• Petrol now N537/litre in Abuja, N557 in Borno, N488 in Lagos • Commuters groan as transport fares spike • FG, Labour spoil for showdown
By Bimbola Oyesola, Jeff Amechi Agbodo, (Onitsha), Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Bamigbola Gbolagunte (Akure), and Oluseye Ojo (Ibadan)
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday, said the new fuel price increase template announced by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was unacceptable and should be withdrawn immediately.
In the new template released yesterday, pump price in Lagos would sell at N488 per liter, while in Abuja and Borno it will sell at N537 and N557 per liter respectively.
The national oil company also released new prices for PMS for other states under its deregulation policy.
Yesterday, the hike in product prices sparked off increases in transport fares across the country with most commuters stranded.
Describing the new price regim as an ambush that runs against the spirit and principles of Social Dialogue, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said the Federal Government should immediately instruct the NNPC to withdraw “this vexatious pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.”
Ajaero warned that Nigerians would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties especially from the representatives of the government.
“We are worried that the Government through the NNPC despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products, went ahead this morning to announce a new price regime under a new pricing template,” he said.
According to Ajaero the action is considered as an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of Social Dialogue which he said remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum Down-stream sector.
He said government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of Petroleum products.
“This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured or become Market forces,” he stated.
The NLC president said the NNPC act is unacceptable and Organised labour seriously condemn it. He added that good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement.
He said, “What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of Nigerian people and bringing undue pressure on the leaders thus undermining the dialogue.”
He noted that labour commitment to the negotiation process is buoyed on the fact that all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure.
But he lamented that the release of that template may not allow labour to continue any dialogue if nothing wasdone to withdraw it to allow dialogue unhindered to continue. He added, “It is clear that Government is actually trying to scuttle the process.
“As it stands, the Federal Government has become fixated on their chosen course of action. Would this help this dialogue? It clearly will not.
This was as Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has appealed to petroleum products marketer’s to revert to old prize of petroleum products prior to announcement of subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu during his inaugural speech on May 29.
The group recalled that citizens of the country were sufferings from excruciating pains over hyper inflation, high cost of living, insecurity, youths restiveness and unemployment, increase in the prices of petroleum products will excerbate the plights and predicaments of the citizens.
The Chairman of Anambra State branch of CLO, Mr. Vincent Ezekweme, in a statement titled “let us be our brother’s keeper” reminded the oil marketer’s that the government has not officially increased the price of the petroleum products, hence it will be unpatriotic and disservice to the nation for them to arbitrary skyrocket the price of the petroleum products to the detriment, plights and predicaments of the citizens.
“The citizens are yet to recover from naira redesign, high cost of living and artificial hoarding of fuel and most pathetic recent astrological increase in prices of petroleum products due to yet to be removed oil subsidy.
“He threatened to penalise any filling station that sells above government regulated prizes.
“It is very unfortunate and unbearable that Anambrarians woke up this morning only to discovered that prices of petroleum products has skyrocketed between N600 to N800 depending on the location or the magnanimity of the owner of the Filling Station.
“Most pathetic the increased has resulted in astrological increases in prices of goods and services as transport fare has increased by 200 percent in less than 24 hours.
“If urgent steps are not taking by the government, the future just like the present will be very bleak and disastrous”.
Ezekwueme appealed to Hon. Ifeanya to marshal out plan to ensure implementations of his directive with actions and immediate effect by ensuring strict and prompt compliance of the government directive by petroleum products marketer’s to rescue the pathetic and despicable situation.
•Long queues resurface in Kano
In Kano, long queues of motorists resurfaced in filling stations in the metropolis of Kano State following Monday’sannouncement by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that his administration would not implement the fuel subsidy regime.
Daily Sun observed that many filling stations in thestate capital, which were hitherto reputed for regularly selling fuel product, were under lock and key since the presidential policy statement, while a few stations that had the product could not match the sudden bust of anxious buyers.
Investigations around the state capital showed that Total Filling Station on Airport Road, Wednesday morning, had no fewer than 100 vehicles waiting to buy fuel, besides hundreds of commercial tricycles operators who were also waiting to buy fuel. A similar experience was recorded at A.A Rano by Airport Road, Kano State, Tuesday where many vehicles slept across the night to be able to buy.
The prices per litter at these stations differdepending on the nature of the marketer in question, but generally prices fell between N400 to N560 per liter with chances that it mightstill go up by Thursday.
Black marketprices per gallon have hit the roof as the black market dealers sell at unreasonably exorbitantprices.
