President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly shut down a move by oil marketers to get the pump price of fuel increased.
The president is also reported to have said there would be no re-institution of fuel subsidy.
This comes amidst an acute fuel scarcity that has, in the last week, caused traffic congestion, seen the springing up of black marketers and a sharp hike in the cost of transportation, in most of the major cities of the country.
The hardships trailing the scarcity and the attendant outcry by citizens is said to have been exploited by marketers to ask the president increase fuel price as they argued that selling at N145 per litre was no longer tenable.
According to The Nation, the demands of the marketers included price increase, total deregulation of petroleum products and payment of outstanding subsidy. The federal government’s counter-offer are: creation of special window for foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), presentation of request for payment of outstanding subsidy to the National Assembly, creating opportunity for the establishment of modular refineries and no return to era of fuel subsidy.
Sources claimed that the government was putting in place mechanisms to stave off the recurrence of the perennial issue.
The scarcity and search for fuel, by all means, have caused people spending an average of 8 hours in petrol stations nationwide.
Many commuters have taken to walking to their destinations as they are unable to afford the high transportation fares.
Government officials and other stakeholders have opined that the scarcity is artificial. They claim hoarding by marketers, disruption of the supply chain, and sabotage, in a bid to get their demands met, are the underlying causes of the scarcity.
“The key issue is price war. The marketers have made representation to the federal government and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, to allow price hike of petroleum products and leave the sector to market forces.
“The President and senior government officials are, however, opposed to price hike, because of its spiral effects 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 of a nation-wide strike by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the challenge in Lagos,” a source said.
A government source said: “To mitigate the issues raised by the marketers, this administration has some put some measures in place. For instance, the government has created a special foreign exchange window for the marketers to enable them to import products.
“Instead of using the forex, some of them diverted it to other use. In order not to hold the nation to ransom by the marketers, the NNPC, in the last one-and-a-half years, has been importing 99.9% of products. This sole importation has also drained the resources of NNPC, but it has to make sacrifice to ensure the availability of products.”