Fuel price: NLC, NUJ, and others fume as rage and dissatisfaction spread across the country

Nigerians were shocked on Tuesday by another increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, or PMS, also known as fuel.

According to the Gist House, residents around the country expressed outrage and disapproval, condemning the decision as insensitive.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu proclaimed the end of the gasoline subsidy regime in his inaugural address on May 29, 2023.

Despite the fact that the subsidy regime only applied to the month of June, oil marketers quickly adjusted their meters to N500 and more per litre of gasoline.

However, less than two months later, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, Limited (NNPCL) announced another increase, blaming it on market forces.

It comes as citizens are still dealing with the aftereffects of the May 29 increase, which saw the pump price of petrol jump from roughly N197 per litre to over N500.

Following the May 29 hike, many Nigerians parked their vehicles and resorted to commercial vehicles, which they believed more cost-effective. Others sold their vehicles.

Transportation, food, other items, and vital services have all seen dramatic price increases.

Meanwhile, the Gist House adds that the commodity’s price varies across the country.

It sells for N617 and more in the nation’s capital, Abuja, particularly at NNPC filling stations.

That cannot be stated for other cities.

While many filling stations in Ogun State are not dispensing, those that have opened for business are selling for N650 per litre.

Usman Adeola, an irate cab driver in the state, said, “It is not good, Nigerians are just being made to suffer every day.” Our children are in school, but we have not paid their tuition or rent, and even feeding ourselves is a struggle.

“I swear to God, I haven’t eaten anything today.” I’m a cab driver, and I’m waiting in line. The car owner is expecting daily returns.”

Yemisi Oladapo, an Ondo state civil servant, expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome, saying, “We had hoped for a change, a departure from the policies that burdened us under the Buhari administration.”

“However, we now find ourselves in a similar situation.” “This is unacceptable, and it is a clear betrayal of the people’s trust,” he said.”

“I thought I was in a trance when I got to the filling station and heard that petrol is now N617,” said Tunde Akinkunmi, a merchant. This is criminal, I must say.

“We had no prior knowledge of this heinous deed. They simply awoke and upped the price.”

The price per litre in Kwara State ranges between 559 and 617, whereas it costs between N617 and N620 in Niger State.

In Ebonyi State, a litre costs N620 in the city, while those in rural areas pay between N650 and N700 per litre. In neighboring Enugu, a few filling stations dispensed the product at N550 to N620; many others closed down as soon as the increase was announced.

Mr Samson Okoro, a resident of Enugu, Coal City State, claims that the government has driven Nigerians into unnecessary suffering by placing the wagon before the horse.

“What the government should have done first is resurrect our refineries; this should have happened before the subsidy was removed.”

“You cannot rely on total importation, yet you are quick to remove subsidies; you can see where that has gotten us.”

“I advise the government to review the entire process because the masses will not accept it any longer and will revolt.”

“The suffering is excruciating; something must be done, and quickly,” he said.

A gallon costs N600 in Damaturu, Yobe State capital; N595 to N600 in Abia; N650 in Imo; N600 to N620 in Akwa Ibom; N617 to N640 in Rivers; N610 to N650 in Kaduna; N580 to N650 in Oyo; N620 to N630 in Cross River; and N617 in Lokoja, Kogi state capital.

Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), was the first to announce the new price rise to Gist House on Tuesday.

He believes that fuel costs will continue to fluctuate due to market forces.

“That is the regime we are in with the elimination of fuel subsidies.” Prices will continue to fluctuate due to market factors and currency fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. That is why we are advocating for a fuel alternative,” he remarked.

Both the NNPCL and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, agree on the increase.

Read: SERAP directs Tinubu to publish the spending of N400 billion in fuel subsidy savings

They said that the government was no longer in a position to set the commodity’s market price.

After a private meeting with the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday in Abuja, NNPCL’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Malam Mele Kyari, explained that the increase in the price of PMS has nothing to do with supply concerns.

He attributed it to market factors.

“I don’t have the specifics right now.” We have the Marketing Wing of the organization, and they alter prices based on market realities.

“And this is what it means to ensure that the market regulates itself so that prices rise and fall; this is exactly what we are seeing; in reality, this is how the market works.”

“What I know is that market forces will regulate the market; prices will go down sometimes and up sometimes, but there will be supply stability,” he stated.

According to Alhaji Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of the NMDPRA, the authority does not decide the price of the product, but rather the market does.

