The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), yesterday faulted the claims of the out-going Chief Operating Officer, Downstream of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, that its members accessed foreign exchange at N305 per a dollar for the importation of petrol into the country since 2017.
Olufemi Adewole, Executive Secretary of the marketers, said that it was true at various instances within the lifespan of the immediate past management of the NNPC, marketers were offered foreign exchange to import aviation fuel (ATK) and diesel (AGO) at N330/$1 or N346/$1 but no marketer accessed forex at N305/$1 as claimed and at no time did foreign exchange sourced for fuel importation by petroleum marketers through NNPC-intervention sum up to $7.2bn.
He disclosed that his members ceased to import petrol before the 4th quarter of 2017 largely due to the rising cost of crude oil in the international market and marketers’ inability to access foreign exchange at the official Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate.
He noted that this precipitated the fuel scarcity the nation experienced in December 2017 and far into 2018.
According to him, NNPC at that time and till date, assumed the responsibility of the importer of last resort because it is the only corporation that can access the foreign exchange proceeds of crude oil exporters and utilises same to import PMS at the official Central Bank rate and thereafter sell to petroleum marketers.
He said that the $7.2bn purportedly applied for and received by petroleum marketers, as claimed by the NNPC chieftain, was not accessed by members of DAPPMA, who would have extended supplies to all corners of the nation hence NNPC may need to further expatiate on the comment.
‘’We dare say even the presidential directives to the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, to receive payments on fuel laden vessels in the local naira currency from petroleum marketers based on the N305/$1, which the Central Bank assured that it would provide, was never implemented by the federal agencies for reasons best known to them.
“Petroleum marketers within the fold of DAPPMAN would continue to engage the Federal Government and its agencies on the need to create an even playing field for all industry practitioners for the development of the nation’s economy and advancement of the nation’’.
Besides, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), has said total deregulation of the downstream sub-sector remains the best option, as marketers have not been able to get foreign exchange at N305 to a dollar for importation of petrol
Its chairman, Mr Tunji Oyebanji, made the clarifications in Abuja.
He said: ’’I don’t know who is getting it at that 305, so, if NNPC is given some marketers at that rate, I want to believed is not a transparent thing. I don’t know who is getting it. If we are getting it 305 for importation of petrol, we will be importing but we are not getting it, when the scheme started, that was the plan and CBN was the one handling it.
“Eventually, the NNPC took over it, and we don’t know who is getting it at N305. So, maybe he can enlighten us by publishing the names of those who are getting it,” he said.
Oyebanji, who also the managing director of 11Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc), said: We are not importing petrol at all but if we want to import Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) or Aviation Turbine Kerosene (aviation fuel), we have to go and buy at N330 or N346.
“You can’t compete because the NNPC is bringing everything at N305; so, it is not a level-playing field at all. If we are getting forex at 305 may be, we be able to import but again technically, for the country as a whole does it truly makes sense, in the market dollars is being sold at N360.
“So what Nigeria should be earning for every dollar it generates should be N360 that’s really the market value so every time you are selling at N305 you are also subsiding and it’s a loss to the country. So, we all have to determine what we want to do.
He said currently there is no other alternative for marketers to commence importation of petrol until Dangote refinery come on stream, which might ease supply and reduced fuel importation.
“Marketers can’t import fuel because if the price remains at this level it was, how can marketers import when the landing cost is more than pump price, for now, only NNPC can absorb that.”
“And indirectly it’s you and I that are bearing the cost because the money would have been put in other things, we are all used to drive with cheap fuel that’s what we seem to like.The truth of the matter is that deregulation is not an easy subject because there obviously political ramification, if it was easy, it would have been done a long time ago’’.
He emphasised the need for the Federal Government to adequately prepare for deregulation as well introduce some palliatives with a view to enabling Nigerians enjoy the benefits of the policy.