President Goodluck Jonathan has told petroleum marketers in the country not to hold Nigerians to ransom with its plan to shut down filling stations in a bid to cause fuel scarcity.
The petroleum marketers had earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government, saying it refuse to pay all outstanding claims on petroleum subsidy, they will shut down filling stations nationwide.
Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had on Wednesday pointed accusing finger on those indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee on subsidy payments of hoarding fuel to put pressure on the federal government to withdraw the charges against them.
But speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, President Jonathan appealed to the oil marketers to apply understanding, while the federal government finds lasting solution to the disagreements.
He assured that the federal government was before the drawing board, mapping out every strategy to ensure that the issue was resolved.
The president's spokesman said, "I can assure you that government is not folding it's arms it is trying to meet with the marketers and reach amicable solution to this crisis. But it is also important to appeal to the marketers not to punish Nigerians by hoarding the petroleum products, they have nothing to do with whatever is the course of this latest crisis. It can be resolved and government is trying to ensure that is done as soon as possible".
Abati, however, did not say specifically whether the federal government was already in talks with the markets.
As at yesterday, the oil marketers were apparently making real their threat, as most filling stations in Abuja and some other major cities in the country had stopped selling fuel, while black marketers selling in front of their stations were experiencing a boom, selling 10 liters of petrol at about N3000 to N3,500.
In a statement by her Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Okonjo Iweala had alleged that the planned strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee which investigated fuel subsidy payments.
"Their obvious intention is to blackmail the Federal Government in order to escape sanctions for the crimes they have committed", she stated.