Fuel price: NLC, NUJ, others fume as anger, frustration spread nationwide

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By Emmanuel Uzodinma

Nigerians were jolted on Tuesday following a further increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as petrol.

DAILY POST reports that anger and condemnations poured in from across the country, with the citizens describing the decision as insensitive.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had in his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, announced an end to the fuel subsidy regime.

Even though the subsidy regime covered the month of June, oil marketers swifty adjusted their metres to N500 and above per litre of petrol.

However, less than two months after that increment, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, Limited, NNPCL, has announced another increment, blaming it on market forces.

It is coming at a time the citizens are still battling the effects of the May 29 increment which saw the pump price of petrol jerk up from about N197 per litre to over N500.

Many Nigerians had in the aftermath of the May 29 increment parked their vehicles and resorted to commercial vehicles, which they considered economical. Some others sold their cars.

Prices of transportation, foodstuffs, other goods and essential services have also witnessed an astronomical increase.

Meanwhile, DAILY POST reports that there is no uniform price of the commodity across the country.

In the Nation’s capital, Abuja, it sells for N617 and above, especially NNPC filling stations.

However, that cannot be said of other cities.

In Ogun State for instance, while many filling stations are not dispensing, those who opened for business are selling for N650 per litre.

An angry taxi driver in the state, Usman Adeola,had this to say, “it is not good, Nigerians are just being made to suffer everyday. Our children are in school, we have not paid their tuition, rent has not been completed, even to feed ourselves is a huge challenge.

“I swear to God Almighty, I have never eaten anything today. I am a cab driver, and here on the queue. The car owner is waiting for daily returns.”

An Ondo state civil servant, Yemisi Oladapo, who also expressed his disappointment over the development, said, “We had hoped for a change, a departure from the policies that burdened us under the Buhari administration.

“But now we find ourselves in a similar predicament. This is unacceptable and a clear betrayal of the people’s trust,” he stated.”

Tunde Akinkunmi, a trader, said, “I thought I was in a trance when I got to the filling station, and I heard that petrol is now N617. This is criminal, I must tell you.

“We were not given prior notice of this wicked act. They just woke up and suddenly increased the price.”

In Kwara State, the price hovers between 559 and 617 per litre, while in Niger State, it goes for between N617 and N620.

In Ebonyi State, a litre goes for N620 in the metropolis while those in the rural areas are buying at between N650 to N700 per litre, while in the neighbouring Enugu, a few filling stations dispensed the product at the cost of N550 to N620; many others shut down as soon as the increment was announced.

A resident of Enugu, the Coal City State, Mr Samson Okoro said the government has pushed the citizens into avoidable suffering by putting the cart before the horse.

“What the government ought to have done first is to revive our refineries; this should have come before removal of subsidy.

“You cannot depend on total importation yet you are quick to remove subsidies, you see where it has landed us.

“I advise the government to review the entire process because it will get to a point where the masses will not take it again and they will revolt.

“The suffering is excruciating; something has to be done about it, very quickly too,” he cautioned.

In Damaturu, Yobe State capital, a litre goes for N600; Abia: N595 to N600; Imo: N650; Akwa Ibom: N600 to N620; Rivers: N617 to N640; Kaduna: N610 to N650; Oyo: N580 to N650; Cross River: N620 to N630, while in Lokoja, Kogi state capital, the commodity goes for N617.

The National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo was the first to confirm the new price increase to DAILY POST on Tuesday.

According to him, fuel prices will continue fluctuating depending on market forces.

“That is the regime we are in with removing fuel subsidies. The prices will continue to fluctuate based on market forces and the changes in Dollar in the foreign exchange market. That is why we are pushing for an alternative to fuel”, he stated.

Both the NNPCL and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, are unanimous in their stand on the increment.

They maintained that the government was no longer in a position to fix the market price of the commodity.

NNPCL’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Malam Mele Kyari, after a private meeting with the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, at the Presidential Villa, on Tuesday, in Abuja, explained that the increase in the price of PMS has nothing to do with supply issues.

He rather blamed it on market forces.

”I don’t have the details at this moment. You know we have the Marketing Wing of the company, they adjust prices depending on the market realities.

“And this is the meaning of making sure that the market regulates itself so that prices will go up and sometimes they will come down; this is really what we are seeing; in reality, this is how the market works.

“What I know is that the market forces will regulate the market, prices will go down sometimes and sometimes it will go up, but there will be stability of supply,” he said.

