CO-ORDINATING Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has explained the steps the Federal Government has taken to ensure that Nigerians do not return to the harrowing days of petroleum products scarcity.
She said between April and August this year, the government through domestic borrowing had raised N42.666 billion to pay fuel marketers to make products available in the country.
The minister reacted yesterday to the claims by some marketers that they had embarked on strike because the government had failed to pay them for fuel imports. She described the allegations as inaccurate.
Through her Special Assistant on Communications, Mr. Paul Nwabwiukwu, the minister said the true position was that the government had been meeting its obligations to the marketers for all legitimate claims.
She said: “For instance, between April and May 2012, batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled through the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes and other relevant documentation.
“In addition, since the directive by the Coordinating Minister to the DMO to continue payments of all verified claims, N25.6 billion worth of claims have been fully settled with the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes.
“In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) claims, Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.666 billion have been issued to 31oil marketers.”
Okonjo-Iweala however said the claims by marketers who have been recommended for further investigation by the Aig-Imoukhuede Presidential Committee were yet to be paid.
Payments or sanctions to this category of marketers, she explained, would be determined by the outcome of investigations.
Against this background, the minister said it was clear that the strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee that investigated fuel subsidy payments.
“Their obvious intention is to blackmail the Federal Government in order to escape sanctions for the crimes they have committed. Nigerians should not be deceived by their antics.
Such tactics will not succeed because the Federal Government is determined to ensure that persons and organisations, which did the wrong things do not get away with wrong actions and wrong behaviour.
“As we have communicated severally in the last few months, payment of marketers whose claims have been verified will continue to go on in a consistent and structured way which protects the best interests of the country. All marketers who have genuine issues to raise regarding their claims are encouraged to come forward for discussions or clarifications”, she said.