The recent increase in the pump price of petrol from N488 to between N568 and N617 per litre has sparked strong reactions from opposition parties and civil society groups in Nigeria. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) have both rejected the hike, accusing the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration of provoking Nigerians with this decision.
The PDP condemned the APC’s extreme insensitivity and callousness towards Nigerians, stating that the new subsidy regime endorsed by the current administration is exacerbating an already dire economic situation. In a statement, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, warned that the price hike could lead to a serious crisis in the country if not addressed. The party criticized the government for neglecting the welfare of its citizens and failing to stabilize and grow the economy.
Similarly, the Labour Party expressed concern that the fuel price increase is just the beginning of the hard times Nigerians will face under the APC-led government. The party had previously warned against the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, asserting that the ruling party had no plans to alleviate the suffering of the people. The LP’s National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, criticized the government for enriching the upper class while subjecting the proletariat to poverty and urged Nigerians to remain hopeful for a better future.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, also weighed in on the matter, insisting that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) lacks the authority to fix petroleum product prices in the country. Falana argued that the recent price increase is illegal and goes against the rule of law. He cited a landmark court judgment that the government must fix the prices of petroleum products sold across Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has decided to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate the incessant increase in fuel prices. The resolution came after Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere moved a motion highlighting the hardship caused by the constant fuel price hikes, leading to rising transportation costs and potential food price increases. Lawmakers rejected an amendment seeking to suspend the new pump price of N617 and revert to the old price of N540, emphasizing the need for the ad-hoc committee’s investigation.
In response to the criticism, an anonymous presidency official reiterated the government’s stance on fuel subsidy removal, dismissing the opposition’s statements and asserting that the government will not respond to every comment made by the PDP and LP.
The situation remains tense as Nigerians brace themselves for the economic impact of the fuel price hike, while opposition parties and civil society groups continue to challenge the government’s decisions on this matter.