In response to the recent N617 petrol price increase, Prince Adewole Ebenezer Adebayo, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential flag bearer in the February 2023 general elections, has expressed concern over the impact on Nigerians and warned of potential future increases. He points out that fuel prices are mainly influenced by market forces, and questions how the government, which has lost control over its currency, can control petrol prices regulated by the US dollar.
In an interview, Adebayo criticized the removal of fuel subsidies, stating that some critics, including himself, have valid grounds for opposition, while others who previously supported subsidy removal from the start are hypocritical. He likened supporting such a policy and then being surprised by its consequences to throwing a child from a building and being surprised they got injured.
Regarding the government’s approach to addressing the issue, Adebayo emphasized the need for appropriate policies and cautioned against relying solely on palliatives, citing concerns about their effectiveness and potential inflationary effects. He proposed an alternative strategy, urging the government to delink the public from the impact of fuel price fluctuations through investments in efficient public transportation systems, similar to those implemented in other cities worldwide.
Responding to the possibility of further dislocation in fuel prices due to crude price fluctuations and currency depreciation, Adebayo attributed the situation to political choices and advocated for a reevaluation of the government’s approach to fuel pricing.
During the interview, Adebayo also identified several government programs that he believes are wasteful, urging the need to cut costs and redirect resources to more productive sectors, such as refining locally produced petroleum.
Regarding electricity tariffs, Adebayo criticized the proposed 40% increase, likening it to adding pain to an existing problem. He argued that the increase would lead to a chain reaction of price adjustments throughout the value chain, exacerbating the burden on consumers and businesses.
Addressing the suggestion of compressed gas as an alternative energy source, Adebayo emphasized that such decisions should be made by individual firms, while the government’s focus should be on fostering energy production and reducing overall costs for businesses and consumers.
In conclusion, Adebayo called for a reevaluation of current policies, better management of resources, and the adoption of alternative approaches to tackle the fuel price issue, emphasizing the importance of sound economic decision-making to safeguard the well-being of Nigerians.