Fuel scarcity may be easing across the country but it may return soon as money deposit banks have been selling foreign exchange above the official rate of N197 to a dollar to oil marketers.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Femi Olawore, said banks are selling to his members at above N300 to a dollar, adding they had already made official complaint to the Central Bank of Nigeria through the Minister of Petroleum, who is already discussing the matter with the banks.
According to him, only two International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the upstream and downstream of the oil and gas sector are ready to assist with needed foreign exchange for the offshore purchase of the commodity.
“The Ministry of Petroleum is talking to the IOCs for assistance on forex. For now, only two of them are assisting with forex. They are the ones operating upstream and downstream. The Minister is talking, and we hope the assistance would be constant and massive enough for us to bring the fuel,” he said.
Olawore stressed that forex is essential in ending the lingering fuel crisis in the country but banks are not helping.
“Forex must be made available for fuel to be available. All major marketers have concluded arrangement to bring in products, but we need forex to back up the arrangement. We have the naira, but we don’t have forex. Banks are giving us forex at above N300 to a dollar. We appeal that the Minister will continue his engagement with the IOCs. And we will be glad if the President comes into the matter, because we are not getting forex from banks at the official rate. We are discussing with the Central Bank and we hope they will oblige us because it has since stopped allocation of forex to marketers. They should give us more priority,” Olawore said.
He prescribed a permanent solution to the persistent fuel crisis, saying it is the deregulation of the oil and gas sector, backed with strong regulatory framework. “Deregulation is a song we have been singing and we will continue to sing. That is the only way to go. We only need to put in place a strong regulatory framework, so that people don’t misbehave.”
The MOMAN Executive Secretary also condemned the previous arrangement, which made the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) the major importer of petroleum products, saying, “NNPC alone cannot do it. There has to be partnership and there should be no junior partner in the arrangement.”
According to him, NNPC has no infrastructure to play the role of major importer of petroleum products. “Their pipelines are bad. They don’t have storage facilities, so they need us,” he said.