The Kanop State Branch of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN) has cautioned the National Assembly against interfering with the mandate of Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) as contained in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
Alhaji Bashir Dan-Malam, the Kano State Chairman of IPMAN, gave the advice while speaking with newsmen in Kano on Friday.
“Expunging PEF from the PIGB will not only jeopardise IPMAN, but also take them out of business and increase the rate of unemployment, youth restlessness and banditry that bedeviled the country at the moment.
“Expunging PEF from the PIGB will not only widen unemployment, but will cause serious income disparity between the North and South as a result of haulage of petroleum products from surplus areas to where there is scarcity.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had in August 2018 declined to give assent to the controversial bill, which has been in the making for more than 10 years on the grounds that it whittled down the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, which he presently occupies.
Dan-mallam, however, commended President Buhari for declining to give assent to the controversial bill, saying that Buhari was right to decline assent to the bill because of its shortcomings.
He said one of the shortcomings was that the bill had scrapped Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF).
He explained that the PEF is a money generated by petroleum marketers nationwide which currently stands at hundreds of billions of Naira.
According to him, there was sinister motive behind scrapping the PEF in the PIGB by those indebted and withholding the monies of the Fund.
“Buhari was right to decline assent to PIGB. There are a lot of errors in it. Significantly, the bill had scrapped PEF. This PEF is the money generated by independent marketers and it is even used in regulating petroleum price nationwide.
“We have discovered that there are some elements who are owing the board hundreds of billion of naira of PEF funds that is why they recommended the scrapping of the PEF in the PIGB.
“Those clamouring or campaigning behind the scenes for the scrapping of PEF are doing so because they are hugely indebted to PEF by their failure to pay bridging and other allowances due to the board for the payment of marketers.
“Arguably, IPMAN can be said to be the next employer of labour after the Federal Government and our funds in PEF is our only benefit in the supply and distribution of petroleum products and deep penetration of the products to every corner of the country,” Dan-mallam said.
Dan-mallam, however commended Alasan Doguwa, Chairman House Committee on PIGB, for listening to their complaints and pledged to review the decision.
He called on Nigerians not to accept the removal of PEF in the PIGB, urging the National Assembly, especially the Senate, to as a matter of urgency re-include the Fund into the corrected bill to be forwarded to the President.
“Scrapping PEF without fixing the refineries, pipelines and stopping importation will create hardship for Nigerians.
“From available records PEF has been managing the equalization fund for over 40 years without report of fraud or diversion of markers funds.
“PEF does not draw it funds from the Federal Government in order to pay marketers allowances,” he said.