By Eric Elezuo
In a space of four months, the Nigerian petroleum industry, has remained inconstant, with the price of petrol undergoing three basic increments. Like a bolt out of the blue, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), announced the increment of the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, from N147.67 to N155.17. This automatically conferred the rights upon marketers to sell to end users at between N167 and N170 per litre.
The new adjustment, which takes immediate effect from Friday, November 13,2020 was contained in a memo dated November 11, and signed by Ali Tijani of the PPMC.
The memo showed that the landing cost average for PMS has increased from N119 in September and October to N123 in November.
Similarly, the ex-coastal selling price for the month has also increased to N130 in November, from N125 in the previous months. While the body of Independent marketers have directed their members to sell at N162, they failed to realise that the least a station sold before now, was N161
It would be recalled that in September, the pump price of petrol was adjusted to N161 per litre after the Federal Government increased the depot price from N138.62 per litre to N147.67. Much as the Nigerian public lamented, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, maintained that the price was good, drawing comparisons with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
In his Independence Day speech on October 1, Buhari was quoted as saying:
“We sell petrol at N161 per litre when same is sold at N168 per litre in Saudi Arabia; N211 per litre in Egypt; N362 per litre in Ghana; N362 per litre in Chad, and N346 per litre in Niger Republic. It does not make sense for petrol to be cheaper in Nigeria than Saudi Arabia.’’
Toeing his line, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, justified Buhari’s comparison, arguing that there was nothing wrong in making such a comparison.
“Some people have said why should we compare ourselves to Saudi Arabia with better infrastructure and higher wages. Our answer to that is very simple. Saudi Arabia has 34 million people while Nigeria has 200 million people. Saudi Arabia produces 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, while Nigeria produces at its best, 2.1 million barrel per day. Their population is about one-sixth of Nigeria’s population and they are blessed with more resources. Therefore, they can afford to pay higher wages and build infrastructure. Our argument must be put in proper perspective. As we have said, whatever money we make from the subsidy removal, we will invest in infrastructure development,’’ he said.
Subsequently, Nigerians had lived with the hike, coping with the post COVID-19 pandemic, which recovery from has remained abysmally slow, coupled with all other increments the populace has been burdened with by the Buhari government. Some of these hikes include electricity tariff, VAT of various kinds and others. It is also worthy of note that foodstuff, especially onions has become scarce.
As a result, a cross section of Nigerians, who spoke with The Boss expressed sadness at the turn of events, arguing that the government of the day has been busy taking the populace from one level of suffering to another.
Reacting to the new price regime, the Convener the Gravitas Group for Good Governance, Akogun Tola Adeniyi, said the Federal Government’s decision was the height of insensitivity, adding the those at the helm of affairs are without a conscience. He however, wish there is a purpose for the ‘provocative acts’
“The increment is the height of insensitivity. We live in a country without a government, and led by politicians and collaborators without a conscience. Those in charge of this country just don’t care. It is impunity of the highest order. I want to believe that the provocative acts unleashed on the people are for a purpose. They are driving Nigerians to the edge, and into severest anarchy, unfortunately,” he said.
In his own remarks, a staff of a federal government agency, who prefers anonymity, lambasted the government for failing to learn any lessons from the recent #EndSARS protests, adding that the politicians and elites do not have the interest of the people at heart.
“In the first place, the federal government has learnt nothing from the #EndSARS protest and the destruction that followed by deprived and hungry citizens. Secondly, the elites and politicians don’t have the interest of the people at heart. They are only after their pockets to the detriment of the majority of us thereby setting the stage for a revolution. As we’re all aware, those who the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. This government has gone overboard in this unprecedented maladministration,” the respondent said.
In the same vein, a Clergy, Reverend Enitan Shogbade, wondered at the efficacy of the subsidy removal, which the government has drummed into the ears of every Nigeria. He sees the new price regime draconian and wicked, asking who actually is fixing the prices since independent marketers are supposed to independently choose their own prices.
“I don’t understand this continuous increase in the pump price of petrol after we have been told that subsidies has been removed and price is to be determined by forces of demand and supply. The increase coming at this time is not only wicked, but also inciting as the masses are yet to recover from the twin evils of coronavarius lockdown and the recent protest against police brutality. This increase is another government brutalisation of the pauperised masses,” the Clergy voiced.
In the views of a social analyst, Ugochukwu Chukwunyere, the timing of the increment is unrealistic as the nation is grappling with ‘widespread unrest’ among other vices. He advised the government to take another look at the price regime before the nation relapses into anarchy.
“At a time when the nation is grappling with widespread social unrest, incessant strikes, banditry and economic downturns, the decision by the government to hike the price of fuel is most insensitive and callous to say the least.
