Contrary to the Federal Government’s newly recommended N145 for a litre of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), the product is being sold above the official pump price in some filling stations across the country.
The Federal Government had on Wednesday introduced a new pricing regime resulting in about 68 per cent rise in petrol price, which was in January reduced to N86 and N86.50 from N97.
Checks done by Saturday PUNCH revealed that some independent marketers along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway were, as of Friday, selling the product above N145 per litre.
A filling station located at Warewa bus stop along the expressway sold a litre of the commodity for N160.
Not far from it, another fuel station, owned by Amo Oil, dispensed at N150 per litre.
One of the attendants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Saturday PUNCH they bought the product at N145 per litre from the depot and had to add the N5 margin to ensure profitability.
Also, some independent marketers in Akure, Ondo State capital, sold fuel between N150 and N170.
It was gathered that marketers were doing this in order to make more profits.
One of our correspondents, who went round Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, observed that filling stations were selling the product between N150 and N160 per litre.
However, major oil marketers like Mobil, Total, Forte Oil, among others, were not selling.
Also, some independent marketers within the Benin metropolis in Edo State also sold fuel above the official pump price.
For instance, it was learnt that a filling station called DVD Oil on Ted Road, Oredo Local Government Area of the state, sold a litre of petrol for N148 on Friday.
In Bauchi, Bauchi State, fuel had been selling for over N200 per litre even before the recent increment.
In Minna, Niger State, only Gerima and Oando stations were selling at the new official pump price, while other marketers, who sold between N155 and N180, had a few vehicles patronising them.
In Osogbo, Osun State, some filling stations also increased the price to above N145 immediately the announcement was made.
However, they reverted to the new N145 price on Thursday.
In Bayelsa State, the filling stations have adjusted to the new pump price of N145 per litre of petrol.
However, many stations are still engaging in sharp practices by selling the product above the current regulated price.
Checks showed that many filling stations, which had yet to finish selling their old stock, were selling between N160 and N170.
The only noticeable exceptions to this act of short-changing customers are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s mega filling stations and affiliate stations, which were selling at the approved price.
Meanwhile, there were long queues of vehicles at the NNPC filling stations, as observed in Ondo State, because they were selling the product for N145 per litre, while many other private stations were under lock and key as of Friday.
In Ekiti State, many filling stations did not sell the product on Friday. The few ones that did sold it for N150. But a private marketer, Bovas, on Adebayo Road in Ado Ekiti, sold the product for N145.
Also, an NNPC retail outlet on Bank Road sold it for N145.
Forex scarcity may push price up- Marketers
The pump price of PMS, which has been capped at N145 per litre, may be reviewed upward if foreign exchange remains a challenge for importers of the product.
The Federal Government had said the fuel price increase became imperative in the face of extreme difficulties faced by petroleum product importers in sourcing foreign exchange, adding that importers would henceforth be permitted to source for their foreign exchange requirements from secondary sources.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had on Thursday said an exchange rate of N285 to the dollar was used to arrive at the N145.
Major and independent marketers, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH in separate interviews, said the naira-dollar exchange rate and the price of crude oil could increase the landing cost of petrol.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said, “The position is that during this interim period, everybody has agreed to sacrifice because we want the system to take off and work properly. Otherwise, we would have said that instead of N285 or so that was used as the exchange rate, we would have insisted that we should use N320. But then that would have taken it (pump price) too high.
He said, “The only thing in the template that affects the price significantly is the exchange rate. But we have agreed that if all of us go to the same market, we would have a different form of supply and demand. We want to go to the same market and tell the people who have it that, ‘This is how much we want to buy it.’”
Olawore said an increase in the price of crude oil would not have any significant impact on the petrol if forex is not too high.
“The main problem is foreign exchange. We should all work towards making the foreign exchange available at an affordable rate.
“At 285 or so, no marketer has any genuine reason to go beyond N145. However, in reality, the exchange rate is more than that. We are saying that government is going to play their own role. The reason why there is a cap is that, even in a deregulated market, there must be a regulatory framework so that people don’t misbehave.”
The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said, “The crux of everything we are saying borders on foreign exchange. Sourcing for the foreign exchange is the key challenge. Marketers have been told to source for foreign exchange.”
He said, “If marketer A is able to source foreign exchange at a very cheap rate, his landing cost will be very low. And if marketer B is unfortunately unable to get a cheaper rate, his landing cost will be high.
He said based on current parameters, the price band was put at between N135 and N145, adding, “If parameters later create the room to review the price, it will be reviewed. And it could be reviewed downward or upward.”
The National Operation Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said if crude oil prices increased beyond $50 per barrel, the cost of importing petrol would also go up.
“As of today, the price band of N135 to N145 is okay. But let us see how it goes, if we can’t get it within that band. The PPPRA is there and they also know what is happening in the market, about the price of crude and scarcity of forex. Let us start from somewhere. This is the beginning. By the time we look at it after one, two, three months, the government can review it.”
He said for complete deregulation, there shouldn’t be a cap.
“But at least, let us start from somewhere. Maybe in another six months when the government sees that there is no need for them to put a cap, they may remove it.”
Stakeholders demand full deregulation
Meanwhile, some stakeholders, including the Chairman of the Filling Station Owners Association, Ondo State, Mr. Jimi Adedapo, have canvassed a total deregulation of the oil sector.
Adepoju, however, said the fixing of the price was wrong, noting that with the announcement, depots had also increased the price as of Thursday, a factor which could not make them sell for N145.
He said, “It was wrong for the Federal Government to deregulate and at the same time fix the price. The government ought to hands off completely and concentrate on the monitoring of the quality.
