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Fuel Crisis: Marketers Blackmailing Nigerians, Says Okonjo-Iweala


Fuel Crisis

Fuel Crisis

COORDINATING Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, (Dr.) Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has explained that her refusal to sign off the sum of N159 billion foreign exchange differential claims by petroleum products marketers without verification is behind the current crippling products scarcity in the country, as the marketers have refused to supply products even after they have been settled outstanding debt.

Describing the development as a blackmail on the country, Okonjo-Iweala said the marketers’ action as being in bad faith, as they had the previous day after the settlement of their supply claims promised Nigerians of resumption of products supply, only to back track the next day.

She made the clarification yesterday when she met with finance reporters in Abuja, as part of activities ramping off her tour of duty as Nigeria’s finance minister for a second time.

Her words: “ Do you expect me to sign off N159 billion of Nigeria’s scare resources without verification to oil marketers? I cannot do that. And I think their action is in bad faith and a blackmail on the country because since December last year till now, we have paid them over N500 billion because we prioritized payment of fuel subsidy, even in the face of declining revenue of government.

We insisted that there must be verification of the foreign exchange differentials claims because there have been a lot of scams in the subsidy fund and we agreed with the marketers and set up a committee on that, only for them after assuring the whole world of continuous product supply, to do a u-turn and insist that the claim must be settled without verification. This action, I think, is a blackmail.”

The Minister also wondered why the marketers are now insisting that all their claims, which are normally a roll on, be paid now when it is not that government is shutting down.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had recently, as part of incentives to marketers to encourage them continue to supply products, promised to pay the foreign exchange differentials, which had accumulated and risen marketers’ indebtedness to bankers, following naira devaluation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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