“The citizens have been made to face a traumatic experience from the pandemic and curfew imposed as a result of the protests, so with the recent increase in petrol price, the public outcry may just fuel another unrest. It’s left for the leaders to take a wholistic appraisal to what direction the country is going before everything snowballs into utter confusion and total anarchy,” Chukwunyere said.
Below are some of the responses from Nigerians:
THE INCREMENT IS CRUEL AND HIGHLY INSENSITIVE – Tolulope A. Adegoke
The current development in the country by Federal Government can be best described as cruel and highly insensitive as it has already been met with ceaseless criticism and outrage among Nigerians; many of which lamented the bad economic conditions made worse by the sudden hike in fuel price.
The federal government increased the pump price shortly after power distribution companies announced a hike in electricity tariffs; forgetting that many Nigerians are currently struggling with the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted economic and social activities across the country. Put in mind that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is currently on a nationwide strike action and many other frustrating events that clusters within the country.
Insecurity, hike in fuel price, hike in electricity tariffs, corruption, ASUU strike among others would surely pave way to unavoidable outrage and unlawful acts on the sides of the Nigerian masses due to frustration. This means that, only the rich would be able to afford at least One fine square meal per day, while the underprivileged masses would languish in hunger, anger and penury!
These current issues in the country, would inevitably give rise to high rate of crime, as people would want to survive at all cost. Youths and young adults who are meant to be in school are unavoidably at home or on the street hustling for survival due to ASUU strike and would likely launch out again to vent their grievances to the Nigerian government, as the economy of the country at the moment is like shackles on the legs of the poor Nigerian masses; thereby restricting them from accessing prospects easily, and at the same time depriving them a healthy lifestyle.
In the same vein, many ‘aggrieved’ Nigerians are currently fed up with the ‘strange’ policies and situations of things in the country, as many with means would have no choice than to leave the country for greener pastures, else where which would in turn, lead to underdevelopment in the country as youths and skilled individuals who could have helped to build the country as the ‘hope of a brighter future’ are being frustrated out of the country due to harsh economic policies.
We all must remember that no flower thrives where there are no sunlights and adequate supplies of water. Also, no flower thrives when it is choked by its own thorns which were (originally) created or put in place to protect it.
We understand that the Federal Government is trying its best to develop and sustain the Nigeria’s economy, but we plead to the FG to kindly consider the poor masses who are still yet to recover from disruptions of the COVID-19 and #EndSARS protests under this current development so as not to build a ‘monster’ that would threaten and destroy its own territories in the nearest future.
BUHARI HAS SENTENCED NIGERIANS TO HUNGER, INSECURITY – Sani Said Baba
The Federal Government has just succeeded in setting the pace for unwholesome and devastating inflation because as oil prices move up, inflation which is the measure of general price trends throughout the economy, follows in the same direction. Sometimes I wonder from what source this government gets their advice. Otherwise, the president’s advisers should know that as the price of oil falls, inflationary pressure start to ease and consequently subsides. But the entire administrative machinery has overlooked this fact, and is pushing the Nigerian people into unending hardship.
It’s sad that a country that is ravaged by unemployment and hardship induced acts of criminality such as kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and so on should place yet another burden on the head of its citizens. With this fuel hike, the Federal Government has spoken in clear terms that Nigerians are not supposed to eat, go to school, stay secured, assess good health or live a good life. Buhari may have, by this hike weaponised the people for what may come. Nigeria needs help!
NIGERIAN ARE IN FOR A HARD TIME – Fola Oyenuga
I am expecting the law of diminishing returns to set into the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry given the almost monthly increase in the fuel price, but it seems it will not.
The talk of competition among major marketers thereby forcing down the price now is simply deceiving ourselves most likely because of the harsh business environment not helped by government agents and marketers bent on circumventing the system.
The deregulation of the oil sector is a conversation this country needs to hold, and those private investors, who had been granted licence, to building refineries need to live up to expectation or return those licences.
Meanwhile, Nigerians unfortunately have to brave for harder times.
THE TIMING OF THIS INCREMENT IS ILL-ADVISED – Raymond Nkannebe, Legal Practitioner
I think the projected price regime of PMS at ₦172, is one of the harsh realities of the removal of subsidy, by the Federal Government, on petroleum. However, the question is still begged whether the so called removal of subsidy is only in principle. I say this because, it is either government is still involved in some form of subsidy, or price fixing, as we still see the hands of the government, through its key regulatory agencies, determining the price at which PMS is sold. My understanding of subsidy removal, is that the price of the commodity, is fixed by market forces, and not by executive fiat as we’re witnessing with this latest price adjustment
These are some of the issues that many Nigerians are yet to disentangle.
