Fuel retailers under Ardova PLC have protested against an alleged unfair and unjust treatment by the management of the indigenous energy group.
They, therefore, called for the immediate release of their petroleum products.
The aggrieved marketers who embarked on a peaceful protest on Saturday said Ardova Energy Group delayed the delivery of their premium motor spirit, also known as petrol for four weeks after payment based on the old depot rate of N172 per litre. According to them, the company later asked them to pay the differential to meet up the cost of N470 per litre before they would be allowed to lift the product.
Narrating their ordeal, one of the marketers said, “I paid for four trucks at the rate of N172 per litre on May 2, 2023. I constantly reached out to the Ardova team for my product but they kept lying to me that they were low on stock but their own filling stations were constantly getting products and selling.
“On May 22, they programmed my product and gave me a ticket to load at Menj. My truck was in the queue for a long time, only for us to discover that they were not loading there. My station has been shut down for over a month; I am doing business with a bank loan.
“Now Ardova wants us to bring three times the amount we had paid to them since, which is very unfair; backdating the transaction. Ardova needs to stop treating us unjustly as they are already becoming too comfortable with their consistent cheating and high-handedness.”
Also speaking on the issue, the leader of the coalition of retailers under Ardova PLC, Elder Niniola Peters, explained that the protest was expected as the company had proved to lack empathy and integrity in its dealings with retailers.
Peters called on Ardova PLC to change its ways and treat retailers fairly. He urged the company to check its records for those that paid for products before the removal of the petrol subsidy and give them their product, adding that thereafter they can open a fresh account for those who are buying at the current price.
He said, “Ardova must not send us to our early graves. All the product aggregate is not up to 500 trucks, so let them clear it and open a fresh book for people buying now. This subsidy has been paid for up to the end of June. During the period that Ardova held on to our monies, they were supplying their own stations with fuel. This injustice must stop.”
When SaharaReporters contacted Ardova PLC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Olumide Adeosun, he said the delay in the release of products for retailers is a common practice in the industry which, according to him, stems from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), which is the sole supplier of oil products in the country.
He said that the complaints made by the retailers under Ardova should not be taken seriously because they understand the practice in the industry.
According to him, the release of products sometimes experiences delays of between four to six weeks due to insufficient supply.
He said anytime the product is available, NNPCL supplies its stations first before supplying marketers.
Adeosun, however, said that the company had offered discounts to the retailers who are next in the queue and that the company was ready to refund any retailer interested in getting their money back.
He said, “As the NNPC is a sole supplier of the product, it is very common for us marketers to pay NNPC a lot of money and they delay the product.
“I run a chain of 800 stations or thereabouts. There are stations that the company owns specifically like family; that is, our family stations. We have other stations we own but we gave them to dealers to run. There is another type whereby dealers own the stations, run the stations but they buy the product from us.
“NNPC has been very slow and there have been a lot of complaints that there is not enough product. When there is not enough product more often than not, it is a common practice. We are talking about four to six weeks delay sometimes. You pay for 20 million litres and they give you five million litres. Two weeks later, they give you another five.
“It is a common practice in the industry for these dealers to pay in the hope that they will get something and as a retailer, it is in my best interest to provide the product to all my dealers because that is how I make money.
“Nobody knew that the price would go up. It could have gone down. We were caught by surprise. So, the complaints are not worth it. What is paining people now is that it looks as if we have made money but nobody has made that kind of money that they expect.
“They think they have missed out on an opportunity to make money but if the price had gone down, none of these people would have called to complain. They would have been asking for their money back. And my people have offered the people that did not get the product their money back.
“There is no product and when NNPC gets the product, they supply to their stations first, and NNPC has a thousand stations. It is not our fault.
“We have offered dealers in the queue who were next in the queue a discount as goodwill.
“Of course, they can get take their money back. The money is easier to find than the product. I have told my people – anybody that wants to take their money, give them. Take your money."