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IPMAN Threatens Nationwide Shutdown of 30,000 Filling Stations Over N200bn Debt

Oil dealers, represented by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), have issued a stark ultimatum to the Nigerian government, threatening to close down their network of 30,000 filling stations nationwide if the long-standing debt of N200 billion is not settled promptly.

In a recent communique, IPMAN’s Chairman of Depot Chairmen Forum, Yahaya Alhassan, emphasized the urgency of the situation, highlighting the non-payment of marketers’ bridging claims by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

Alhassan warned of dire consequences should the debt remain unresolved, painting a grim picture of every IPMAN outlet shutting down across Nigeria, plunging the nation into hardship and danger.

Despite assurances from government officials in the past, including a directive to clear the debt within 40 days, IPMAN alleges that only a fraction of the owed amount has been settled, leaving members in financial distress.

The association expressed deep frustration with NMDPRA’s handling of the matter, attributing it to the collapse of businesses and even deaths within its ranks. 

Many members, burdened by bank loans and unable to access owed funds, have faced bankruptcy and closure of their operations.

IPMAN has called upon President Bola Tinubu to intervene swiftly, demanding immediate action to resolve the crisis. 

Should their demands go unmet, they pledge to withdraw services, close outlets, and suspend product lifting until their grievances are addressed.

In response, NMDPRA insists that the payment process is ongoing, defending the staggered nature of disbursements. However, the reassurances have done little to quell IPMAN’s mounting frustration.

Amidst the turmoil, IPMAN has shifted blame for the current fuel scarcity away from its members, pointing fingers at the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).

 They allege that NNPC’s inadequate supply to dealers, coupled with inflated prices at private depots, has exacerbated the situation.

“This has consequently led to the deaths of many of our members and the unfortunate collapse of their businesses. It is also disheartening to note that some of our members have completely shut down their businesses and retrenched their employees as we are no longer able to pay salaries.

“As businessmen and women, our members acquired bank loans to keep their fuel retail outlets running on a daily basis across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, in order to serve the teeming population of Nigerians.

“However, it is demoralising to know that many of our members have gone bankrupt and have become financially insolvent as a result of their inability to meet their financial obligations to their banks, arising wholly from their inability to get their monies from the NMDPRA,” Alhassan stated.

Consequently, according to the IPMAN official, the banks have taken over the business premises of many of our members.

He said, “NMDPRA have illegally taken our monies and this is the highest level of fraud. Sequel to this, we are appealing to Mr President to please intervene in this quagmire that we have been subjected to by the NMDPRA.

“We repeat, if our demands are not met within the shortest period of time, we have already put our members on standby across the nation, as law-abiding citizens, we are collectively prepared to withdraw our services, close every single outlet, and suspend lifting of products forthwith till our demands are fully met.”

In contrast, NNPC has promised to resolve the scarcity and long queues by May 1, 2024, citing logistical challenges as the root cause. 

Despite claims of ample product availability exceeding 1.5 billion litres, the company acknowledges the need for swift action to alleviate the nation’s fuel woes.

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