Bimbola Oyesola, Uche Usim, Adewale Sanyaolu and Chukwudi Nweje
Fuel queues returned to major parts of Lagos metropolis and the Federal Capital Territory yesterday, following announcement of an increase in the ex-depot price of petrol.
Majority of the filling station visited by Daily Sun yesterday had long vehicular queues as consumers engaging in panic buying in a bid to beat the new fuel price while other stations hoarded the commodity in an effort to make some extra profit from their old stock.
The Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had in a memo to all depots and marketers on Wednesday announced an increment of N5.32 per litre in the Ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) popularly called petrol.
Prior to this latest increase, depot owners sold the product for between N133.30 and N133.50 per litre.
The hike in ex-depot price may have pushed a litre of petrol to N150 or more after marketers’ margin of N6 per litre and transporters margin are added to the new ex-depot price of N138.62, with fuel landing at N150 per litre or more at filling stations
Ex-depot price is the price that the product is sold at the depot to marketers which determines the final price at filling stations.
The memo dated August 4 and signed by Mohammed S. Bello on behalf of the PPMC indicated that from Wednesday, August 5, Premium Motor Spirit, from ex-coastal transfer point would be sold for N113.70, while ex-depot will be N138.62 per litre.
The ex-depot price as at July price band released by the PPPRA, an agency of government that fix price of petroleum products prices, was N133.30 per litre.
While PPPRA is yet to release August price advisory as it did monthly since April, the PPMC sent a memo advising marketers on coastal price and ex-depot price for the product.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, petrol was being sold at N143.80 per litre at major and independent marketers retail stations while NNPC filling stations sell at N141.3o but the recent increase in ex-depot price will definitely affect the new price.
But the development appears not to have gone down well with consumers who described the latest hike as a move by the Buahri government to further impoverish Nigerians.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to Daily in confidence said the Federal Government was toying with the intelligence of Nigerians.
Already, the Kano branch of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), yesterday directed its members to sell petrol at N150 per litre. The IPMAN chairman, Bashir Dan-Malam, gave the directive in a statement to newsmen in Kano.
Dan-Malam said the directive followed the new price modulation announced by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and has accordingly instructed its members to comply by selling the product at N150 per litre.
But following the development, some stakeholders have lamented that rather than the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announcing the latest hike, it has decided to transfer such powers to the PPMC which by regulation was not authorised to announce changes in petroleum product prices.
They argued that the development portends grave danger because consumers are now at the mercy of marketers who can fix whatever price they like since there is no band given them.
‘‘This latest announcement by PPMC will create confusion because there is no band unlike last month when PPPRA announced a band of N141.80k to N143.80 respectively, they argued .
Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, had in a recent interview with Daily Sun lamented that the N6 per litre margin on petrol fixed by the Federal Government represented by the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in 2016 was no longer sustainable under current economic realities, stressing the lean margins have squeezed dealers and prevented them from investing in safety equipment and maintenace currently a challenge to the industry.
He said the industry believes the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) presents an opportunity for necessary reforms and changes to take place in the downstream industry.
He said Nigeria was gradually heading towards full deregulation of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which will enable pump price to be determined by market forces.
He said: “So what the PPMC has done is to look at the average cost of fuel for the last 30 days and arrive at a workable figure that will protect the interest of marketers and end users.
“Some marketers may decide to add N14 or N15 which will put the pump price between N150 and N151 per litre. That is our assumption and understanding because nobody has said so expressly.
Meanwhle the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) yesterday condemned the planned hike in the prices of petroleum products.
Both groups said the government is being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians who are still under the poverty and hardship foisted on the citizenry by the coronavirus pandemic.
They described the action of the government as a failure of the Nigerian State to provide adequate social support and access to mass testing in the face of threats to survival by the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement signed by Dr. Oladipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu, JAF Chairperson and Secretary respectively, JAF called on Nigerians and the organised Labour to resist the proposal which it described as International Monetary Fund (IMF) inspired hike in fuel prices. “JAF has consistently maintained that the current unjust system of neoliberal order is incapable of addressing the quest of Nigerians for free education, free healthcare, jobs for all and security of life and properties, hence our call for a sustained struggle for system change that would ensure a socio- economic arrangement that can guarantee provision of basic necessities to all. JAF calls on organised Labour to provide leadership for resistance against the IMF inspired hike in fuel prices and urges Nigerians to prepare for consistent resistance against attacks on jobs, education, healthcare, high cost of living and the urgent necessity to mobilise towards a new political alternative.
Action of government exposes thoughtfulness and insincerity of the administration Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, “Talking about `increasing the prices of petroleum products shows the thoughtlessness of our government.
When this government came, they said they have deregulated the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.