The countdown to the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) strike has begun, as the leadership of the union are insisting that come Wednesday, all the industrial unions will force their colleagues to down tools.
Speaking on Sunday, the Vice President of the NLC, Mr Amechi Asugwuni, warned that it was ready to commence the strike unless the federal government reverses the pump price of petrol to N86.50k.
When asked if they have established talks with the government, he replied; “Not at all, there is no change of gear, our strike will begin on Wednesday.”
However, the position of the NLC is at variance with that of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, who claim that government consulted all the labour unions before putting the cap of 145 Naira per litre.
The two unions may not support Wednesday’s proposed strike as they have accused the NLC of making a U-turn.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, last Wednesday, addressed the media at the Presidential Villa where he announced the new pump price regime and also an opening of importation to independent marketers and any Nigerian entity.
The Nigerian government has expressed optimism that the new price band would lead to improved supply and competition expected to eventually drive down pump prices, as experienced with diesel.
Nigerians in the southwest have expressed displeasure with the new price band of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol.
Residents in Osogbo, Osun State’s capital woke up on Thursday morning to a protest by operators of commercial mini buses popularly known as ‘Korope’, in response to the 145 Naira per litre price band of petrol announced by the Federal Government.
The operators between the hours of 8:00AM and 12 noon, parked their buses along the roads in the town to protest the new pump price, leaving people going to their offices and businesses stranded.
They also used the medium to create awareness for the increase in transport fares from the range of 30 and 50 Naira to 50 and 80 Naira, depending on the distance.
Some of the commercial operators, Omoloye Oladapo and Tajudeen Olayemi, stressed that buying petrol at the rate of 145 Naira would definitely lead to increase in transportation fare.
A resident of Osogbo, Abdulkareem Olatunji, described the decision of the commercial drivers to down tool for some hours as unfair to the people, saying that it has affected their daily activities.
Residents of Ibadan in Oyo State are also crying out to the Federal Government to critically examine its decision on the fuel price increase, to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Going round the Ibadan metropolis, Channels Television crew found few petrol service stations selling at the new price band of 145 Naira per litre while majority were not selling.
Some of the motorists said that they had been on queue as early as 5:00AM in some filling stations without a hope of getting fuel.
Outrage and frustration were some of the emotions expressed by residents who spoke to Channels Television on the new price of petrol.
The senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani, has joined other Nigerians to condemn Wednesday’s increase in the pump price of petrol from N86.50k per litre to N145 per litre.
In a statement he issued on Thursday, Senator Sani described the decision by the NNPC to increase the pump price as insensitive and provocative.
“Its most unfortunate that at a time when poor Nigerians are facing enormous economic hardships and are being asked to be more patient, all the NNPC could do is to add to their suffering.
“It is utterly irrational and illogical to further impoverish the people in order to achieve liberal self-serving liberal economic aspirations.
“It is all evidenced that capitalist forces are holding the Federal Government hostage and are blackmailing it to implement its inimical version of economic reforms,” Senator Sani said.
He went further to say that it makes no sense if everyone must perish in order to revamp the economy, adding that economic reforms are necessary but must be done with a human face and human heart if it is made in the interest of human beings.
While describing the increase in pump price of petrol as a social provocation, Senator Sani called on President Muhammadu Buhari to weigh in on the NNPC to rescind the decision.
He also warned the Federal Government not to take the patience, sacrifice and goodwill of Nigerians for granted.
Residents of Kaduna State have kicked against the increase in pump price of petrol from N86.50k per litre to N145 per litre by the Federal Government.
Some of them interviewed by Channels Television correspondent in the state capital, described the increase as the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary citizens.
While describing the new price regime as ill-timed, considering the present harsh economic situation in the country, the residents called on the federal government to reverse the increment.
Already, major and independent petroleum marketers in the state capital have adjusted their pumps to the new price immediately the news broke out on Wednesday, although many of them had old stock in their tanks.
The marketers declined to speak to us on camera, but one of them insisted that he bought the product at a higher price and could not sell at the former price.
At Zeepet petrol station along Constitution road, the pumps had already been adjusted from N86.50k to N145 per litre of petrol, and there were still long queues. The situation was the same at the MRS station along Kachia road, also in the state capital.