“As a regulator, you know I told you back in May that we are not going to set prices; the market will determine itself, and as you saw in early June when prices were released, they were based on the cost of importation plus other logistics of distribution and, of course, the importer’s profit margin.”

“This market is unregulated and accessible to all participants.” “As I mentioned yesterday (Monday) in Lagos, we have about 56 marketing companies that have applied for and received import licenses,” he said.

According to Gist House, the over N100 increase has sparked countrywide outrage, especially with the issue of palliatives still unresolved.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, promptly rejected the raise, accusing the administration of impoverishing the poor while enriching the wealthy.

It also rejected the now-suspended N8, 000 palliatives for the country’s 12 million families.

In a statement, NLC President Joe Ajaero branded the proposal as “robbing the poor to pay the rich.”

Ajaero also stated that it is no longer interested in the federal government’s Committee to mitigate the effects of the loss of gasoline subsidies on Nigerians because it failed to establish a National Steering Committee.

“There is no other way to explain the proposal to pay a misery sum of N8,000 Naira to each of the mysterious poorest 12 million Households for six months which amounts to N48,000 and pays just 469 National Legislators N70b or about N149m each, while the Judiciary that has about 72 Appeal Court Judges, 33 National Industrial Court Judges, 75 Federal High Court Judges and 21 Supreme Court Judges and a total of about 201 Judges receives a total of N35b or N174m each.

“If these other two arms are projected to receive this, what members of the Executive Council will receive is best left to Nigerians’ imagination; perhaps the remaining N150 billion will go to them.”

“The NLC would prefer not to be a part of the usual charade of Committees with never-implemented outcomes.” We would not want to waste Nigerians’ time, particularly workers on Committees that have already been planned to fail and so ignored,” the statement reads in part.

Similarly, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, slammed the Federal Government, bemoaning the residents’ level of suffering.

The NUJ, in a statement issued by its National Secretary, Shuainu Usman Leman, expressed concern about the recently announced increase in the Pump Price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, to N617 per litre in Abuja and N568 in Lagos.

“The development has already resulted in an astronomical increase in transportation costs, with food prices soaring almost beyond the reach of many citizens, even as generator users are already groaning uncontrollably under the current conditions.”

“While we applaud the decision to eliminate the costly fuel subsidy, we warn against hasty implementation of the policy without mitigating measures in place to cushion the excruciating effect.”

“We are saddened by the fact that most people today can hardly commute to work or other places of business without experiencing significant stress.”

“We believe that this decision is excessive, and we urge that the situation be reversed immediately while adequate measures are considered and implemented to mitigate the impact on ordinary Nigerians.”

Mr Mike Osatuyi, National Operations Controller of IPMAN, said Tuesday night on Arise TV news that Nigerians should expect future swings to be determined by market forces.

“It can also come down,” he added when asked if the price would still rise.

“What we are using now is old stock that is running out; new products are now being discharged, which will affect the new price,” he added.

“It could still fall depending on market forces, the dollar, and the forex.”

“Like in the diesel market, there was a time when it was N800, a time when it came to N500, N600, and that is what we will be witnessing, but if crude goes today to N120, N110 dollars per barrel, it is to the benefit of Nigeria, because you will get more money, but at the same time, we cannot have our cake and eat it.”

“That is why I said transparency is very important in this game, so Nigerians can see what they are spending their money on, if we have fast trains, transportation, and cheap food…”

In an apparent response to the widespread uproar, President Tinubu on Tuesday ordered an immediate review of the planned N8,000-a-month allowance for 12 million Nigerian households.

Dele Alake, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications, and Strategy, made the announcement.

Tinubu also directed that the federal government’s whole palliative package be made public to Nigerians.

“That the N8,000 conditional cash transfer program, which is intended to help the most vulnerable households, be reviewed immediately.” This is in response to the opposition raised by Nigerians.

“That the entire gamut of government palliative packages be unveiled to Nigerians.”

“Immediate distribution of fertilizers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households in all 36 states and the FCT.”

“The President also assures Nigerians that the N500 billion approved by parliament to alleviate the pain caused by the end of the subsidy regime will be used wisely.” Beneficiaries of the reliefs will be Nigerians of all ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds.

“President Bola Tinubu has promised to always prioritize Nigerians’ well-being, and he is unwavering in his commitment.” “A number of decisions made by this Administration thus far have bolstered this stance,” the presidential spokesperson added.

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