The Senate has said it will invite the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to explain the whereabouts of the over N800 billion collected for the maintenance of roads across the country.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan in a statement, stated that the funds meant to be remitted to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) cannot be swept under the carpet.
Lawan, in his concluding remarks on a bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act, 2002 and to establish the Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2019, stressed that corruption is responsible for some of the challenges facing the road sector in Nigeria.
“Corruption is also responsible for some of the challenges we face in our road sector.
“I believe that we need to demand what happened to over N800 billion that PPPRA was alleged to have collected.
“I think that we will take that as a separate issue because we need to verify and confirm, even for the sake of allowing PPPRA to defend itself, because this is not something that we can sweep under the carpet. N800 billion can do a lot of things for our country,” Lawan said.
According to the Senate President, previous efforts by Nigeria to concession government enterprise failed.
“We recall that the privatization of various enterprises was made right from 1986 till date, and in most cases the privatization or concessioning processes were flawed and of course, we suffer as a country.”
“So, we just have to be very careful. We insist we go on the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) partnership, but we have to ensure that everything is done within the law as required, so that no one takes advantage of his position in government to short-change the entire people of the country.”
Meanwhile, sponsor of the bill, Senator Gershom Bassey, in his lead debate, decried the pressure exerted on Nigerian roads, owing to the underdeveloped nature of other means of transportation.
“Funding is poor and comes in an unpredictable manner making the cost of road maintenance in Nigeria to be one of the highest in the world.
“But unfortunately, over 80 percent of goods and services are transported by road leading to tremendous pressure on our roads since other modes of transportation like rail and shipping are underdeveloped and air transport is too expensive for most Nigerians.”
He stated that the bill if passed into law would amongst other things, promote the sustainable development and operation of the road sector; and facilitate the development of competitive markets and the promotion of enabling environment for private sector participation in financing, maintenance and improvement of roads in Nigeria.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has reacted to what it described as the sudden re-appearance of queues at some filling stations in the country.
In a statement on Sunday by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, the PPPRA attributed the queues to speculation of a shortfall in the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
It noted that has continued to monitor products supply in the petroleum sector, in line with best practices.
The agency explained that this was in line with its mandate to regulate petroleum products supply and distribution, as well as establish an industry data bank.
It disclosed that the average daily supply of petrol for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 were about 46 million, 54 million and 56 million litres respectively.
According to PPPRA, the figures indicate an improved level of supply in 2019.
Based on the available data, it affirmed that there was an adequate supply of PMS with more than 21 days sufficiency.
“PPPRA, therefore, urges fuel consumers across the country to desist from panic buying as the agency would continue to monitor the supply situation and take every step required to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply chain,” the statement said.
The agency gave assurance that there was adequate product supply in the system to meet the demands of consumers.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has asked Nigerians to ignore news of a N5 increase in the price of petrol, saying it has not approved any price increase.
The agency, which is authorised to regulate the price of petroleum products in the country, said this in a statement in Abuja today.
Organised labour, the National Association of Nigerian Students and other groups have in recent days criticised the Senate and Federal Government over a plan to increase fuel price and vowed to resist any such attempt.
The criticism came after the Senate Committee on Works in its National Road Fund Establishment Bill, proposed a fuel levy charge that will make motorists to pay N5 tax on every litre of petrol bought at any filling station.
But the PPRA said it did not improve a hike in fuel price.
“The PPPRA has observed the growing speculation on a purported imminent increase in the pump price of PMS by N5 per litre. The agency hereby wishes to dispel this rumour and assuage the concerns of Nigerians,” the agency said in the statement by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu.
“As the agency of government saddled with the responsibility of regulating petroleum products pricing, supply, and distribution, we want to assure the Nigerian public that the subsisting pump price cap for PMS remains N145 per litre across the country and as such, Nigerians should please ignore the speculation on the price increase.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured Nigerians that it has no plan to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by the NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, the Corporation explained that the recent increase in bridging allowance to transporters from 6.20 Naira to 7.20 Naira per litre will not affect the prevailing petrol price of 145 Naira per litre.
According to the statement, the clarification was made in Abuja by the NNPC Chief Operating Officer (COO) in charge of Downstream Operations, Mr Henry Ikem Obih.
“Rebalancing Of The Margins”
Mr Obih said there was no plan by government or any of its agencies to review the pump price of petrol above 145 Naira per litre, adding that the rise in the bridging cost was achieved after an adjustment was made in the “lightering expenses” from Four Naira to Three Naira per litre, and the difference transferred to compensate for the cost of bridging within the same template.
The bridging allowance refers to the cost element built into the products pricing template to ensure a uniform price of petrol across the country, while lightering expenses involve charges for moving products to depot area from mother vessels by light vessels, due to the inability of the former to berth in shallow water depth.
