Petrol dealers, Fayose on the warpath over Cs-of-O

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Kamarudeen Ogundele, Ado Ekiti

Petrol Dealers Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers in Ekiti State on Monday declared an indefinite strike to protest against the state government’s revocation of Certificates of Occupancy granted to their members.

The situation forced many vehicles off the road as several filling stations refused to open for business in the state.

Specifically, the unions accused Governor Ayodele Fayose of inciting the public against them on a radio and television programme while he had yet to pay the N80m the state owed them.

Fayose had on Saturday placed a ban on the construction of filling stations in residential areas, even by those that had got the approval for the construction of fuel stations.

The governor noted that the victims of fire accidents in the past were never compensated by the owners of filling stations that caught fire.

Consequently, he announced that all the previous approvals for existing stations in residential areas as well as those newly granted for those under construction, including their Cs of O had become revoked and of no use with immediate effect.

Fayose warned that any petrol station owner who chose to ignore the new order and went ahead to operate illegally shall be viewed as sabotaging government’s policies and constituting a threat to human lives.

At a joint press conference in Ado Ekiti, on Monday, PEDAN and NUPENG, who said the strike would continue until Fayose reversed all the actions, demanded an apology from the governor for the abuses he hurled at them.

They insisted that the government should not punish their members while also owing them N80m, being money for the supplies made on diesel and petrol to government by members.

At the briefing were PEDAN Chairman, Owoeye Ayodele; Alhaji Suleman Akinbami (secretary), and NUPENG Chairman, Jegede Olumide.

The unions called for the immediate reversal of all the new levies and taxes imposed on them by government.

Akinbami said, “I have been in petrol business for 30 years and the first time Ekiti had a fire incident was the case of January 8, 2017 at Strive Energy Petrol Station at Ijigbo in Ado Ekiti.

“As I speak with you, victims had been compensated contrary to what the governor said that each of them got as low as N10,000. About 18 of the victims have received compensations.

“So, we were not even ready to go on strike until when Mr. Governor appeared on radio and television on Sunday where he incited the public against us and called us thieves. Is it a crime for us to invest in Ekiti? What have we done wrong to warrant these abuses?”

But reacting, Fayose said his government would not back down on its policies.

He also denied owing the unions N80m.

“We are not owing them anything. My government didn’t owe them; it was Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s administration that owed them. Let me just ask why did they wait till they were owed such huge amount of money? I have nothing to pay them because I am not owing them,” Fayose added.

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