Motorists who spoke to Daily Sun at Shafa Filling Station along Murtala Mohammed Way decried the sad situation both in terms of cost and the loss of working-hour, describing the hours lost on queues as harmful to them in their placesof work.
They blamed President Tinubu for his poor leadershipskill, saying he ought not have announced such a sensitive policy at his inauguration ground.
Abubakar Haruna expressed fear that cost of living andtransport fares in the state would go up in coming days while regretting thattheir earnings as workers have not been increased by a single kobo. He appealed to the new administration to respond quicklyto the present challenge, saying that this was not the best way to rewardvoters for voting for the present administration.
•Akeredolu warns against artificial scarcity
Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu has warned petroleum marketers and owners of fuel stations in the state against hoarding Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
The warning came after long queues surfaced at filling stations across the state, notably in Akure, the state capital since Monday.
The Governor said all petrol stations in the state should dispense fuel in their tanks to ease the people of the long hours spent at fuel stations.
Consequently, Governor Akeredolu has directed the Governor’s Task Force to move around the state and deal decisively with any fuel station found hoarding the product.
In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Richard Olatunde, the Governor threatened that the state government would deal with any filling station found hoarding fuel.
The statement hinted that the task force on petroleum will move across the state henceforth to prevent artificial scarcity.
•Majority of petrol stations in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, have stopped dispensing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to customers, which made fewer vehicles to be on the road.
The few fuel stations that have, however, been dispensing the commodity to public have adjusted their metres, to N500 per litre.
A popular major marketer that dispensed the commodity at the rate of N195 up till the early morning of Wednesday March 31 2023, stopped selling the PMS abruptly.
The gate of the outlet was shut when some vehicles were within and outside the premises, waiting on tr queue for their turn. But those that had entered the premises were allowed to buy the commodity at the rate of N195 per litre.
Immediately, all the vehicles that entered the premises bought petrol, and left, the metre was adjusted to N500 per litre. Many vehicle owners that could not afford the new price left, complaining that if the particular fuel station could adjust its metre to N500 per litre, majority of other fuel stations would sell above N500.
The outlets owned by independent marketers have also stopped dispensing the commodity, saying they are waiting for order from the above for metre adjustments for a new price regime.
A move round Ibadan showed that all tr major marketers that have been selling te product have pegged their price at N500 per litre.
The hike in pump price d petrol has however, made transport to skyrocket. Ojoo to Total-Garden, which used to be N200 is now N500.
•Youth group backs Tinubu on subsidy
Meanwhile, a good governance and anti-corruption advocacy organisation, Youth Advocates Network (YAPJEN) has commended the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the removal of petroleum subsidy and it’s resolve to channel the funds to the building, upgrading and developing of infrastructure, improving education and health care delivery in Nigeria.
The group said that removal of subsidy will enable the government to channel Nigeria’s resources towards programme projects and infrastructure that will engander the achievement of the United Nations Global Goals.
The Executive Director, YAPJEN, Timothy Nwachukwu in a statement described the Fuel subsidy as a policy of previous government which was intended to assist the citizens to pay less as pump price per litre of petroleum product but unfortunately, turned to become a conduit pipe of corruption through which the collective wealth of the state was siphoned and unaccounted for.
He said that the citizens continued to pay a higher cost of petroleum products while available records as provided by NEITI revealed that Nigeria spent over N13 trillion ($74 billion) on fuel subsidies between 2005 and 2021.
Nwachukwu stated that despite generating billions of dollars in oil revenue, Nigeria has been unable to translate it into an improved welfare condition for the citizens while fuel subsidy created leeway for the criminally- minded elite to squander the commonwealth while successive governments demonstrated little or no political will to stem the decay in the oil sector, as underlined by the reluctance to prosecute oil thieves, some of whom are directly or indirectly connected to the apparatus of the state.
He further blamed corruption, inefficiencies, smuggling mismanagement, abuse of national monopoly powers and excessive subsidizing the supply of refined crude oil products in the country as the reason for the intractable economic development that has worsened the plight of ordinary Nigerians.
The Director of YAPJEN appealed to Nigerians to endure the momentarily pain occasioned by the removal of subsidy as private Refineries like the Dangote and other modular Refineries across the country will bridge the gap in meeting the ever increasing local demand of petroleum products and for exportation purposes.
Nwachukwu however called on President Tinubu to strengthen the fight against corruption and establish a regulatory framework to protect citizens as necessary measures to help improve the poor state of Nigeria’s economy.