One of the motorists who is a civil servant lamented that the new price, if not reversed or adjusted, will affect his economic fortunes.
The Minister stressed that no marketer has been told the amount to sell its product, but that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be hoping to sell at 135 Naira per litre.
“As we go into the hinterlands, NNPC stations will be hoping to head towards more of 135 Naira than the 145 Naira band.
“How did we come to the price of 145? It’s a simple conversion of using foreign exchange at 285. That 285 is from nowhere, it is basically the secondary source that people buy FX from versus the 320 which is black market.
“If you convert it and throw it in you will get about 141, 142 or 143. So there isn’t much of palliative elements left there for you to use. It is simply, ‘go out, find your product, your cost is covered, there is an opportunity for your efficiency to make money, come and deliver’.
“It is not the lifting of petroleum pricing that should be the basis in which government provides a palliative, government has a responsibility to provide social palliatives in an ordinary course of running the day to day administration of a government and they are doing that.
“If you look at 2016 budget, there are loads of such palliatives,” he said.
Full or Partial Deregulation
The Minister would not state if the latest move by the Nigerian government is full or partial deregulation. He said, “I try not to get into the semantics of deregulation or no deregulation but the reality is that we are liberalizing, we are freeing up the economy, and we are freeing up the business.
“The ultimate of what we are headed for is that everybody should be able to do the business, bring in the product.
“I hear people want to have an argument about whether it is full deregulation or partial deregulation but at the end of the day, the objective is what was achieved with diesel or AGO, which is that the government will have less control over the business and individuals will be free to compete so that Nigerians will have the advantage of that competition.
In response to questions regarding why the price of petrol has been capped when same has not been done for the price of diesel, Mr Kachikwu indicated that this could be a temporary situation.
“Because of the sensitivity of PMS, you want to be sure that at the initial stage there are some guidelines in terms of how you do your pricing but ultimately, obviously we will let the market dynamics take place,” he said.
He added, “What we have done is an upper cap, we have not told anyone what price to sell. We expect that the efficiencies will force people to determine their prices,” stressing that the price band of 135 to 145 Naira are “guideline prices”.
“It’s going to depend on how much you find your FX for, how efficient you are, how invested you are through the whole entire chain of the business because if you are invested in the tankage, importation, distribution and the logistics, you have greater efficiency and those will impact your prices.”
The Minister noted that the decision was made with the input of major players in the sector, stressing that this is a “transition period” towards achieving sufficient availability of the product.
Nigerians have also expressed fears that the 145 Naira price cap might give marketers the liberty to sell for far above 200 Naira considering the similar high prices it has been sold since fuel scarcity started across the country.
But the Minister assured Nigerians that the new measure would address this.
“NNPC provided all these products highly subsidized and people took advantage of it, went out and made their own profit margins. But now these individuals are going to start bringing in their own products.
“Even when NNPC sells its own product, it will sell at those prices, so there wouldn’t be opportunity for those short term arbitrages unless those benefits and pricing come from your own skill set, experience and efficiency,” he said.
In a statement by the union after a new price band of 145 Naira per litre for Premium Motor Spirit was announced by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the labour union said the increase was the least one had expected at this point in time.
The Nigerian government has introduced a new price band for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also referred to as petrol, pegging the highest price at 145 Naira per litre.
The new price was set on Wednesday after a meeting of various stakeholders presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The meeting had in attendance the leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives, Governors Forum, and labour unions – the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, NUPENG, and PENGASSAN.
Petrol scarcity had hit the oil-rich nation, lasting for over five months, the worst that the nation had experienced in the last decade.
At the meeting, it was emphasised that the main reason for the current problem was the inability of importers of petroleum products to source foreign exchange at the official rate due to the massive decline of foreign exchange earnings of the Federal Government.
As a result, private marketers have been unable to meet their approximate 50 per cent portion of total national supply of PMS.
In order to increase and stabilise the supply of the product, the government said any Nigerian entity could now import the product, subject to existing quality specifications and other guidelines issued by regulatory agencies.
