IPMAN Feud Stalls $3b Refineries Project

Investors are shying away from the proposed $3billion refineries project of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) over leadership crises in the union, IPMAN’s Chairman, South-West, Alhaji Debo Ahmed, has said.

He also said IPMAN is awaiting the judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue in December, this year, adding that the judgment will determine the next line of action for the organisation.

According to him, IPMAN will try and woo investors back into the project, once the Supreme Court judgment favours the union, by proffering a lasting solution to its leadership crises.

In an interview with journalists in Lagos last week, Ahmed said IPMAN would have long completed the construction of the refineries, which it planned to build in 2014 in order to reduce dependence on imported fuel and further improve consumption of the product in the country.

He said wrangling among the top- echelon of the union made investors to change their mind, after they had already shown some interest in the project by signing an MoU .

According to him, investors mainly from Asia and Europe are withdrawing their participation in the project, following the inability of IPMAN to reconcile its members, who are aggrieved over the choice of people that head the union.

Ahmed said: ‘’ Investors from China, Spain and other countries are withdrawing from the project, due to leadership problem in IPMAN. This follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by IPMAN and the investors in 2017. Based on this, the investors are not going to provide funding for the refineries. This, coupled with the fact that indigenous banks are not going to disburse funds for the project, on the ground that that the economic climate is not good enough for investment, ditto the leadership tussles in the union. IPMAN has 1,000 hectares of land in Itobi in Kogi state and Abee in Bayelsa state for the project and the body is anxious to end its crises as soon as possible in order to ensure that investors do the needful for the union.

He added that: ‘’IPMAN has some peculiar problems, which its contending with. The problems are varied and many, as they affect different segments of operation in the association. The problems are mistrust, lack of enough capital, poor infrastructure among others are having untold effects on the activities of IPMAN, which controls more than 70 per cent of the activities in the downstream sub-sector of the nation’s oil and gas industry. This is evident by the huge distribution channels, which the association enjoys across the country.’’

Besides, the crises, Ahmed said, has pitched the association’s National Chairman, Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo with its predecessor, Mr Obasi Lawson, as well as forcing investors to shy away from investing in the refineries, that are billed to refine 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bocd), with a view to enable Nigeria depend less on imported petroleum products and to also improve domestic consumption of fuel.

Also, IPMAN‘s Controller of Operation, Mr Mike Osatuyi, said the body has tried to resolve its leadership problems to no avail, stressing that the issue is having undesirable consequence on the operation of the union.

He said the body would have completed the construction of the refineries in the second quarter of 2018, but unable to achieve that goal, due to problems facing it.

He said the issue of building refineries is one of the key projects that is being executed by the authority of IPMAN, adding that the organization is not relenting on its efforts to contribute to the growth of the sector.

It would be recalled that the crises in IPMAN broke out years ago, following inability of the body to curb the crises that greeted the election of Mr Obasi Lawson as the National Chairman of IPMAN. The issue culminated in filling of suits in the court. Despite the fact that the election of  Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo as the substantive leader of the organization, the crises persist as warring factions refuse to sheath their sword.