Following the increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, many Nigerians on Friday slammed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for the development.
Those who knocked the President included a leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; a former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; a former presidential aide, Dr Umar Ardo; and a former Director-General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof Akpan Ekpo.
They described the Buhari-led Federal Government as insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, saying the citizens were already dealing with a myriad of issues such as unemployment, poverty, inflation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, based on the development, associations such as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria have predicted that the times ahead would be tougher.
They said the increased petrol price would worsen inflation and poverty, as well as lead to the collapse of many businesses.
With the latest hike, petrol price has increased by about four times in 2020. It had risen from N121.50–N123.50 per litre in June and N140.80-N143.80 in July and N148-N150 in August.
Following the deregulation of petrol prices in September, marketers across the country adjusted their pump prices to between N158 and N162 per litre to reflect the increase in global oil prices.
However, again on Friday, the pump price of petrol was hiked — after the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the Federal Government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N147.67 per litre to N155.17 per litre.
The PPMC, in an internal memo with reference number PPMC/C/MK/003, dated November 11, 2020, and signed by Tijjani Ali, said the new ex-depot price would take effect from Friday.
The ex-depot price is the price at which the product is sold by the PPMC to marketers at the depots.
In its PMS price proposal for November, the PPMC put the landing cost of petrol at N128.89 per litre, up from N119.77 per litre in September/October.
It said the estimated minimum pump price of the product would increase to N161.36 per litre from N153.86 per litre.
The National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Mike Osatuyi, told one of our correspondents that the over N7 increase in the ex-depot price would translate into an increase in pump prices.
“We are expecting the pump price to range from N168 to N170 per litre,” he said.
Based on the new hike in petrol price, many Nigerians slammed the Buhari-led Federal Government, as well as the NNPC, whose action of hiking the ex-depot price led to the increase in the pump price.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, described the situation as “a sad story,” saying the Buhari regime had shown that nothing good should be expected from it.
The 92-year-old elder statesman said, “It will worsen the rate of inflation, poverty and seriously affect businesses; you don’t need a crystal ball to know that. We are complaining about one thing, you are doing another thing.
“When we talk about the situation in the country, people like us get irritated because the man (Buhari) is doing everything with impunity. I’m not a happy old man; I’m very sad. Former heads of state have approached him to tell him that this is not how to run a country, can you beat that?
Also, Ezekwesili said what the petroleum sector was desperately in need of was not the “cosmetic price-fixing measures of this administration that it continues to wrongly call deregulation.”
She said real deregulation and liberalisation of the petroleum sector would result in the same kind of structural change that happened in the telecommunications sector, making it possible for the poorest to have access to mobile phone services when competition among private sector companies terminated the previous government monopoly and the costly inefficiency of NITEL’s provision of telephone services.
“I guarantee Nigerians that the office of the President will no longer be attractive to those whose only interest is to control revenue from oil once we do real deregulation and liberalisation of the sector.
“That’s why they are reluctant to do real deregulation of the sector. They benefit from the government control and stagnation of the petroleum sector even if it brings suffering to the people,” she said.
On his part, Ardo said the increment in petrol price was in a bad taste. He said it was aimed at making the people poorer, adding that the exchange rate had gone up since the announcement of the new petrol price regime.
He said, “This regime promised to fix the refineries but has refused to even fix a single one since it came to office more than five years ago.
“The regime is not a thinking one. Of course, the action will further add to the problems of the citizenry. Already, the exchange rate has gone up. A dollar now goes for N472. So, how do we cope? The price of electricity has gone up. The poor are in a serious problem. Their purchasing power has further gone down.”
Similarly, Ekpo knocked the Federal Government for the increase in petrol price, stating that with the situation, the government had shown insensitivity to the citizens’ plight at a time when Nigerians were struggling with hunger and poverty.
He said, “In these times of poverty and (COVID-19) pandemic, it is not the right time to increase the petrol price. The government should have found a better way to go about it. It doesn’t make sense; they (government) are bringing untold hardship to the people who are already suffering.”
“They should rescind it. It is a very insensitive decision to take,” Ekpo added.
Some Nigerians also vented their frustration at the Buhari’s regime on social media.
A Twitter user, @CDazlyn, said, “Fuel at N170? I don’t understand this kind of hardship. The hike in price in almost everything is making things extremely difficult for young entrepreneurs. Who did we offend?”
Another twitter user, @iam_obabee, lamented that the citizens’ real income would drop further, and worried that the poverty level would increase.
Tagging the NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in a tweet, another Twitter user, @Moralevitaes, wrote, @NNPCgroup, @cenbank, @NigeriaGov, thank you for making life miserable for Nigerians. It will be on record that the government of PMB [acronym for ‘President Muhammadu Buhari’] was the most insensitive to Nigerians.”
Also expressing anger, @thatedocutie tweeted, “People can barely survive on two square meals. People are suffering. Somebody cannot wake up to (hear) good news from the FG.”
@Ihinosen5 tweeted that for the first time in his adult life, he did not look forward to celebrating Christmas, adding, “Everything happening in this country is tiring.”
@ladumdum tweeted that the increased petrol price amid other anti-people policies like increased Value Added Tax would pile more suffering on the people.
Also, @Lbgobo tweeted, “What kind of country is this? The country is getting harder [to live in] by the hour. Other countries are reducing the suffering of their citizens, especially during this pandemic. Our own is increasing it [suffering] ‘geometrically’ in all sectors.”
Gloria Ayeni also tweeted, “Income is not increasing, yet the cost of living is increasing daily. You cannot keep making life difficult for the average Nigerian with no extra provision for them. It’s unfair.”
Similarly, a Facebook user, Jimoh Abimbola, said with all that was happening in the country, the government ought to be empathetic to the citizens’ plight.
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