A statement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said all oil marketers would be allowed to import PMS on the basis of foreign exchange procured from secondary sources, which would be reflected accordingly in the PPPRA template for pricing of the product.
“Pursuant to this, PPPRA has informed me that it will be announcing a new price band effective today, May 11 and that the new price for PMS will not be above 145 Naira per litre,” the Minister told the meeting.
“Inherited Difficulties Of The Past”
The government expressed optimism that the new price band would lead to improved supply and competition expected to eventually drive down pump prices, as experienced with diesel.
“In addition, this will also lead to increased product availability and encourage investments in refineries and other parts of the downstream sector. It will also prevent diversion of petroleum products and set a stable environment for the downstream sector in Nigeria.
“We share the pains of Nigerians but, as we have constantly said, the inherited difficulties of the past and the challenges of the current times imply that we must take difficult decisions on these sorts of critical national issues,” the statement further read.
The Minister said that along with this decision, the Federal Government had in the 2016 budget made an unprecedented ‘social protection provision’ to cushion the current challenges.
He explained that the exorbitant prices being paid by Nigerians for petrol, ranging from 150 Naira to 250 Naira per litre had triggered the decision.
“We believe in the long term, that improved supply and competition will drive down prices.
“The DPR and PPPRA have been mandated to ensure strict regulatory compliance including dealing decisively with anyone involved in hoarding petroleum products,” he stressed.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has again apologised to Nigerians for the prevailing long queues for petrol, saying “all is being done to address the situation”.
Mr Kachikwu alongside five other ministers rendered account of what had been done in terms of government policies since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration during the second Federal Government Town Hall Meeting in Kaduna State.
Dr. Kachikwu told the gathering that the three refineries in Nigeria were back, working together for the first time in almost a decade.
He, however, pointed out that though the refineries were not working to the capacity he would love to see them, a lot more work still needed to be done to get into the level of performance that he wanted.
“For the first time, we have pipelines delivering crude oil to the refineries both from Brass to Port Harcourt and from Escravos to Warri.
“This is the first time that has happened in eight years.
“For the first time in 20 years, we took the bold audacity to go ahead and try and restructure Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Unless we do that, the issues of transparency, staff morale and direction of policies will never work. We have successfully done that and that took massive amounts of work,” he stressed.
He pointed out that he was doing his best to deal with the fuel crisis, the worst that the nation had experienced in the last decade.
“The reality is that as long as the refineries do not work in absolutely top capacity, as long as we do not have the foreign exchange to bring in the product and the price of crude continues to slide, we will have problems with fuel. You have to apply brain work to it,” he told the gathering.
He urged Nigerians to be patient, as the government puts strategies in place to make petrol available.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, listed efforts that were being made by the current administration to plug leakages and ensure accountability in the use of funds.
“We have put in place several measures to ensure that cost efficiency in management of all classes of revenue.
“The Single Treasury Account is one of these measures,” she said.
According to her, the government has a very robust implementation plan that ensures effective interaction with Ministry Departments Agencies to find out capital projects which resources would be released for, with assurance that the projects would be undertaken.
“We are moving away from giving funds on a quarterly basis for capital projects to verifying what is required, and releasing funds on a project by project basis,” she stated.
Nigeria’s manufacturing activity slumped to a year-low of 46.5 reading in the month of April, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the investment and securities trading firm, FBN Quest.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index, designed to track manufacturing in big and small companies in Nigeria, was at a healthy 54.5 reading in March but falls sharply on the back of biting foreign exchange shortage, petrol scarcity and higher pump price as well as the delay in the release of the 2016 budget.
The report says manufacturers see no near-term optimism that new hiring will occur as the economy battles a slowdown.
Output reading at 42.0 was the lowest on the table since the FBN Quest PMI was launched a few years ago.
The Nigerian government has recommissioned Escravos-Warri-Kaduna pipeline to ensure that both Warri and Kaduna refineries receive crude simultaneously to boost production of refined products.
At the recommissioning of the 46 kilometre pipeline, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu who is also the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said that the development would ensure that the refineries contribute to fuel supply and reduce petrol shortage.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Garba Muhammad, in a statement quoted Dr. Kachikwu as saying that Warri refinery had started working while Kaduna would start production at the end of the month.
