Lagos — The bribery scam allegation rocking the downstream sector of the Nigeria's oil industry got another twist on Tuesday as the federal government said through the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) absolved minister of Petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke of complicity in the recently concluded award of contracts for the importation of petroleum products for the second quarter of 2011.
Some marketers were, according to an allegation by a National daily, yet to collect their approval letters because of their inability to pay the $8 per metric ton bribe, by the Executive Secretary of the agency, Goody Egbuji, who made this clarification at a press briefing, stated that "majority of the marketers have collected their Import Permits, without any payments whatsoever".
Egbuji, maintained that it is not possible for anyone to build in any amount of money into the prices of petroleum products as alleged in a story published by a National daily because of the very tight margins contained in the agency's price template.
"It should also be borne in mind that the operating price boundaries for products are well established by both international and industry standards as shown in the PPPRA template, thereby leaving no room for any manipulations or extraneous factors.
In other words, there is no way such tightly determined margins can accommodate additional burden as being alleged in the publication," the Executive Secretary explained.
Considering the tight margins, Egbuji stated that the PPPRA cannot be said to have been 'used' by the Honourable Minister of Petroleum to 'fleece' oil Marketers.
He said the publication was the handiwork of disgruntled elements that were not comfortable with the agency's regulatory role in preventing restrictive trade practices that could be harmful to the downstream sub-sector.
"It is a fact that the insistence of the Agency that participation in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) Scheme should be based on established standards have not gone down well with many people, who would have wished they had their way in their applications," Egbuji stated.
He added that it was the agency's insistence on standards that has led to the stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products currently being enjoyed across the country.
The PPPRA scribe gave a breakdown of the approved list of marketers and the percentage of products as follows: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 28.6 per cent, Depot Owners 51.9 per cent and throughput Agreement 12.5 per cent.
Others, according to him, are New Suppliers with Depot 1.4 per cent and New Suppliers with throughput 5.6 per cent.