In a review meeting held in Kano, the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum expressed deep concern over an unpaid sum of N250 billion in outstanding bridging claims. The Chairman of the forum, Musa Yahya Maikifi, highlighted that this unresolved issue has pushed several members to the brink of closure, raising the possibility of fuel scarcity in some parts of the country.
According to Maikifi, the N250 billion funds were critical for sustaining their businesses and ensuring the smooth transport and supply of petroleum products to various outlets. However, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) had failed to disburse these funds for an entire year, leaving the forum’s members financially handicapped.
Jarma Mustapha, the Secretary of the forum, emphasized that the outstanding bridging claims date back to the era of the defunct Petroleum Equalization Fund, which had never been settled. The implementation of the new deregulation regime added to their challenges, as it caused a lack of capacity and capital due to funds being tied up with the defunct fund.
The forum urgently called upon President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene and ensure the prompt payment of all outstanding claims up to May 30, 2023. These funds were essential for their members to access adequate capital and remain viable in their operations.
Mustapha clarified that the funds for bridging claims were contributed by consumers and collected by the marketers, who then remit them to the NNPC. These funds, pooled into the Equalization Fund, were meant to stabilize and equalize petroleum prices across the country.
While the forum is committed to pursuing diplomatic means to resolve the issue, Mustapha warned that they could not guarantee the sustainability of such efforts. If the situation persists, the forum might resort to drastic measures, including withdrawing their services. However, they emphasized that they do not wish for such a scenario and called upon the government to take urgent action to address their concerns.
In light of the significance of the petroleum industry to the nation’s economy and the potential impact on fuel supply, the forum urged the government to consider their support for deregulation policies and act swiftly to address the situation.