There is no respite yets for petrol consumers in Nigeria as fuel prices keep skyrocking.
They have continued to groan under the burden of skyrocketing prices, as Premium Motor Spirit almost hit N400 per litre over the weekend.
The PUNCH market survey over the weekend showed while stations belonging to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria were selling products at around N190 per litre, stations belonging to members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria jerked up prices to between N320 and N340 per litre.
National Controller, Operations, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, told The PUNCH on Sunday that price was unlikely to hit N400 per litre.
According to him, his members now buy products at N280/litre at depots.
President Buhari had last week set up a 14-man committee that he would be heading to proffer solutions to the lingering fuel scarcity.
Osatuyi disclosed that the committee would be inaugurated this week.
“With the way the president has set up the committee, Nigerians should expect something good. The committee will work with operators and stakeholders and they will call us for meetings, where we will tell them what to do.
“If NNPC gives us products directly and we don’t have to pass through third parties, prices will crash. IPMAN members account for 80 per cent of products in the market. So, why won’t they give us products directly? Where MOMAN stations can’t get to, our members are there! As of the weekend, we bought the product for N280 per litre before we now add transportation on it depending on the distance. So, we will sell at any price.
“You can quote me on this. NNPC is subsidising their pockets and not Nigerians. The subsidy they claim is in their pockets,” he said.
Osatuyi alleged that the state oil firm had started to avoid talks with oil marketers, and had since abandoned them to their fate.
According to him, NNPCL had failed Nigerians as the firm was completely void of solution to the scarcity, adding that the new Managing Director of the NNPCL Retail, Hubbs Stockman had not agreed to meet with them recently to proffer a solution to the petrol crisis.
He claimed the President would not have set up a steering committee if the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had not failed in its responsibility to address the fuel scarcity.
“There is currently confusion in the downstream sector because NNPCL has not been able to address the scarcity. There is no fuel. Even NNPCL has not been able to import fuel, because if they have, they will give us. Now, the white man is avoiding us. He does not want to address us. How can you set up a system, yet refuse to meet with us for feedback? I don’t know what they are hiding from us. The white man is not open with us,” Osatuyi said.
Fuel scarcity has been lingering since the last quarter of last year, with price moving from N165 to over N300 per litre.
As of Sunday, dense gridlocks caused by motorists queuing to buy petrol were still observed on Lagos highways.
Black marketers were also seen making brisk cash, as they hawk petrol in kegs.
Sources at the depot told The PUNCH that depot owners increase prices based on the foreign exchange price per day.
“Do you follow forex at the black market at all? Because if you do, you would agree with me, that forex changes every day. If forex changes daily, then, landing costs will also have to change,” the source told The PUNCH when asked why ex-depot prices of petrol were increasing on a daily basis.
Nigerian youths under the auspices of the Nigerian Youth Congress for Peace and Development had called on the President to disband the leadership of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company to address the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.
The youths, who lamented the suffering which the fuel scarcity had caused Nigerians, also called on the President to suspend all the election processes to tackle the problem.
In a statement issued in Jos on Sunday and jointly signed by its President, Ebi Dennis and the Secretary, Abdul Idi Ladduga, the youths equally gave the President two weeks ultimatum to meet their demands or be ready to face protests from the Nigerian youths until the issues were resolved.
The statement read, “Nigerian Youth Congress for Peace and Development (NYCPD) is saddened by the unbearable level of artificial hardship Nigerians are being subjected to owing to fuel scarcity and the sudden jerk in the price of Premium Motor Spirit by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).”
The group said the recent adjustment in the pump price was done without adequate consultation with relevant stakeholders in the oil and gas value chain.
“To our greatest surprise, His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, like other Nigerians first got to know about the increment of the price from rumour mills. That triggered him to issue a press statement through his Media Adviser, Mr Horatius Egua, denying the obvious fact of the adjustment and equally assuring Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari, hasn’t approved the upward review of PMS price. He further assured Nigerians that Mr President has not seen any reason why the price of the product has to go up.
“According to the Minister: “What is playing out is the handiwork of mischief makers and those planning to discredit the achievements of Mr. President in the oil and gas sector of the economy”
In response to the above, the team said it delegated some of its members to visit NNPCL retail to ascertain the extant price of the product.
“To our greatest surprise, NNPCL has since adjusted their pump price, the same applies to all Stations owned by Major Marketers. Numerous independent Marketers are selling it above N400 where it is available.
“What we have failed to understand is whether NNPCL no longer reports to the Minister of State for Petroleum and Resources, who is the middle man between them and Mr President, who is the senior minister?
“Is NNPCL now in the hands of mischief makers and those planning to discredit President Muhammadu Buhari?”
Osatuyi told The PUNCH that removal of fuel subsidy and deregulation was the key to resolving the fuel scarcity menace.
“The permanent solution is to deregulate and remove subsidies. Allow the market to be a free market where marketers other than the NNPC will be able to bring in products. Since the government said the subsidy will be removed in June, let’s wait and see. But until then, we have to manage,” he told The PUNCH over the phone on Sunday.
Chairman, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Olumide Adeosun had in Lagos, also told journalists that deregulation of the downstream sector would eradicate fuel scarcity.
“Having subsidised PMS for so long, Nigerian institutions now have a diminished capacity to deal with the current local energy crisis. A disruption in any part of the supply chain causes ripple effects and results in queues at stations. As a country, we must begin the process of price deregulation to reduce this inefficient subsidy,” he said.