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Marketers project six-month fuel scarcity

 The supply hitches associated with the distribution of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, may persist till June this year, oil marketers stated on Wednesday.

Nigeria’s downstream oil sector has been grappling with cases of incessant petrol scarcity since last year.

 The sole importer of the commodity – Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, has repeatedly complained of the enormous burden of shouldering fuel subsidy for the country.

On Monday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said NNPC was selling petrol at a loss because of its mandate from the Federal Government as regards fuel subsidy

  “If you are a businessman, look at it from this perspective, that you are now in the business where you are mandated to sell at a loss to the public. That is not an easy job, I must tell you,” the minister stated.

Last week, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government had budgeted about N3.6tn for fuel subsidy till June 2023.

Reacting to the development, oil marketers stated on Wednesday that the fuel supply crisis in many parts of the country that often leads to fuel scarcity, might persist till June, based on the government’s plan to end petrol subsidy in that month

 The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that fuel imports and subsidy were making Nigerians suffer.

He said, “This issue of subsidy and the importation of petroleum

   products are the major reasons why we are suffering like this and having epileptic supply of PMS. This may drag till the current administration leaves in May or till June this year.

“The exchange rate is affecting fuel imports, which is also why the cost of petroleum products are high. We use too much naira to chase the few dollars that are available. So the solution is for us to refine our crude here and get our depots working.”

He added, “Also, we should note that most times when an administration is leaving, there is usually scarcity of products. It happened during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“This is because suppliers will be very weary of selling petroleum products so that their debts will not be carried over to the next administration. Successive governments have suffered this epileptic distribution of petroleum products during transition to a new government.

“The government is winding up, and if you are a supplier you have to be careful in terms of supplying petroleum products. Remember that when Jonathan was there, marketers who were supplying products stopped and went on strike, demanding that they must be paid their arrears.”

The President, Petroleum Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, also stated that the availability of petrol for marketers to distribute had remained an issue of concern.

 “Let there be products to sell. That is what we are yearning for. Once that problem is sorted, then others shall be addressed too,” he stated.

Commenting on the issue, a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr. Sam Nzekwe, told our correspondent that the crisis in the downstream oil sector would be best addressed when Nigeria’s refineries become functional.

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