“What happened, in simple language, is a rebalancing of the margins allowed and approved for stakeholders. So what the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) did was to take One Naira from lightering expenses and add same to the bridging allowance, that is how we arrived at 7.20 Naira. Therefore, PMS remains at the ceiling of 145 Naira per litre, he said.
“No Risk Of Shortage”
On the availability of product supply, the COO said as at Wednesday, Nigeria has 1.3 billion litres of petrol which translates to an inventory of 36 days.
“What this means is that even if we stop importation or refining of petrol right now, we have enough products in the country to provide for the needs of every Nigerian for a period of 36 days,” he said.
Obih noted that the supply availability was bolstered with the production of petrol from the three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
“There is absolutely no risk of shortage in supply as we also continue to import, to support the production from the refineries. We have informed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to enforce the prevailing 145 Naira per litre price regime, and to also ensure that every service station that has fuel is selling to the public,” he said.
The COO reiterated the readiness of the NNPC management under the leadership of its Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to sustain the existing cordial relationship between the Corporation and the leadership of the downstream industry unions and other stakeholders.
He said the DPR, which is the regulatory arm of the industry, had been alerted to sanction fuel station owners who engage in hoarding, or charge consumers in excess of the approved pump price of petrol.
Dr. Baru had announced the review of the bridging allowance on Monday at a mediation meeting between the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO),
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has condemned reports of imminent fuel scarcity in Nigeria.
The agency asked Nigerians to ignore claims that fuel queues may return to retail outlets over the 660 billion naira debt owed petroleum marketers by the Federal Government.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the PPPRA disclosed that Nigeria has months of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) sufficiency.
Contrary to some speculations on the status of kerosene, the agency noted that the product was fully deregulated and urged Nigerians to avoid any form of panic-buying.
“The attention of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) management has been drawn to the news, stories and speculations in the media of an imminent fuel scarcity over Marketers’ unpaid 660bn naira debt and other sundry issues.
“The stories, under reference, claimed among others that ‘fuel queues may return to retail outlets across the country anytime soon, following the Federal Government’s inability to settle marketers’ 660bn naira debt’ and non-availability of foreign exchange (FOREX) to fund fuel imports.
“PPPRA wishes to state unequivocally, that these stories are gross misrepresentation of available facts at our disposal, hence misleading.
“For the avoidance of doubts, the National Petroleum Products Stock data and import plan currently indicates that the country has two (2) months Premium Motor Spirit (otherwise known as PMS) sufficiency.
Desist From Panic-Buying
“Hence we want to assure motorists and commuters alike, that the products supply situation is robust and able to cater for the fuel needs of all Nigerians, pending when ongoing challenges are addressed.
“As a corollary to the above, PPPRA also wants to inform that contrary to a widely-held belief on the status of HHK (Kerosene), the product is fully deregulated.
“We hereby appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and desist from any form of panic-buying, as we assure of our total commitment to adequate products supply and distribution across the country in line with our mandate.
“We also appeal to all depot owners to adhere strictly to the subsisting truck-out principle in order to ensure that products get to retail outlets across the country in a seamless manner.
“The Agency shall not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions where necessary,” the statement read.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, says the Federal Government will work to maintain the new petroleum products pricing template which pegs the price of petrol between 135 and 145 Naira per litre.
The Minister said that the government is presently unable to consider fixing a new price for petrol without considering some of the market variables that gave rise to the current petroleum pricing template.
He made the remarks in Abuja on the sideline of an event organised by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) as well as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).
“Obviously as you look at foreign exchange differentiation, it will impact and the worst thing you could do is to go back to the era when we unilaterally fix prices.
“What we’ve also been doing is to watch the prices and make sure that they do not take advantage of the common man, making sure the template is maintained,” Kachikwu told the gathering.
In her remarks, the acting Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Sotonye Iyoyo, explained how the new petroleum products pricing template has stabilised products distribution in Nigeria.
“The appropriate pricing framework policy put in place by the Minister for Petroleum Resources in May 11, 2016 has gone a long way in achieving key deregulatory pre-conditions such as full cost recovery, free entrance and free exit of players.
“Global competitive product pricing policy, limited government intervention and control of pricing (as well as) distribution and creation of the enabling environment attracts private sector capital,” she stated.
On his part, PENGASSAN President, Francis Johnson, expressed satisfaction with the new pricing template.
He, however, appealed to the legislature to quickly pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law to address other issues in the sector.
“We want to commend and also advise that the National Assembly should see how they can pass this bill (PIB).
“It’s very important that we have that bill because it’s the legal framework and when we also have the bill passed into law, definitely the issue of pipeline vandalism and so many issues embedded in the industry will also be taken care of so that we can know that yes, the industry is moving forward,” he said.