Having said that, I think the timing of this increment is ill-advised. The economy is still under recession; the dust of the #EndSARS protests is yet to fully settle with civic agitations all over the place on issues such as freezing of bank accounts of some #EndSARS protesters; the rumoured regulation of social media; a bread levy in Kogi State, the endless ASUU strike and mass grumbling over electricity tariffs. What you get from all of these is a Nation on tinderbox, ready to implode at the slightest provocation.
We’re at a very precarious state in our journey through nationhood, and the entire country seems to be paying the price of years of leadership brigandage that has expressed itself in the oddity of the world’s 7th largest producer of oil, being unable to refine the resource for local consumption over the course of six decades. I don’t know how much Nigerians are willing to continue to pay the price. The times we live call for empathetic exercise of executive discretion, and all things point to the fact, that this Government is not getting it right. I hope this latest increment does not finally trigger the revolution that the #EndSARS protest, almost became.
GOVERNMENT IS INSENSITIVE TO THE PLIGHT OF THE CITIZENS – Itodo David, Clergy
Honestly, the government of the day is insensitive to the plight of the citizens. We just came out of the COVID-19 lockdown’ people’s job were closed for months, nothing worked, and no financial assistance to the masses as was promised.
As a matter of fact VAT was increased, electricity tariff was increased yet only #30,000 minimum wage is still a problem. Increasing this fuel again under how many days of the last increase is a bad omen. Everything will increase again as usual. Go to the market you will see the impacts of this fuel price hike. By December it would have reached #200 or #250 per liter. How long will this continue?
GOVERNMENT IS ADDING TO THE SUFFERING OF THE PEOPLE – Samuel Iyanda, Teacher
This is not a good time to increase the petrol pump price knowing full well that any slight increase in petrol will lead to a corresponding increase in goods and services, including transportation.
I expect government to look towards alleviating the sufferings of the masses, and not add to them.
Therefore this is not a welcomed development as the citizens are already suffering a lot. Let the government have a second thought on the hike of this essential commodity.
THIS IS PURE EVIL AND THE MASSES WON’T TAKE IT – Victor Udoh, Journalist
It is unfortunate that some of us find ourselves in this lawless country which generates one issue after another everyday. It is sad to wake up to yet another increment on the price of fuel in as many days. The idea is absurd for an oil producing country as Nigeria. I still find it very difficult to believe that with all the challenges on ground the government will still increase the price of fuel; it a pity.
The government failed to understand that whenever the price of fuel goes up, every other thing follows automatically including food, transportation and essential services. We put the government there to serve us, and not the other way round.
No sane government would think of making the lives of its citizens this miserable at this time everything seems to be at a standstill. This is pure evil and the masses won’t take it.
Barely a month ago, there was an increment, so I don’t understand why it is necessary for another one so soon. Many people are to come to terms with independence day speech of Mr. President justifying the previous increment, and now this. What is the problem with this country? What is the way forward? Who have we offended as a nation? So many questions.
INCREASING PRICE OF PETROL IS ADDING INSULT TO INJURY – Henry Ukazu, Legal Practitioner
I think it is insensitive for the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase petrol price at this point in time when Nigerians are barely trying to survive. Nigerians are already suffering and feeling the heat of COVID-19, #EndSARS and unemployment. Increasing the price of petrol is like adding insult to injury.
I think this government has not been honest with their policies. They promised to reduce the price of petrol, but the reverse seems to be the case. They promise to create job opportunities, but unemployment has increased. The issue is not even increment in fuel price, but that Nigerians have no trust in the government. In fact, they increment looks like a scam. The Federal Government should look for ways to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians, instead of adding more pains.
I will strongly advise the Federal Government of Nigeria to reconsider the price and work on meeting the pressing demands of Nigerians which is opposed to increasing the price of petrol which is not an important issue.
NO RESPECT, SYMPATHY OR FEAR OF THE PEOPLE – Felicia Onyeanwula
Amid the growing unrest in the country, the President Muhammadu Buhari led government has considered it an appropriate response to add another shock to an already beleaguered populace by increasing the pump price of fuel to N168-170. It is unbelievable that while most governments around the world are trying to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their people, this particular group of aliens are looking for every means to increase the suffering of their people.
This is one more proof that this present administration and its political elites do not have any respect, sympathy or fear of the people. We might infer that the only thing to do is to continue speaking up and acting with determination to end this arrogance in government.
In all, every Nigerian, including those who wished to remained silent as a result of party affiliation and job description, believe that the increment is absurd, uncharitable and wicked, especially coming from a government that claims to be absolutely welfaristic.