IPMAN crisis worsens fuel distribution

As the current leadership squabbles in IPMAN, spiraled into increasing scarcity of petroleum products nationwide, AUGUSTINE OKEZIE takes a critical look at the contending issues and suggests strategies in the  resolution of the rift.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the fragile fuel supply situation in the country may soon degenerate and give way to the mother of all queues if the leadership crisis currently rocking the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) is not urgently resolved.

At the moment two individuals namely:Obasi Lawson andAminu Abdulkadir are currently laying claims to the leadership of the group.
While Mr. Obasi Lawson, who was hitherto the East zonal chairman and former deputy president of the union, claims to be president following a court judgment he obtained from the Federal High Court Port Harcourt, the current president, Aminu Abdulkadir, who has been ousted by the court ruling, maintains that his tenure in office has not expired.

At separate press briefings in Abuja, Obasi alleged that Abdulkadir had reneged on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached by the association stipulating election timetable but Abdulkadir denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the election was slated for May this year. Obasi accused Abdulkadir of other wrongdoings including changing and re-registering the IPMAN constitution with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) without the consent of members, a situation that prompted him to approach the court which ruled in his favor and nullified the amendments made to the IPMAN constitution.

But Abdulkadir has refuted the claims, saying, “Our elections were slated for May this year according to the election timetable. Everybody knows that Obasi was expelled from IPMAN due to his anti-association activities.”

Obasi told journalists that he will present the court ruling to relevant government agencies, including the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), for them to recognize him as the IPMAN president and discontinue interactions with Abdulkadir.
Already the situation is causing some panic in the industry as some members who spoke on condition of anonymity, are maintaining that the crises which has just erupted , is capable of disrupting the product supply chain as some marketers may begin to hoard products and create artificial scarcity.
As the above development continued to generate concern from stakeholders,especially those in the country’s downstream petroleum sector, there are doubts that the supply of products across Nigeria, especially within the hinterlands of the country which is dominated by members of IPMAN may be affected by the lingering leadership tussle.

The concerns were majorly hinged on the business integrity of the association following the Port Harcourt Federal High Court judgment that installed Lawson as the new president of IPMAN, Abdulkadir’s somewhat refusal to obey the judgment as well as Lawson’s imminent notification of relevant agencies in the sector of the court judgment with request for his official recognition.

While Lawson had in a separate press briefing assured that smooth distribution of petroleum products across the country would not be hindered by the leadership tussle, Abdulkadir stated that such actions would disrupt nationwide distribution of fuel; already, the country is currently experiencing some hitches in its fuel supply and distribution framework.

Major stakeholders are already calling for a truce meeting involving the warring parties to ensure an early resolution of the standoff. The general  believe is that it is only at a round table could the two extreme positions on the matter be brought together

President Goodluck Jonathan’s latest intervention in the leadership tussle rocking the association should be seen as timely and highly needed.
According to news report, the President has ordered the Products Pipelines and Marketing Company (PPMC) to convene a meeting with all the warring parties in a bid to find a way out of the crisis.

To think that the current situation at IPMAN, is not capable of affecting fuel supply and distribution, is indeed a miscalculation of some sort, because the queues are already resurfacing and transport fares are already going up, because IPMAN is a key player in the  supply chain. The earlier they are called to order, the better.

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