Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
Nigerians may be in for another agonising fuel scarcity in the country as the Depot And Petroleum Products Marketers Association Of Nigeria(DAPPMAN) says it will sack its staff, numbering over 10,000, and shut down all its depots in less than 14 days over N650 billion debt owed by the federal government.
The association said the decision was taken because its members could no longer continue operations due to the huge debt.
Olufemi Adewole, DAPPAM’s Executive Secretary in a letter dated February 20 and sent to Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources lamented that lending banks in conjuction with the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are in the process of auctioning the properties provided by marketers as security for loans.
The association had in an initial letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, DAPPMAN said members could no longer access bank funds for their operations and gave a 21-day notice beginning January 24 before it would lay off workers.
He said; “In the light of the foregoing, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) members do not have any other option open to us to forestall increasing debt burden of borrowing to pay staff than to immediately commence massive staff disengagement,” the letter read.
“The unfortunate primary fallout of this step is the likely shutdown of all DAPPMAN depots nationwide due to lack of man power to operate same pending the ime the federal government will pay off its indebtedness to petroleum marketers.
“This unfortunately will have a multiplier effect on the nationwide supply and distribution of petroleum products which presently is a struggle.
“This letter serves as a fresh 14-day reminder from today and an opportunity for the federal government tiers and its agencies to speedily approve and pay off its remaning subsidy era indebtedness to all our members and indeed all petroleum marketing companies.”
“These debts came about as a result of: The foreign exchnage differentials which arose as a reult of the initial devaluation of the naira (by the last administration) from the initial N165/$
“The interest componnent that arose due to delayed reimbursemnet also by the same administration which the federal government had approved for payment to marketers but which was not fully settled by the appropriate federal governmnet agencies.
“The second forex differential component and obviously the largest chunk is due to the last but further devaluation of the naira from N195 to N305 to $1, while he federal government agencies had based their reimbursement calculation on N197/$; this devaluation left petroleum marketers within our association with additional unplanned debt burden in excess of N300bn.
“As a result of the above, the downstream sector as a whole, has been saddled with a debt burden of over N650bn which keeps rising alongside the previous debts because the banks keep charging interests and will continue to do so until the total debt is fully liquidated.”