…says price to go up after election
A former President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (PENGSSAN), Mr Peter Esele, over the weekend, said that the implication of the increment in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol or fuel, is that the Federal Government had commenced partial deregulation of the downstream sector.
Esele, who is a former President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), in an interview with New Telegraph, also said the price increment would still not solve the fuel scarcity and other associated problems.
He called on FG to be transparent and open to Nigerians, adding that it should tell Nigerians what the situation is and how it is planning to address it.
Esele said: “It will still not solve the problem because what is there is that they must have a government policy in place. What they have done now is that they are selling N185 in Lagos State, South West, N190.
“Ordinarily these are things that should come by the government coming out. I said it that Lagos will be selling at N185, South West, N190; Abuja, N195; North Central, N190; North East, and North West, N200.
“What you have done is partial deregulation. But the bottom line now is how do we know how many litres we are now subsiding because the subsidy is taking at the mother vessel. There is no subsidy paid at the daughter vessel’s end. So if you do not pay subsidy at the daughter vessel end, what you will have is that the depot owners can sell at how much they want to sell. Still, right now, the depot owners do not sell for anything less than N200, it is about N205 and N210.
“So they will still continue to increase the price. What they are trying to do is hold on a little bit till after the election, if it happens that they win the election or whatever, they will go the whole hug.
“What they are doing now is to at least try and make the product available. But the election will not allow them. They would have gone ahead to do what they want to do. They are afraid of the election. It will impact on voters greatly if they do what they want to do now. There is a political and economic sides of subsidy removal. So the government is trying to find a balance.”
He added: “My advise to the government is that they should be more transparent. They should tell Nigerians what is happening. Whoever emerges as the next Nigeria’s President, I do not envy the person. Because there are a lot of challenges to address. There is the N77 trillion debt to handle. 60 per pent of our revenue is going to be used for debt servicing and it is going to increase.
“There are a lot of challenges so government should educate and inform Nigerians more on the challenges we are facing. This is why we are going to do what we are going to do. And these are the implications and this is how are going to deal with, the effect, if people know, it will not be so tough.
“2023 will be tough. Nigerians should be prepared that the road ahead is going to be tough. So if the road ahead is going to be tough, we must focus on the very essentials of life. That should be our focus. Hold on to what you have. This period is not going to be for shutdown or strike. No! It is a period for all us to stay afloat. We should be our brother’s keepers and look out for each other because of the challenges ahead, for the sake of our mental health.
“What they (FG) are going to do in April, I think is to try to push it to N300 band,. If we go with the current global crude oil price, it will be about between N380 and N450. You are not going to get petrol for less than N350 when they remove the subsidy at the rate of dollars now. You are going to buy at different prices. Lagos will be the cheapest probable N350, if you go up north, you are going to pay more than that because of the cost of transportation and trucking. If you look at the Southeast, you do not have fuel scarcity there because they have ordinarily deregulated long ago because you do not get the normal price of petrol. Places like Aba and Umuahia. They know how to roll with life. We also have something to learn from them on how to roll with life.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, had said the Federal Government could commence the removal of the fuel subsidy from April 2023.
But many Nigerians were, however, taken aback following reports that the Federal Government on Thursday directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) to adjust the pump price of petrol up to N185 per litre.
It was also reported that while the NNPCL retail outlets or petrol stations in Lagos now sell a litre of PMS for N185, it is sold for N194 in Abuja.