petroleum products once there is misinformation to the public, the effect is such that the consumers, the retailers and people who have no even business with the oil would all come out and converge on it and add pressure to this commodity. How?
“If somebody has three cars in his house and he knows he can fuel his tanks anytime he will just buy 30 or 40 litres.
“Today every Nigerian is buying maximally full tank for all his vehicles thereby distorting real national consumption.
“National consumption has to do with product to be utilised that date, not for you to store 500 litres, 1,000 litres what are you going to do with it? This is one.
“Secondly, where there is also information that government is going to increase pump price, and also the middlemen come in to buy this product and stock it elsewhere, and this is outside the capacity of the NNPC.
“So these are the situations bedevilling this country,’’ he further explained.
According to him, the NNPC has been injecting about 50million litres of petrol daily as against the actual national consumption of between 29 to 35 million litres daily.
He said: “The whole Nigerians are responsible for these chaotic situations because as of today I know that if (we have) our national consumption is peaked at between 29 to 35million per day but NNPC is injecting a cargo daily that is averagely about 49 to 50million litres.
“Where are these products? Who is consuming them?
“So, it would take some time for these products to saturate all these empty legal and illegal tanks before these queues will be totally eliminated.
“So, wherever you see queues are resurfacing is as a result of panic buying and the new middlemen who not licensed to deal with this problem will also come in and buy off these products and hoard them for profiteering.
“But I know with my experience in this industry there is limit to which they can stop it.
“I’m sure with all these efforts on ground very soon all these empty tanks would be filled up and they will have no choice but to bring them out or there will be nowhere to stock again as NNPC is injecting these products as they are collaborating with critical stakeholders like IPMAN.’’
He, therefore, reassured Nigerians that IPMAN in collaboration with other stakeholders would soon restore normalcy in the supply chain of the petroleum products, saying fuel queues would be eliminated completely.
“Now all these filling stations would be filled up and we will come out of this situation, it will not take time with the way things are going now I’m assuring you.
“I’m assuring Nigerians this situation would not linger anymore.’’
He revealed that about 20 members of the IPMAN had so far been sanctioned for various petrol related offences, saying the organisation’s internal monitoring unit had been made more effective to ensure efficient monitoring of delivery of products at rightful retail outlets.
“I want to say expressly clear that marketers’ internal monitoring team is more effective than any other monitoring team because in our own case if we are given certain volume to take to retail outlets we know which terminal that product will be kept as directed by the MD, PPMC.
“We also know which marketers are taking these products to what destination; which state.
“So, we monitor the delivery of these products right from the depots to the retail outlets.”
On the exorbitant prices of petroleum products in the North-eastern parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Abdulkadir identified security challenges as factors responsible for the hike in the prices of the commodities.
According to him, in spite the improvement in security situations marketers are still avoiding sending their trucks to the region.
“But the challenge here in case of places like Maiduguri as being mentioned, this is a state that has security challenges.
“The challenges there are even beyond petroleum products. How many marketers, how many truckers are even willing to go there. This is the question.
“So, it is not about somebody diverting but it is about security challenges.
“Except the people who are indigenes of that location are volunteering to take products there because even the indigenes they know their routes they have to calculate their risks before they do that.’’