By Oji Odu
First, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) came up with a gimmick, following the postponement of the 2019 elections to reduce fuel pump price so as to help ease movement of voters to their polling stations. Today, the association is threatening hell and brimstone that they will unilaterally increase petroleum pump price to over the official N145 per litre if the depot owners keep selling to them at a hiked price of N135.50 instead of the N133.28
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on its part has not lived up to expectation because of the half truths they had disseminated to the Nigerians on the true position of the fuel situation.
Who should Nigerians believe? Should they believe the NNPC which alone does not have the capacity to manage effectively the nation’s oil sector, to make the needed fuel reach the consumers without stress, the regulator that raises the hopes of Nigerians only to dash it, or IPMAN which claims that government and depot owners are not making it easy for them in the sector, and cowing them to selling at huge loss?
Are Nigerians not tired of their yearly bickering over petroleum pump price? Is it not time for the authorities to start doing the right thing they know and fix the sector, instead of singing the tunes of their alleged cabal masters of enslaving Nigerians?
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had last Saturday, warned petroleum products depot owners or terminal operators against selling Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol above the official ex-depot price of N133.28k per litre.
Reports had it that petroleum products marketers were asked to pay a new ex-depot price of N135.50 per litre, about N2.22 above the prevailing approved price of N133.28. This followed speculations last week that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC in charge of marketing and distribution of petroleum products had quietly sneaked in N1.67 per cent increase on ex-depot price.
However, both the General Manager, PPMC, Billy Okoye, and the NNPC Spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, had confirmed in separate enquiries that no such hike was either contemplated or in force. Also, both the Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), Olufemi Adewole, and his Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), counterpart, Clement Isong, denied knowledge of any such price hike.
The NNPC cautioned petroleum products marketers against any attempt to sell petrol above N145 per litre pump price which they said will unnecessarily disrupt the fuel distribution network in the country, and no one other than the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) is saddled with the responsibility of fixing petroleum pump prices.
In his statement, NNPC spokesperson, Ughamadu reminded the marketers that the subsisting ex-depot petrol price of N133.28k per litre. He said the price was consistent with the prevailing PPPRA fuel pricing template and should be adhered to strictly.
He reassured Nigerians that contrary to speculations that the NNPC was running short of stock of petroleum products in its depots, the corporation has a cumulative stock of over one billion litres in different depots across the country, as imports of 48 vessels of fuel, consisting 50million litres each, have also been committed for April alone.
“Nigerians should remain vigilant and volunteer information to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Industry regulator or any law enforcement agency around them, on any station selling petrol beyond N145 per litre official price,” the NNPC spokesperson said.
However confirming the issue, one of the leaders of IPMAN, and owner of Ore Depot, Shina Amoo, warned that independent marketers mayt soon be forced to start selling beyond ₦145 per litre if depot owners continued to sell between ₦136.50 and ₦137 per litre.
According to him: “Private depot owners have increased the ex-depot price of PMS beyond ₦133.28 per litre. We bought a litre of PMS between ₦136.50 and ₦137 per litre from private depot owners last weekend. This can affect the pump price at which independent marketers will sell the product, and it will certainly be beyond the ₦145, which is the official pump price.
“We, independent marketers, are law-abiding. We don’t want to sell above the official pump price, and that is why we are urging the government to do something about it and make the product abundantly available. They should monitor private depot owners to make sure they don’t sell above the official ex-depot price of ₦133.28.”
“The NNPC is the sole importer and nobody has the right to increase the price. But if they continue to sell to us above the official ex-depot price, we will have no option than to increase the pump price above ₦145 per litre. The increase in price by private depot owners will eventually push the burden on the marketers and final consumers.”
For Christian Amao, an energy expert, Nigeria is far greater than this recurrent mess of NNPC and petroleum marketers distracting Nigerians and its leadership with fuel pricing, scarcity et cetera.
“ Government is to blame for drawing the nation back in its developmental plans. How can we still be talking about this issue at this time if some people are not using it to rip the country off? Why should this not continue to be our problem when our leadership has refused to allow the local refineries to work?
“ Why should these refineries and the many private refineries that have been licenced to start operations work when every year billions of dollars is approved for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries, with no results? Enough of the deceit. Both the NNPC and petroleum marketers are partners in crime aimed at impoverishing the country. It’s time we give them the type of treatment Algerians gave their ailing President who wanted to remain in office ineffectively,” he said.
Yemi Kehinde, a businesswoman, in a chat with the Magazine, swore that it will not be well with anybody or group that will cause hike in fuel price in the country at this period. “ This will be the most wicked thing that will happen to Nigerians at this time when suffering is too much.
“ If the price is increased, everything will also increase, especially bad ones. A lot of people will surely die no matter how they say Nigerians know how to adapt to situations. How do you explain the rising cases of suicide, even rape, armed robbery and so on? Those thinking about this should not try it because they may end up touching the tiger’s tail,” she said.