By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
Wednesday’s increase in the price of fuel in Nigeria has sharply divided the population, The Difference checks have revealed.
Nigerians from all walks of life are expectedly debating the new policy, with the debate on social media being the fiercest.
In the latest round of fuel price increases in the country, the Ministry of Petroleum announced that PMS would now be sold for N145 per litre.
This has since led to spirited debate of the situation with many fearing it would lead to a renewed surge in the nation’s already escalated inflation index.
In its own reaction, organised labour says the increase is unacceptable and would be resisted.
‘The unilateral increase in prices of petroleum products today by government represents the height of insensitivity and impunity and shall be resisted by the Nigeria Labour Congress and its civil society allies.
With the imposition on the citizenry of criminal and unjustifiable electricity tariff and resultant darkness and other economic challenges brought on by the devaluation of the Naira and spiraling inflation, the least one had expected at this point in time was another policy measure that would further make life more miserable for the ordinary Nigerian
The latest increase is the most audacious and cruel in the history of product price increase as It represents not only about 80 per cent increase but it is tied to the black market exchange rate.
Further more, the process through which government arrived at this is both illogical and illegal as the board of the PPPRA is not duly constituted. In our previous statements and communiques, we had stressed the need for reconstituting the boards of NNPC and PPPRA and wean both away from the overbearing influence of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources who has assumed the role of a Sole Administrator.
The allusion to the fact that the this increase was arrived at after due consultation with stake holders is not only ridiculous and fallacious, it goes to show that the brief meeting held today during which government was advised shelve the idea until at least it meets with the appropriate organs of the Congress was in bad faith.
Accordingly, we urge the government to revert the prices to what they were. We would want to put everybody on notice that we shall resist this criminal increase with every means legitimate.
Already an emergency NEC meeting has been scheduled for Friday, May 13, 2016 to decide on the next line of action. Meanwhile, our affiliates, state councils and civil society allies are requested to commence mobilization immediately.’
Also being queried by commentators is the process at which the purported subsidy rate was arrived at. This is particularly being set against the backdrop of reported comments last week by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu who had told the nation that they pay N12.86 subsidy for every litre of PMS that is bought at N86.50k.
‘Today they removed that subsidy (#12.86) and yet is asking me to pay #145. Does the maths add up? If you remove this so called #12.86 and add #86.50. Its just #99.30k,’ one commentator remarked.
There is also concern over whether the Federal Government would even be able to succeed in its quest of ensuring a uniform price countrywide. Argues the commentator, Tope Fasua:
‘By every means, the government should exit this business of ‘subsidy’ because it has enabled criminals to feed fat on the blood, sweat and tears of hapless Nigerians. I had advised that government removed its hands entirely when crude oil dropped to $28/barrel. That was the perfect time. But the next best time, is now. However, trust Nigerians, if government says ‘not more than N145, hardly will anyone sell below that upper limit. My observation of the type of economic system we have been running for the past decade is one which enables super-rich people to take advantage of the poor. It is scorched-earth capitalism.’