“The government should have allowed the market forces of demand and supply to dictate the price. Look at diesel, prices are between N120 and N125, which are being dictated by market forces since the government has removed its hands of the process. If the government had allowed total deregulation, fuel could be sold for as low as N80 per litre.”
The Chairman and Managing Director, Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Mr. Tunji Oyebanji, described full deregulation as the best thing to do, adding that the market forces should be allowed to determine the price of petrol.
The Head of Energy Research, Ecobank Capital, Mr. Dolapo, who noted that the government would be taking a good step forward by removing subsidy, said, “Full deregulation would have meant going beyond relaxing the import restrictions to allowing anyone to also sell at any price they deem fit.”
Transport fare rises, Nigerians groan
Commercial motorists across the country have increased transport fare by 100 per cent, as traders and passengers claimed that the increase in the pump price of petrol had compounded their already worse situation.
The least fare for intra-city transportation, which was N50 before, has now risen to between N80 and N100, depending on the distance.
The story is the same for those travelling from one state to the other. For instance, people who travel from Uyo to Eket in Akwa Ibom State now pay N700 as transport fare as against N350 before the increase.
According to most passengers and traders in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the increase in the pump price of petrol represents the worse period in the country.
It was lamentation on Friday in Kwara and Osun states as passengers groaned.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, transport fare increased by 100 per cent in some places and about 70 per cent in other areas.
The least fare charged by commercial mini bus owners was N30 before, but this has risen to N50.
The increment forced many passengers to resort to trekking long distance as some of them condemned the increment.
Disheartening and wickedness were few of the words commuters in Oyo and Bauchi states used on Friday to describe the hardship they said the increment inflicted on them.
Our correspondents in the two states saw the commuters as they were lamenting their disappointment over the new petrol price.
A commuter in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Mrs. Happiness Okon, said, “The increase in pump price of petrol should have been the last thing the Federal Government would have contemplated.”
A resident of Bauchi, Mr. Benjamin Idakwo, who said the hike was disheartening, asked the supporters of the petrol price to justify why they opposed the same decision when former President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to remove the fuel subsidy.
“Nigerians voted massively for Buhari and he should have looked for a way of alleviating their suffering not to increase it,” he said.
While expressing his concern on the effect of the rise in the pump price of petrol, a public servant in Bauchi State, Nuhu Ibrahim, said, “I used to pay N80 as transport fare from Rafin Zurfi to Wunti before, but I now pay N120 and when you complain, the motorists will tell you that the price of petrol has gone up.”
A commercial motorist, who simply identified himself as Yakubu, expressed the hope that the Federal Government would listen to the cry of the people and reverse the decision in the interest of the poor masses.
Yakubu said though motorists had been buying petrol between N100 and N130 before the latest price hike; the increase would affect their business negatively, as many commuters would now resort to trekking to their destinations.
The harsh effects of the increment were also felt by residents of Ogun State, as transport fares in every route had gone up.
Transport fare from Sango Ota to Abeokuta, the state capital, which was between N250 and N300, has now risen to between N400 and N500.
Also, a trip from Abeokuta to Ijebu-Ode, which hitherto cost N500, had been increased to N600. On inter-state routes, transport fare from Abeokuta to Abuja has been increased from N6, 000 to N7, 000. Transport fare from Abeokuta to Ibadan, which hitherto cost N900, has been increased to N1, 000.
One of our correspondents, however, noticed that some filling stations at Ota were selling a litre of petrol for between N160 and N170.
Buhari, APC come under heavy knocks
In an interactive session with journalists in his office in Minna, Niger State, the newly elected Chairman of the state Peoples Democratic Party, Tanko Beji, said the economic situation in the country might get worse if drastic measures were not taken to correct it.
Beji, who described the situation as the worst experience in the country’s history so far, expressed surprise that Nigerians had not stormed the streets in protest as they did in 2012, when the government took a similar decision.
The State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Idris Ndako, told Saturday PUNCH in a telephone interview that the increment in the price of petrol would triple the suffering of the people.
He said, “The government knows that there is nothing on the ground; people are suffering and with this increment, the government has tripled the suffering of the people.”
The National Association of Nigerian Students has also condemned the hike in the price of fuel.
Its deputy coordinator in the South-West, Mr. Saheed Afolabi, in a statement made available to our correspondent in Osogbo, called for the immediate reversal of the new fuel pricing regime, saying Nigerian students would not allow it to stand.
He said, “We are prepared to embark on the mother of all protests in the history of Nigeria. Nigerians did it in 2012 and we are ready to shut down the whole nation.”
Also, the immediate past National Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Advance Party, Mr. Tosin Odeyemi, condemned the hike, describing it as a way to further impoverish Nigerians.
Odeyemi said the increase in fuel price would lead to another round of hike in prices of foodstuff and other items needed on daily basis by the people.
He said, “It is a wicked policy and it will aggravate the suffering of the majority of the people.”
A businessman, Mohammed Kuta, also described the removal of fuel subsidy as an act of “wickedness” by the Federal Government.
Also reacting to the issue, a civil servant, Isah Yusuf, called for a peaceful protest by the public to force Buhari to “reverse the policy”.
Meanwhile, a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, headed by a member of the House of Representatives representing Remo Federal Constituency, Oladipupo Adebutu, has also condemned the Federal Government’s action.
In a statement signed by its state publicity secretary, Malik Ibitoye, the PDP faction described the increment as “arbitrary, anti-people, anti-democratic and retrogressive”, which must be condemned by Nigerians.