As Nigerians grapple with the increase in the pump prices petrol across the country, motorists and consumers have condemned the sudden move, saying it has worsened the economic hardship.
This is as many filling stations remained shut yesterday, causing motorists, cyclists and other petrol users to queue at the NNPCL filling stations to get petrol. As a result, the price of transportation has once again been jerked up, leaving some people stranded and unable to access their places of work.
Some residents were seen pleading with private car owners, who carry passengers for a fee to ease the huge cost of fuelling their cars, to reduce the amount they demand as fare. Some commercial bus drivers in Lagos State yesterday lamented the low number of passengers on the roads as a result of the increment in the pump price of petrol.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited in the early hours of Tuesday raised the pump price of petrol to N568 and N650 per litre across the country depending on location. Prior to this time, the product sold for between N484 and N488 in Lagos and N537 in Abuja.
President Bola Tinubu had, during his swearing-in in May, announced the removal of subsidy on petrol, leading to full deregulation of petroleum product’s price in the country. Giving reason for the current increase on Tuesday, group chief executive officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, had attributed it to market forces, adding that there was no shortage in product supply.
But speaking with our correspondents, some of the drivers said that the hike in the pump price has led to a drop in the number of passengers on the roads. A driver, Pascal Ozodibe, said though he was still charging the old fare, there were no passengers to carry.
“We are now living in a time of hopelessness. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Few weeks ago, we were buying fuel for less than N200 per litre. Within a space of two months (or less), we are now buying fuel for N568 per litre. Yet, the salary has not increased.
“The fuel subsidy the government was paying for, Nigerians are now paying for it, with their hard earned money. I thought the government wanted to curb corruption in the oil industry! The industry is now robbing Nigerians and there is nothing the government is doing about that. How can they sell petrol as high as N600 per litre? Is that not wickedness?” a taxi driver in Ojota-Ogudu, axis, Yusuf Abubakar, lamented.
He, however, called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene by fixing refineries in Nigeria. “Give us hope, President Tinubu, by fixing our refineries. Give us a specific date that you will fix our refineries. That will give us hope. Otherwise, we will just continue to live in hopelessness,” he appealed. “Though we do not experience traffic jam in Lagos, I am appealing to President Tinubu to intervene,” a motorist who spoke with LEADERSHIP anonymously, said.
Speaking on the N8,000 palliative, he stated that, “This is not what Nigerians want. Nigerians want refineries to work, so that the fuel price can reduce, otherwise, the oil industry players would continue to increase the price. Nigerians also want the economy to be buoyant. For instance, if the naira s strengthened, we won’t lament. So I appeal to the federal government to come up with policies that can boost the economy.”
A staff of a service provider at Ikeja, Lagos, Yemisi Racheal said the hike in fuel prices “is telling me something. “As a person, I calculate how I spend money, both on feeding and transporting myself to work. I have not recovered from the previous one since this administration and now the current one. I now spend N1,000 daily from Oshodi to Ikeja and back to Oshodi, whereas N500 would have taken care of the transport fare before. This is becoming unbearable.”
Reps To Probe Fuel Price Hike, Summon NNPCL, IPMAN Over Imbroglio
The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the increase in the pump price of petrol by Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) from N500 to N617. The House also invited the NNPCL group chief executive officer, Mele Kyari, and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to brief the lawmakers on the hike.
These resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance, moved by Hon. Ikenga Ugochinyere (PDP, Imo) at plenary yesterday. The lawmaker expressed worry that due to the current socio-economic challenges being faced by Nigerians, a hike in the price of fuel will heap great suffering and hardship on Nigerians.
He prayed the House to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the increment of the petrol pump price by NNPCL and the marketers and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.
Ruling on the motion, the deputy speaker, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said the Ad-hoc Committee would be set at the end of the sitting and its membership would cut across the country as the issue affected all Nigerians. Kalu charged the soon to be constituted Committee to work with the speed of light so that Nigerians will feel the impact of the lawmakers’ intervention.
Marketers Give FG Conditions For Petrol Import
Major oil marketers are likely not to embark on petrol importation as current conditions appear yet unfavourable to take such a risk. They have presented a list of conditions that will encourage them to invest in the business of product importation. Their reaction follows an announcement by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) that licences had been issued to 56 oil marketing companies for petrol importation.
Chief executive officer of NMDPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed, said in Lagos during a stakeholders’ engagement session with petroleum marketers that 10 of the 56 firms had shown commitment to supply products from July to September 2023.
At the meeting attended by marketers belonging to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Ahmed said the purpose was to encourage the marketers to come into the market.
But in a statement in Lagos yesterday, the MOMAN said that the major challenges still lie in accessing foreign exchange for imports and ensuring a level playing field regarding pump prices. According to them, if marketers are to undertake the financial risk of importing petrol, measures must be in place, in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), to ensure that no one player has an unfair advantage. “Furthermore, it is important to note that a crucial aspect of the programme’s success lies in three effective and sustainable implementations of the gains from subsidy removal.
These gains, they said, should be invested in the promised palliatives, including subsidied transportation, as well as social investment programmes in healthcare, education, and infrastructure development (such as roads, railways, and power). MOMAN further urged that these initiatives be rolled out in a visible, transparent, and timely manner. .
The marketers also challenged the government to exert energy towards increasing national production of crude oil from the current 1.2 million barrels per day to closer to 2 million barrels per day, to bring the much-needed foreign exchange. The marketers stated that Nigeria is blessed with one of the largest gas reserves in Africa and an abundance of solar resources.
They, however, challenged the government to encourage end-users to analyze and adjust their individual energy consumption mix. Additionally, MOMAN urged government and businesses to promote the use of LPG and CNG for intercity buses, tricycles (kekes), minibuses, and taxis to power their vehicles.