Sunny Nkpe, Chairman, System 2E, Eastern Zone, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) and Peter Esele, former Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, have faulted the 48-hour ultimatum issued by the Department of State Service (DSS) to petroleum marketers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), challenging the security agency to investigate activities of cabals in the downstream sector.
The two personalities made this known during a live telecast on Channels Television monitored by EnergyDay on Monday.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had in a 48-hour ultimatum that expired last weekend called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), major oil marketers, and other stakeholders in the downstream sector to resolve the ongoing fuel crisis and make the product available within days.
EnergyDay’s check showed that the situation has failed to achieve major impacts as the queues are still recording across the country, while the product is sold to motorists and other users at ridiculous prices.
Sunny Nkpe, PETROAN Chairman in his remark, urged the DSS to go after the major marketers and private depot owners allegedly responsible for the supply of the product across the country, whom he described as a cartel dictating the flow of the product.
He blamed the cartel for hoarding petrol thereby frustrating the supply chain while leaving another independent marketer at the mercy of third-party depot operators who sell to willing buyers at ridiculous prices.
According to him, the activities of the cabals and collaborators in the downstream supply chain are the reasons why members of PETROAN are currently lifting the product at the ex-depot price of N220-N250, instead of N148.71, being the official rate.
The PETROAN Chairman insisted that the importation of petrol within the last six months by the NNPC has remained constant without any shortfall, interrogating the reason for distribution constraints.
He also blamed the supply crisis on NNPC for being selective in handing down ATP (Authority to Pay) to the marketers.
He said, “The threat issued by the DSS won’t change anything. If they are serious they should start from the source. They should go to the depots, the PDOs,and the private depot operators and find out what’s going on there because that’s where we are getting products from for now.
“Until the cabal in that area is handled and taken care of, we cannot get any reduction or even fairness in the distribution of petroleum products because the products land there and the off-takers fix their prices there and load it for our members the way they like,” he stated.
Peter Asele in his contribution to the programme charged the DSS to properly investigate the role played by the major marketers within the petrol downstream to unravel the real cause of the supply disruption.
According to him, nothing is currently moving in the industry because there’s a cartel frustrating the supply chain.
He also confirmed that the downstream sector has silently deregulated unofficially, adding that there is evidence to support the Federal Government’s continued payment of petrol subsidy.
He challenged the government to be bold enough to declare to Nigerians that the subsidy has been removed.
He said, “Everything is done by who knows who and it means that we are going to have a bleak or chaotic Christmas.
Esele urged the government to intervene in the matter, calling on the National Assembly to lead the investigation to unravel the cartel.
He said, “The DSS seems to be privy to some certain intelligence that Nigerians do not know, which is making them put fire to the feet of the marketers.
“DSS must tell Nigerians its findings within 48 hours, and whoever is behind this should be prosecuted because there are enough products in this country for everybody to get petrol,” he added.
“In a functional market, people must realise that there are consequences for their actions,” he noted, stressing that policy inconsistency, indiscipline, nepotism and the absence of punishment for wrong actions remain Nigeria’s biggest problem.
Esele stated that there was racketeering within the system which has subjected Nigerians to hardship, insisting that there’s enough product in the country and that the scarcity is deliberate.
The Former TUC President however commended the DSS for its intervention, challenging the security agencies to step up its investigation by exposing the cartels.
He also noted that the ultimatum is timely adding that things could get better if the ultimatum given by the DSS is genuine.
Peter further challenged the DSS to make the details of its findings, within 48-hours ultimatum, known to the general public. He also called for the prosecution of the major culprits.