Why is this government doing things as if its main agenda is to deliberately inflict pain and hardship on Nigerians? How can a government that rode on the back of the poor masses of this country to power be this insensitive or rather blatantly wicked and anti-people?
Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, since the history of the downstream subsector of the Nigerian oil industry there has never been an era of confusion and pursuit of selfish interests like the present Mohammadu Buhari’s dispensation.
The minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva must have thought he was talking to fools when he declared as part of their damage control that “left to President Muhammadu Buhari, there will not be an upward review in the price of petrol.”
Can anyone imagine that Sylva could tell journalists in Abuja that the federal government is not in charge of fixing the prices of petroleum products in the country? Does the NNPC and its strategic business unit, the PPMC, have a life of their own outside the Presidency?
Who is the Petroleum Minister that the top management of the nation’s apex oil concern takes directives from, is it not President Buhari? So what does the junior minister mean by his statement?
Hear him: “It is unfortunate that citizens are blaming the government for the increase when the focus of the authorities is to protect the interest of citizens.
“Government is no longer in the business of fixing prices for petroleum products, we have stepped back.”
If government has stepped back from fixing prices, why was it the PPMC that announced the new ex-depot price template or is PPMC an NGO?
What kind of people do we have running this government? The minister of state cannot even present a smart lie. Haba!
How do you explain that from N145 through N148 petrol prices in the last few weeks, the PPMC announced a new depot price of N151.56 which immediately catapulted the retail pump price to N161or more for a litre?
Was Sylva aware that the PPMC prior to the final onslaught adjusted the ex-depot price of petrol twice within a few hours?
Thus far, the only reason adduced by the NNPC for the price jack up was that it was as a result of a rise in the price of crude oil in the international market,
which affected the price of petrol locally. Haba!
According to the corporation, “In June 2020, the average crude oil price further increased by $10.04, or 34.7 per cent, month-on-month, m-o-m, to $38.97 per barrel. Similarly, the OPEC Reference Basket (ORB) increased by $11.88, or 47.2 per cent m-o-m, to $37.05 per barrel, while ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI rose by $8.36, or 25.8 per cent and $9.79, or 34.3 per cent, to close at $40.77 per barrel and $38.31 per barrel respectively.”
This traditional argument is rubbish at best. If petrol price in this country was N87 per litre when the prices of crude oil at the international markets hovered around $100 per barrel how do you explain that it is now N151.56 or rather N161 when crude oil prices at the spot markets is $38.97 per barrel?
The question is: what parameters did the NNPC/PPMC use to arrive at the current price template given the prevailing values in the international market?
And why is the NNPC still fixing prices of petrol when they have told us that the sector is fully deregulated and no longer subsidised?
It is insulting for the ruling All Progressive Congress to try to defend the latest wave of price jack-up by saying in its statement that “The pricing template now reflects competitive and market-driven components which is supported by the citizenry.” Which citizenry was the party referring to, Nigerians or ghosts?
Just as Nigerians were still trying to make sense out of the confusion in the downstream petroleum industry, concerning the price of petrol and whether it has been fully deregulated or not, the issue of subsidy (under-recovery) payments on petrol, again resurfaced, as the NNPC last week, said it incurred over N5.35 billion as under recovery in June 2020.
According to its Monthly Financial and Operation Reports for June 2020, released last weekend, the NNPC said it had recorded zero subsidy payments in April and May 2020, after it had recorded under recovery of N43.31 billion, N20.68 billion and N37.66 billion in January, February and March 2020 respectively.
Recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, had few weeks back, stated that the Federal Government had deregulated the downstream petroleum sector since March 2020, thereby relieving the government of the burden of fuel subsidy and giving oil marketers the freedom to determine fuel price, with guidance from the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
So how can NNPC reconcile paying itself the abolished subsidy for June? Maybe the corporation has even collected those of July and August. Nigeria we hail thee!
Curiously, the peculiarity with the current NNPC’s system of subsidy is that since 2017, the corporation had been the sole importer of petrol into the country and the organisation is making the payments to itself by deducting the amount as cost from its revenue before making remittances to the Federation Account. Meanwhile it does not pay a dime to other oil marketers as was the case in past subsidy regimes. You see the scam?
Without mincing words, The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) told the media in Abuja that they did not receive a dime as subsidy payments from government..
According to the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Ukadike Chinedu, “it was surprising to hear of subsidy payments when the downstream sector had been deregulated.
“They didn’t pay us any subsidy money. You are also aware that the market has been deregulated. We are now dispensing products based on international crude oil market price.
“You are also aware that in the months of February, March, April, May and June, the PPPRA released guiding prices for petrol based on price deregulation. So as at what point did the subsidy come in?”
The National President, PETROAN, Billy Gillis-Harry, also reportedly said members of his association were not paid any money.
How longer can this nation afford to allow this deliberately created confusion to continue? As we talk, no one knows the exact amount to pay for one litre of petrol anywhere across the country. We now understand why it makes better sense to the government people to import all the fuel we need rather than make genuine efforts to revamp our nameplate refineries. God will sure judge all of you without exception. God bless Nigeria!
- Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja/ email@example.com; 234-8033043009.