On his part, Alhaji Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, NMDPRA, said the authority doesn’t set price of the product but the market determines itself.

”As a regulator, you know I told you back in May we are not going to be setting prices, the market will determine itself and as you saw back in early June when prices came out it was based on the cost of importation plus other logistics of distribution and of course the profit margin by the importer.

”This market is deregulated, and is open to all participants. As mentioned also yesterday (Monday) when I was in Lagos, we have about 56 marketing companies that have applied for and obtained licences to import,” he said.

DAILY POST reports that the over N100 increment has attracted nationwide condemnation from the masses, especially with the issue of palliatives yet to be sorted out.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, swiftly rejected the increment, accusing the government of impoverishing the poor masses while the rich get richer.

It also rejected the now suspended N8, 000 palliatives for 12 million households in the country.

Joe Ajaero, the President of NLC, in a statement, described the proposal as robbing the poor to pay the rich.

Ajaero added that it is no longer interested in the federal government’s Committee to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal impact on Nigerians because it failed to set up a National Steering Committee.

“There is no other way to explain the proposal to pay a misery sum of N8,000 Naira to each of the mysterious poorest 12 million Households for six months which amounts to N48,000 and pays just 469 National Legislators N70b or about N149m each, while the Judiciary that has about 72 Appeal Court Judges, 33 National Industrial Court Judges, 75 Federal High Court Judges and 21 Supreme Court Judges and a total of about 201 Judges receives a total of N35b or N174m each.

“If these other two arms are projected to receive this, what members of the Executive Council will receive is better left to the imagination of Nigerians; perhaps, the balance of N150b will go to them.

“NLC would not want to continue to be part of the usual charade of Committees with never implemented outcomes. We would not want to waste the time of Nigerians, especially workers on Committees that have already been programmed to fail and thus ignored”, the statement partly reads.

Similarly, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, also came hard on the Federal Government, lamenting the level of suffering by the citizens.

NUJ, in a statement issued by its National Secretary, Shuainu Usman Leman, said it is alarmed by the just announced increase in the Pump Price of the Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS to N617 per litre in Abuja and N568 in Lagos, respectively.

“The development has already triggered an astronomical increase in transportation cost, with prices of food items soaring almost beyond the reach of many citizens even as users of generators to power their homes are already groaning uncontrollably under the present condition.

“While we applaud the decision to remove the costly subsidy on fuel, we, however, caution against a hasty implementation of the policy without putting mitigating measures in place to cushion the excruciating effect.

“We are saddened by the fact that today, most people can hardly commute to work or other places of business without too much stress.

“We believe that this decision is an overkill and urge that the situation should be reversed immediately while adequate measures are considered and put in place to lessen the effect on ordinary Nigerians.”

While appearing on Arise TV news programme, Tuesday night, Mr Mike Osatuyi, National Operations Controller of IPMAN, said Nigerians should expect future fluctuations to be determined by market forces.

“It can also come down,” he said when asked whether there are chances that the price would still go up.

He added that, “What we are using now is the old stock which is getting exhausted; new products are now being discharged, which will affect the new price.

“It may still go down depending on the market forces, the dollar, the forex.

“Like in diesel market, there was a time it was N800, there was a time it came to N500, N600 that is what we are going to be witnessing, but if crude goes today to N120, N110 dollars per barrel, it is to the benefit of Nigeria, because you are going to get more money, but at the same time, we cannot eat our cake and have it.

“That is why I said transparency is very important in this game so that Nigerians can see what they are using the money for, if we have fast trains, we have transport, the food is cheap…”

In an apparent response to the outrage across the country, President Tinubu on Tuesday ordered the immediate review of the proposed N8,000 to 12 million households in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement issued by Dele Alake, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy.

Tinubu also ordered that the whole range of the palliative package of the federal government be unveiled to Nigerians.

“That the N8,000 conditional cash transfer programme envisaged to bring succour to most vulnerable households be reviewed immediately. This is in deference to the views expressed by Nigerians against it.

“That the whole gamut of palliative packages of government be unveiled to Nigerians.

“Immediate release of fertilisers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households respectively in all the 36 states and the FCT.

“The President further assures Nigerians that the N500 billion approved by parliament to cushion the pain occasioned by the end of subsidy regime will be judiciously utilised. The beneficiaries of the reliefs shall be Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliation.

“President Bola Tinubu has promised to always prioritise the wellbeing of Nigerians and he is irrevocably committed to the vow. A number of decisions taken so far by this Administration have buttressed this stance,” the presidential spokesperson said.

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