By Mustapha Sumaila
A financial expert, Mr Tony Edeh, has urged the Federal Government to resolve issues with oil marketers to ensure availability of fuel during the Yuletide.
Edeh, the Managing Director of Norrenberger Financial Group, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Norrenberger is an Integrated Financial Services Group that operates a customer-focused business model, offering clients a comprehensive range of financial products and services.
This includes Funds and Investment Management, Structured and Alternative Finance, SME Funding, Foreign Exchange and Business Advisory Services.
The oil marketers had on Nov. 30, threatened to disrupt fuel supply nationwide if the Federal Government failed to clear the N800 billion debt it owed them within seven day.
According to the marketers, at the expiration of the ultimatum, they will cease operations and withdraw their employees from all the depots across the country.
The threat was issued by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs).
The oil marketers’ legal adviser, Mr. Patrick Etim, said that they were forced to resort to the measure because banks had taken over their investments and assets because of the huge debt.
Among other things, the marketers kicked against the move to pay the debts through promissory notes, stressing that following the circumstances they found themselves, cash payment was the most realistic way out of the situation.
According to the financial expert, December is usually a celebratory period for Nigerians, hence threat to go on strike by oil marketers would disrupt economic activities.
He said that December was also a period to boost the economy due to increased activities taking place nationwide, adding that fuel scarcity scare could cause widespread panic.
Edeh noted that fuel scarcity could also affect the economy as most people would be grounded, in addition to the unavoidable hike in the prices of goods and commodities..
“Though, their reason for requesting full payment during this period or any other period is justifiable, I do not think they will get all they are asking for, and they know this too.
“For the adverse effects or the untold hardship that the strike will cause, an agreement could be reached by both parties, some payment made and more promissory notes handed out but full payment is most probably out of the question.
“Looking at this from a political stand point, a strike or fuel-scarcity scare could be productive for the oil marketers.
“As the election draws near, the President could pay off the fuel subsidy debt and overturn a nationwide fuel scarcity as a political move that may leave a good impression on his prospective voters.
“I believe making such a threat at this yuletide period by the oil marketers just like they did in 2017, is a tactical maneuver to pressure the Federal Government into ceding to their demands’’ he explained.