The queues for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, grew worse on Tuesday following an earlier directive to shut down filling stations by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
Although the directive was later withdrawn, it was observed that the order triggered fuel queues in many parts of Abuja and neighbouring states, as hundreds of motorists besieged the few outlets that dispensed petrol, which were operated by major marketers.
It was observed that heavy queues resurfaced at the two Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited filling stations on the Gwarimpa end of the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway on Tuesday evening in Abuja.
Similarly, there was massive queues by motorists at the Shema filling station on the same road, while the outlets of many independent marketers in Abuja and neighbouring Nasarawa and Niger states were shut.
Oil marketers confirmed that the queues were due to the confusion caused by the earlier directive to filling station operators by a branch of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
There was confusion on Tuesday as regards the directive by the Maiduguri Depot branch of IPMAN directing its members to shut down operations.
IPMAN Chairman, Maiduguri Depot, Mohammed Kuluwu, had directed members to suspend all operations, in a statement he personally signed, but this was countered by the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, after marketers in other states started closing down their outlets.
Ukadike said Kuluwu had been asked by the National Chairman, Debo Ahmed, to retract the statement, because IPMAN was interfacing with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority over the concerns raised in the statement.
In the statement Kuluwu had directed marketers to also suspend the payment of ordering products from source until further notice, stressing that the decision was because IPMAN members were sourcing and selling products at a loss, as well as the action of the NMDPRA to impose a non-profitable cost price on marketers.
It was exclusively reported that IPMAN could shut down operations by Monday once the government enforced the N195/litre pump price for petrol on marketers.
The report stated that Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, security agencies and the downstream regulator, had all agreed that petrol be sold at N195/litre.
Oil marketers said the agreement was reached at a meeting in Abuja last week Tuesday, as participants resolved that beginning from Monday, February 6, 2023, the pump price of petrol should not exceed N195/litre, a development which dealers, particularly independent marketers, described as tough due to the high ex-depot price of the commodity.
They had told our correspondent that to avoid having their outlets sanctioned, many filling stations operated by independent marketers could be shut from Monday as it made no business sense to sell a product lower than the cost price.
But Ukadike stated on Tuesday that the move to shut down fillings would not hold due to discussions between IPMAN, NNPC, NMDPRA and other stakeholders.
“We are aware of the notice by the Maiduguri Depot branch and the concerns by other members as regards pricing, but our National President, Debo Ahmed, has called the branches to order and asked them to step down the decision.
“This is because IPMAN is interfacing with NNPC and NMDPRA on these issues and we hope that there’ll be good resolutions among all parties,” he stated.
This came as the Federal Government warned of dire consequences for any individual or group of individuals who attempt to exploit or further cause untold hardship to Nigerians by disrupting the fuel supply and distribution chain across the country.