Northern Independent Petroleum marketers have lamented that the Federal Government through the Petroleum Equalization Fund is yet to settle about N50 billion Bridging Claim for over nine months, an incident that forced many of them out of the business.
The marketers expressed worries that failure to settle their claims may lead to scarcity of fuel in the North as the majority of its members run out of capital, hence could not buy and transport fuel to the region.
This is contained in a statement by the Forum’s chairman, Alhaji Musa Maikifi, and issued to newsmen in Kano on Sunday.
According to the statement, Maikifi made the lamentation during a meeting with the Forum’s members from the nine depots across the Northern states, at Ni’ima Guest Palace in Kano on Saturday.
He said for the past nine months they had made efforts to get their money paid but in vain.
“If this continues in this way so many of us will have to close down our fuel stations. This will add to the fuel scarcity in the region because the marketers have no capital.
“The Federal Government couldn’t settle our claims of over N50 billion. We met the authority involved and they promised to pay us but yet they haven’t. So, that is why we are here to plead with them to pay us our unsettled claims so that we can continue our business smoothly,” he lamented.
According to him, they established the Northern Independent Petroleum Marketers Forum to ensure that they always have a single voice speaking on their behalf, and that the IPMAN’s leadership issue has added to their load, which their Forum is prepared to solve.
Alhaji Zarma Mustapha, the Forum’s Secretary, said the bridging claims were supposed to be paid within two weeks but have been unpaid for months, and that around 3000 traders from the north are engaged.
“One thing that will surprise you is that this money does not belong to Government. It is generated from the consumers that purchased fuel from us marketers and the NNPC gathered the money and then pay us through PEF. But still they hold our money.
“Presently you can see that there is fuel scarcity here and there in the north, and if we enter January-February without our claims settled, I assure you that we can’t do it, we can’t do the business.”
He requested President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum to step in and help them keep their business afloat.