The Nigerian government says it will not increase the pump price of petrol despite a demand that it should consider the removal of the price cap.
This is coming as a reaction to a request made by the forum of former Group Managing Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Sunday.
They had called for the removal of the price cap of 145 Naira per litre, which was set in May by the Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, insisting that it was not harmonious with the liberalisation policy of the Federal Government.
A statement by the NNPC’S spokesman, Mr Garba Mohammed, said the 145 Naira per litre price cap did not go well together with the liberalisation policy when factors such as the foreign exchange rate, crude cost and Nigerian Ports Authority charges remain uncapped.
The price cap had been set when the dollar exchange rate at the parallel market was less than 300 Naira, with the government saying the decision was to ensure that marketers do not sell petrol at their desired price.
Giving the government’s position on the request for price review, the acting Executive Secretary the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Sotonye Iyoyo, said that the agency would not accept the advice.
Mrs Iyoyo pointed out that the proposal was the personal opinion of the former Group Managing Directors of the NNPC.
“I am not aware that the government is planning any fuel price increase. We are in a liberalised market already,” she insisted.
On his part, the spokesman for the NNPC, Garba Mohammed, also described the advice, saying it was just an “opinion”.
The former Group Managing Directors of the NNPC also expressed concern over the declining production level of crude oil in Nigeria and its consequences on the environment and the nation’s revenue.
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.
The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, has thrown his weight behind the liberalization of the petroleum downstream sector.
In a statement released on Thursday, Mr Yusuf, explained that the deregulation of the sector will reduce importation of petroleum products and ease the pressure on the foreign exchange market as well as foreign reserves.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture have also commended the federal government for finally taking the bold step to remove subsidy on petrol.
The President of the chamber, Bassey Edem, expressed optimism that this will put an end to the fuel scarcity being experienced in the country, while reducing the pressure on foreign reserve as a result of huge demand for petrol import.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has maintained its earlier stance that the recent hike in the pump price of petrol as announced by the federal government is unacceptable.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Mr Peter, Ozo-Ezon was the guest of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday.
He referred to the announcement of a new petrol pump price band of 135 to 145 Naira as the “worst approach that any government has taken” in the history of the country.
“Other governments have attempted to remove subsidy and to say they are deregulating completely but in doing that, no government has said that importers should now invade the black market for foreign exchange and therefore the domestic pump price would now be determined on the basis of black market foreign exchange.
“That is a recipe for economic instability not just in the oil sector but in the whole economy,” he stated.
Mr Ezon feared that in the next few months, the policy would lead to the total collapse of the value of the Naira in the black market, which he says would lead to further increases.
“We think this is undesirable for the economy and we think that the government has not thought this policy through and we are opposed to it.”
Government Needs To Be Truthful
The NLC also said that it did not at any time discuss the increase in fuel price with the Minister of State for Petroleum, prior to the announcement of the new price band on Wednesday.
The Minister had said on the Thursday edition of the programme that all stakeholders had been consulted before the decision was made.
“What happened was that on Tuesday at about 4PM, we received a letter from the office of the Vice President, inviting the President of the NLC to what was termed a consultative meeting.
“No subject matter was indicated and the meeting was scheduled for 12noon on Wednesday.
“Because the President was out on official duty, I went to the congress. The TUC President was also there and the President of NUPENG was also there. Those were the three representatives from Labour.
“There were senators, there were members of the House, there were some governors and on the spot was when we knew what the matter was.
“It was to receive a presentation from the honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and he made a presentation in which he was canvassing for total deregulation, abolition of subsidy and all that.
“At the end of it, there were those who made comments, mainly those from the National Assembly; some cautioning, some advising and some asking other questions.
“The Vice President then specifically called on us one by one by name – the three of us, and what we told the Vice President was that we had just received that presentation and since we represented democratic institutions, we would take the presentation and discuss it at our organs and we will get back to government on our position.
“That was all that happened at the meeting. No decision was taken.
“So when the Minister was quoted to have said that we were part of a meeting that took that decision, then he was clearly not truthful about that and I think government needs to be truthful in putting facts before citizens,” Mr Ozo-Ezon said.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese, says government’s decision is a “welcome development” for them as it is a move they have been yearning for.
Joining the conversation via the telephone, Mr Achese said, “For us as a union, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, it is a welcome development, it is an issue we have been yearning for.
“The sector should be deregulated and opened up for marketers to play the necessary role they need to play and government should be able to focus their attention on making sure that our refineries are rehabilitated and not paying subsidies to few individuals in the name of importation of petroleum products.”
On the insistence of the NLC on resisting the new price regime, Mr Achese said that Labour should be focusing its attention on the issue of minimum wage which is “very key and fundamental”.