The Minister stressed that for the first time in many years all the three refineries and major crude pipelines would be working at the same time.
Dr. Kachikwu stated that Escravos terminal was the heart beat of the downstream sector of the industry and critical to local supply of finished petroleum product as both refineries in Warri and Kaduna were majorly fed from Escravos crude stock.
“The challenge of this country is the challenge of focus and stewardship. For the first time in many years the three refineries are going to be working and it will help in a great deal with the issue of fuel supply and distribution across the country and it will go a long way to manage the fuel crisis,” Dr. Kachikwu said.
He urged Nigerians to be more patient, as the NNPC was working hard to end fuel shortage across the country.
“I appreciate the patients of Nigerians and I am committed and focused to make petrol available to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria,” the Minister reassured.
Experts in energy economics are advocating the adoption of petroleum products export parity pricing mechanism or the use of prevailing market situation in the determination of the pump price of petrol in Nigeria.
This is one of the issues that will form the agenda at the up-coming International Conference of Energy Economists in Abuja.
It will focus on the role of natural gas and renewable energy resources on energising emerging economies.
President of the Nigeria Association for Energy Economics, Mr Wumi Iledare, said Nigeria must use the low oil prices regime to eliminate subsidy on petrol and deregulate downstream sector.
He also advocated the autonomy of agencies and parastatals in the petroleum sector.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has 17 days stock of Petrol, compared to the three to four days recorded at the peak of fuel shortage in March.
A Statement by the Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the NNPC, Mr Garba Muhammad, said five vessels belonging to the NNPC and other oil marketers had started discharging at various depots and jetties across Nigeria.
A total of 1,194 trucks were loaded nationwide with Lagos receiving 467 trucks while Abuja received 141 trucks, the corporation said.
While urging Nigerians not to engage in panic buying, the NNPC promised to give daily breakdown of product supplied to Nigerians until the situation fades away completely.
Queues at petrol service stations across Nigeria had become longer in the past few days, after the Minister of Petroleum said the scarcity would ease by the second week of April.
The Kaduna Refining and Petroleum Company has started daily production of 3.2 million litres of petrol, a vloume authorities hope will end queues at fuel service stations across Nigeria.
A statement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) confirmed that the plant, which commenced production over the weekend with an initial Premium Motor Spirit yield of about 1.5 million litres, has ramped up its daily yield to 3.2 million litres.
“The injection of this volume into the system will significantly impact ongoing special intervention efforts designed to bring relief to motorists across the country,” the Corporation stated.
The NNPC also said that less than 48 hours after the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, ordered staff of the NNPC to intervene in the monitoring of fuel distribution and retail system at service stations across Nigeria, the initiative has started yielding positive results in Abuja and environs.
Dr. Kachikwu had assured Nigerians that there was sufficient petrol and again appealed to motorists to desist from panic purchases.
He also warned that unscrupulous marketers, who either hoard or divert products, would henceforth be treated as economic saboteurs.
Shortly after visiting some retail outlets within Abuja’s Central Area, the Group Executive Director, Commercial and Investment of the NNPC, Dr. Babatunde Victor Adeniran, told reporters that so far, the exercise had recorded some success.
“Our staff are putting in all their best to ensure that orderliness is restored in most of the filling stations. They are also there to ensure that nobody creates a situation that will hamper the discharge of products to ordinary Nigerians. So far, they are doing well in this regard,”Dr. Adeniran stated.
“Spirit Of Orderliness”
He explained that the exercise was a hands-on approach designed to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer unnecessarily at the hands of unscrupulous marketers.
“The situation would be improved upon,” he said, urging security agencies to further complement the efforts of NNPC at service stations.
“At one of the filling stations in Asokoro today, the police came to assist us to clear out some motorists trying to jump the queue. That is most commendable,” he said.
Dr. Adeniran further urged Nigerians to cooperate with the NNPC and ensure the success of the initiative by being law-abiding and orderly to avoid chaotic situations at the service stations.
“I hope Nigerians can have the spirit of orderliness, the spirit of cohesion and the spirit of responsibility in order to help this process,” he observed.
It is two days to Christmas and queues are still seen at different service stations in some Nigerian States.