The federal government yesterday said it had not approved a new petrol pump price, stating that such decisions were usually not taken in secret or without consultation.
In a statement in Abuja, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, urged Nigerians to disregard any information to the contrary, explaining that “this is not the time” for any such upward review.
Some news outlets had yesterday reported that the government had officially increased the price of petrol by 8.8 per cent to N185 per litre, from the existing N170 per litre. They also insinuated that the ex-depot price had shot up from N148 per litre to N167.
But in the statement signed by the Senior Adviser, Media to the minister, Mr. Horatius Egua, Sylva insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari had not approved any price increase for the product “as it is being bandied around.”
He stated that any increase now would mean the president backtracking on his pledge to make sure prices are not raised at this time given current national challenges.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has not approved any increase in the price of petrol or any other petroleum product for that matter. There is no reason for the president to renege on his earlier promise not to approve any increase in the price of petrol at this time.
“Mr. President is sensitive to the plights of the ordinary Nigerian and has said repeatedly that he understands the challenges of the ordinary Nigerian and would not want to cause untold hardship for the electorate,” Sylva pointed out.
He added: “Government will not approve any increase of petrol secretly without due consultations with the relevant stakeholders. The President has not directed the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) or any agency for that matter to increase the price of fuel. This is not the time for any increase in pump price of PMS.”
While promising to ensure normalcy returns to the supply of the product soon, Sylva said the rumours were planted by people he described as mischief makers.
“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.
“I appeal to Nigerians to remain calm and law abiding as the government is working hard to bring normalcy to fuel supply and distribution in the country,” the minister stressed.
In the meantime, members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have pegged current product availability at 50 per cent despite several claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) that it has sufficient products in stock.
The marketers also contended that there is confusion currently in the downstream sector of the oil industry as scarcity continues to linger nationwide. In many states of the federation a litre currently sells for as high as N400.
Speaking on a national television station, the Deputy National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Zarma Mustapha, disclosed that the volume of products lifted by oil marketers has dropped markedly.
Describing the current issues in the sector as complex, the top IPMAN chief expressed doubt whether the NNPC was importing enough products to meet local demand.
But the NNPC had on November 29, 2022, said it had a “National PMS stock of over 2 billion litres,” which according to it is equivalent to over 30 days of sufficiency.
“Sometime in July-August, the volume of lifting we had and what we have today has dropped by about 50 percent or 40 percent,” he added.
Mustapha also contended that the lingering presence of queues at fuel stations across the nation may be due to the high cost of subsidy.
“We are just assuming maybe the volume of the products they are bringing in – the more the volume, the more the cost of the subsidy.
“It doesn’t seem that they are bringing in more. If they’re bringing in more, we would be having the same volume that we usually get at the loading point.
“As of today, with what is trending in the private depots, the volume available is not enough. The private depots also contribute by not giving the product as it is being regulated by the NNPC,” he argued.
But Mustapha pointed out that he had not heard any official statement from NNPCL or the industry’s regulatory body, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) about insufficient supply.
“But with the look of things, and with what is going on at the loading point, the product is not enough as they usually bring it, supply it to the private depots and we purchase from the private depots,” he said.
According to the IPMAN deputy president, NNPCL is presently saddled with importing the products and distributing them to private depots, adding that independent marketers do not have depots.
“Yesterday, I bought a product in Lagos at a depot at N247 per litre to be transported down to the far North at the cost of N50-N60 per litre. As of yesterday, it was going for about N240 in Lagos, N235 in Warri, and N240 in Port Harcourt. In Calabar, it’s as high as N250 per litre.
“As a marketer, you will buy that product for upward transmission to where your retail outlet is. You’ll transport it yourself,” he posited.
Underscoring the chaos in the sector, he noted: “There are a lot of confusions in the industry, which the government must come in and address these confusions so that the common man can get the product for the approved price.
“We cannot buy a product between 220 to 240 naira, transport it for about N50, which is already N300, and then expect the marketer to sell to the public for N200 or N190. It is not realisable,” he maintained.
Credit: This Day