The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has warned that fuel scarcity would not end in Nigeria soon.
According to the union, the country will also not reap the full benefits of being an oil producing nation by abandoning local refining of petroleum products for importation.
President of NUPENG, Prince William Akporeha, who spoke, weekend, in Ibadan, Oyo State, at 5th Quadrennial Delegates Conference, QDC, of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of NUPENG, blasted governors of the Niger Delta for not investing in local refining of fuel but airline and other areas, despite having crude oil at their backyard.
He decried the frequent fuel scarcity in the country, insisting that scarcity would not end soon because of government’s deliberate policy of importation rather than local refining.
Akporeha said: “As tanker drivers, our job is to distribute petroleum products whenever available to every nook and cranny across the country. We can only distribute these products when they are available and we are always ready and will continue to do so.
‘’But if the products are not available, there is nothing we can do. We find it unacceptable whenever we are blamed for scarcity of the products across the country. We hate the buck passing by those concerned, who failed to make the products available.
“We cannot understand why the government has refused to invest in local refining of petroleum products. I can tell you that scarcity of fuel will continue in the country in as much as we depend on importation of these products.
‘’As a nation, we have no control of the international market environment because petroleum products are international products. The vagaries of the international market are what we are suffering today as seen in the high and rising costs of fuel globally. Nigeria is the only oil producing country that depends on importation of products. Refining is not a rocket science. “
Earlier, outgoing National Chairman of PTD and National Trustee of NUPENG, Otunba Salimon Oladiti, commended members and NUPENG national leaders for their support during his eight years tenure.
While reeling out over 12-point achievements, Oladiti expressed happiness that the capacity training organised programme for tanker drivers annually, in collaboration with Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, in Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna, among others, had helped to reduce accident involving tanker drivers.
He said: “My concerns and worries for safety of lives of tanker drivers dated back to my younger days as a tanker driver. As soon as I assumed office during my first tenure in 2014, I introduced a policy that will inculcate discipline among our members, especially in the area of night traveling.
‘’We launched a vigorous campaign to ban night movement of petroleum products. Today, the ban on night travelling has saved lives and reduced drastically the rate of accidents especially at night.”
Petroleum marketers threaten to down tool over unpaid bridging claims
Meanwhile, the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum, yesterday, threatened to down tool over unpaid bridging claims to their members by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA.
The forum’s chairman, Musa Maikifi, issued the threat in Kano, yesterday, while reacting to claims by the NMDPRA and its Executive Officer, Farouk Ahmad, that marketers had been paid N74 billion within the past seven months, which he described as untrue.
He, however, gave the agency an ultimatum till end of month to pay up or marketers would go on strike.
He said: “The claim that Mr. Farouk Ahmad made on the 29th of last month that he has been paying Independent Petroleum Marketers bridging claims to the tune of N42 billion is not true. A couple of months ago, he paid some selected marketers huge amount of money, may be he was referring to those marketers.
“Our general marketers, comprising nine depots under my leadership: Kano, Kaduna, Gusau, Suleja, Minna, Maiduguri, Gombe, Yola and, Jos, did not get such money.
“All the money we are using to lift the product are now with him, so, in the next few months, we won’t be able to buy the little product people are seeing now. We can’t even afford to buy it because all the money is now under his custody.
“We have given him up to the end of this month. If he refuses to pay us our money, we are going to take an action that will not be good for him, the north and Nigeria at large.”
“Before now, we use to receive our money in a month, two or three months at most, but now, it’s more than a year. The last payment we received was May last year.
“If nothing comes up by the end of this month, we are going to collaborate with our mother association, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, to make sure we take serious action that will not be good for him and everybody.’’
Recall that the management of NMDPRA had on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, said It had paid marketers N74 billion claims within the past seven months.