24 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly rejected what has been described as subtle moves by marketers to increase fuel price, even as the government accuses the marketers of sabotage.
The administration has come under intense criticism from several quarters over its handling of the fuel crises roiling major cities across the country, despite the best efforts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other agencies to stabilize the situation and ensure adequate supply of products.
According to unknown sources quoted in a local media, President Buhari has put his feet firmly down against demands by oil marketers and their agents for fuel price increment, including the re-introduction of fuel subsidy.
“The key issue is a price war. The marketers have made representation to the Federal Government and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, to allow price hike of petroleum products and leave the sector to market forces,” the report noted.
It added that, “The President and Senior Government Officials are, however, opposed to price hike because of its spiral effect on the socio-economic life of the nation. It also has grave political implications for the survival of the present government.
“In the last few months, the government has been trying to cope through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) until there was stress in the supply chain following threats by PENGASSAN and the challenge in Lagos.”
The unnamed Presidency source noted that, “Before the crisis, the nation used to consume between 30 million to 35 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) daily but since this current challenge started, the consumption has shot up to 80 million litres per day.
“Without a soothsayer, it is obvious that something had gone wrong. We cannot just rule out sabotage including diversion of products.”
Meanwhile, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has accused the oil marketers in Nigeria of trying to force an increase in the pump price of petrol by hoarding the product to worsen the fuel scarcity crisis in the country.
The National President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson listed the bodies involved to include Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
Johnson said, “And let me say it here that the oil marketers are complaining, they have been looking for ways to increase fuel price. But the labour unions, Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and PENGASSAN are the ones who still fight and say to the marketers that they can’t do that. All of the marketers, IPMAN, DAPPMA, MOMAN, etc, have been agitating for petrol price increase.
“They give you so many reasons, they say the dollar is not accessible, they say this, they say that, but we tell them ‘ no’, you can’t do that. And so subtle hoarding begins to take place, they start looking for ways to force the government to increase the price. That is the game.”
He added, “Like I told you earlier, left to the marketers, PMS will be selling at N500 per litre because they are there to make profits.
“They say they don’t have access to crude oil, they lack access to dollars and that it is only the NNPC that is importing. We said go and import, but they said if they must do that, fuel should be increased to N170 per litre.”