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.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Thursday said it has intensified its surveillance in Niger State, northern Nigeria.
In spite of the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as petrol by the Federal Government, the DPR has ensured that marketers adhered strictly with the new pump price of 145 Naira per litre in the state.
The Controller of DPR in Niger State, Engineer Abdullahi Jankara, disclosed this to reporters after a surveillance inspection tour in Minna, the state’s capital.
He said the agency would not relent in its efforts to ensure that the marketers obey the order, in times of price and standard distribution of the product to the public.
“We have seen normal situation since the increase in the price of PMS, especially in Minna due to the availability of the product,” he said.
Jankara assured that cheating in times of delivery would not be accepted just as the DPR would watch out for sharp practices by the petroleum marketers, who he said were fond of perpetuating such illegal acts in the state.
“Although it is not yet over because of the feelers we are getting from the hinterland on the exact situation, on a general note we have 80% compliance as things will be in total control,” he added.
The DPR boss vowed to continually beef up surveillance team into the hinterland to replicate what is happening in the townships.
He said that many filling stations have complied with with the new price while erring stations have been compelled to revert to the official price.
Talks between the Federal Government and labour unions as part of efforts to avert the planned strike by Nigeria Labour Congress to resist an increase in the price of petrol are continuing on Tuesday.
The meeting was rescheduled after both parties could not reach an agreement in an earlier meeting on Monday.
According to Channels TV correspondent, the dialogue, which held in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), had in attendance the SGF, representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), PENGASSAN, as well as the Governor of Edo State.
The SGF is leading a delegation of ministers and other representatives of the federal government in the meeting with the union leaders.
While appealing to the workers’ union leaders to put the nation’s interest ahead of theirs as they went into the meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, said that the decision to deregulate the petroleum was the only option for the government to tackle the nation’s financial predicament.
However, the President of the NLC said that the meeting would present them the opportunity to table issues in the minds of the workers to the government.
Organised labour has set Wednesday, May 18 to go on an indefinite strike if the federal government fails to meet its demand of reverting the pump price of petrol to 86.50 kobo per litre.
On Sunday, the National Vice President of the NLC, Mr Amechi Asugwuni, warned that Nigerian workers would down tools if the government failed to revert to the old price.
Before the increase in the price of petrol on May 11, the union had earlier proposed a new minimum wage of 56,000 Naira, insisting that the increment was long overdue.
PENGASSAN, NUPENG, the Pilots and Engineers unions had supported the decision of the government to increase petrol pump price, something that many have seen as an obstacle in the way of the Nigeria Labour Congress’ resistance to the increase.
Nigerians are expressing divergent views about the increase in the price of petrol to 145 Naira.
This is ahead of the proposed strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) scheduled for Wednesday, barring any last minute back down by the federal government on the new pump price.
While some are in support of the move by the Federal Government, some are totally against it and are ready to join the proposed industrial action by the NLC.
This is certainly one burning issue that has pitched Nigeria across divides.
Members of the Imo State chapter of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) have taken to the streets in a peaceful manner to register their displeasure over the new price regime for petrol.
They argued that on the heels of campaign promises by the ruling party, current pump price is at contrast to what voters were told.
However, in Anambra State, some petroleum marketers say the idea behind subsidy payments by the federal government has since been defeated.
They argued that 40% of subsidised petrol end up in neighbouring countries where it is sold at a premium.
They also disagree with Labour over its planned strike.
Meanwhile, residents in Calabar, the Cross River State capital say they are set to join in the strike.
The grouse is that since the price adjustment upward, every aspect of their economy has been adversely affected. They consider NLC’s as the voice of the voiceless.
In the south west region, petrol is still sold above the recommended 145 per litre in Ogun State. Outrage has also trailed the corresponding hike in price of other commodity following the rise in cost of petrol per litre.
Kaduna resident are also divided on the issue. However, the queues are reducing and the people seem to be adjusting to the realities of the downstream oil sector.
Most people have expressed hope that the NLC and government would find a common ground of compromise that would benefit the masses.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has told members of the House of Representatives that the Federal Government had no other option than to increase the price of fuel.
He said that this was because of the diminished foreign exchange supply situation in Nigeria, which forced marketers to stop importation and imposed over 90 per cent supply on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) since October 2015.
‘No Provision For Subsidy’
Other factors which the Minister said necessitated the price hike, were significant decline in government’s foreign exchange revenues and renewed sabotage and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.
Dr. Kachikwu, who attended a special session held by the lawmakers to quiz the Minister over the hike in price of petrol, told them that there was no provision for subsidy in the 2016 Appropriation Act and as at Monday, the fuel price of 86.50 gave an estimate subsidy claim of 13.7 Naira per litre, which translates to 16.4 billion Naira monthly.
He restated that they were left with no option than to liberalise the market.
Kachikwu explained that the new price band had gone into effect and that the market had stabilised in terms of product availability.
The NNPC would no longer resort to federation barrels and would endeavour to meet its obligation to pay FAAC 100 percent of its entitlement from the 445,000 barrels per day in the coming months.
The House of Representatives in Nigeria on Monday began a special session to deliberate on the Federal Government’s announcement of an increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, also referred to as Petrol.
However, plenary degenerated into a rowdy session, as lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) refused to allow the Minister of State For Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to be admitted into the chamber.
The Minister was invited to brief lawmakers on the situation in the petroleum sector.
But the PDP lawmakers waved the National flag, singing protest songs and were hell bent on not allowing the Minister entry into the Representatives’ chamber.
Dr. Kachikwu on May 11 announced a new price band of 145 Naira per litre of petrol, linking the hike to the difficulty in getting foreign exchange and the inability of the nation’s refineries to produce at optimum capacity to cushion scarcity that has lasted for over five months.
He said that the deregulation of the sector would promote competition which he believes will force the price down within the next six months.
But critics said the increase from from 86.50 Naira to 145 Naira would cause further hardship.
Labour union is also insisting that the government should revert the increase or face industrial action.
The lawmakers, who were on recess had convened a special session to question the Minister on the decision of the government to hike price at a period the nation was facing its worse petrol scarcity crisis.
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”.
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.