Nigerians Frustrated as Petrol Prices Soar, Government Faces Backlash

Outrage and despair gripped Nigerians yesterday as they woke up to yet another significant surge in the price of petrol, known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

From Lagos, Ogun, and Edo in the South West and South-South to Niger, Borno, and Zamfara in the north, motorists and commuters shared tales of misery.

Petrol stations owned by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company, Limited (NNPL) in Lagos saw prices rise from N488 per litre to N568, while in Abuja and some northern states, it reached as high as N617 per litre, up from N540.

Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPL, attributed the increase to market forces, while the Borno State chapter of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) expressed concern about the latest increment, emphasizing the need for government palliatives to alleviate the effects of subsidy removal.

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The Nigeria Employers Consultation Association (NECA) stressed that local refining of crude oil was the only viable solution for Nigeria, while the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) argued that the higher petrol prices would further impoverish the people.

Investigations by Vanguard revealed that each operator is authorized to adjust prices based on their cost elements under the current deregulation policy. The devaluation of the naira has placed pressure on fuel importers, including NNPC Limited and major independent marketers.

Mike Osatuyi, the National Operations Controller of IPMAN, highlighted that the low value of the naira, currently over N800 to a dollar, was significantly impacting the market. He explained that importers sourced their foreign exchange from banks at the prevailing rate, making it difficult to import the product at a lower cost.

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As petrol prices soared, students and commuters in Lagos expressed frustration over the subsequent increase in transportation fares. A Lagos State University student lamented the burden of paying N400 for transportation to and from the campus, while tricycle taxi drivers reported difficulties due to the fuel price hike.

Commuters also faced challenges as transportation costs exceeded their budgets, with some choosing to return home early in the morning.

In Ondo State, long queues reappeared at petrol stations in Akure and other towns, prompting several stations to shut their gates to motorists. Filling stations sold the product for between N650 and N700 per litre, prompting motorists to voice their worries about the government’s unending infliction of hardships on the people.

The situation was similar in Niger State, where commuters resorted to trekking to their destinations as many petrol stations shut their gates. Public transportation costs, such as Okada and Keke NAPEP (Marwa), increased beyond the affordability of the average commuter.

Mele Kyari, the CEO of NNPC Limited, attributed the price increase to market forces and assured the public of a stable supply. Farouk Ahmed, the CEO of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, explained that rising crude oil prices and ancillary costs incurred during distribution were driving the pump price increase.

IPMAN chairman in Borno State, Mohammed Kuluwu, expressed concern over the latest price increase, criticizing the government for failing to provide necessary palliatives before removing the fuel subsidy. The NLC rejected the new pump price, describing it as provocative and designed to worsen poverty and hardship among Nigerians.

NECA called on the government to focus on local refining to address the increasing costs of imported refined petroleum products. They urged the government to review the status of national refineries and establish privatization modalities. NECA also expressed concerns about the proposed palliative loan, citing corruption and mismanagement issues with previous palliative programs.

The Nigerian public continues to face the brunt of rising petrol prices, grappling with the economic implications and questioning the government’s measures to alleviate the hardships faced by the population.

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