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More knocks for FG over petrol price increase

Condemnation has continued to trail the recent petrol price increase from N540 to N617 per litre. President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, yesterday said that…

Condemnation has continued to trail the recent petrol price increase from N540 to N617 per litre.

President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, yesterday said that Nigerians were being deceived on the issue of petrol pricing.

Ajaero, who spoke on Channels TV programme: Politics Today, said the masses were being punished unnecessarily.

 “If the government withdrew subsidies of petroleum products and suddenly, while we are about to start committee meetings, there is another price increase, why then will the government seek a court injunction and use other measures if it is not their business?

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“It seems we have entered a reign where Nigerians are being punished unnecessarily and where lies are coming up everywhere.

“If you have a single market where everybody must change dollars at N800/$1, you removed the market where people were changing dollars at N450 to import, it means the very moment that dollar value increases to even N900/N1000, you will tell us that you imported it at current value.

“Despite the fact that the products you have now are not the ones that were imported under N800/$. Clearly, the government is toying with Nigerians. What is happening is not economics, but a reign of impunity,” he said.

The Peoples Democratic Party described the latest increase in petrol price as provocative and an invitation to crisis across the country. 

Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP in a statement, said the current price regime was an exhibition of “extreme insensitivity and callousness towards Nigerians”, alleging that the government wanted to extort the people who were already suffering. 

“The present dire situation comes as a consequence of APC’s insensitivity, seething corruption, scandalous cluelessness and lack of capacity to effectively steady and manage the nation’s economy.

“Our party insists that the N617 per litre of fuel is excessive, unacceptable and cannot be justified under any guise. This is especially given the economic potentials and prospects within our country.” 

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) kicked against the recent review of fuel pump prices.

Its Executive Director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, in a statement yesterday, said the government must show real concern and take urgent actions to cushion the effect of its decision “which is perpetuating poverty and inequality.

“This is widening the country’s already-existing income inequality with low-income citizens and vulnerable segments of society facing greater financial strain to meet their basic food needs. 

“The government should not take for granted, the patience of poor Nigerians who reluctantly bear the dire consequences of the over 300% fuel price increase due to the subsidy removal, as part of the sacrifice awaiting when government would have settled to come up with ameliorative measures for the citizens.”

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) said incessant hikes in petrol price was a pointer that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has never been sincere with Nigerians on the subsidy issue.

It backed the House of Representatives’ move “to investigate the overnight destruction of vessel with stolen Nigerian crude oil recently without investigation or prosecution of the culprits.”

Deputy National Publicity Secretary, CNPP, James Ezema, in a statement, said the oil industry “is permeated with a lot of corrupt practices that require open investigations if there must be an end to the suffering of Nigerians as a result of petroleum resources freely given to the country by God.

“For many years, the free gift of nature has been a source of pain and suffering for the citizens that many have been asking whether crude oil deposits in Nigeria are meant to worsen the living conditions of the masses or not.

“In the last eight years, Nigerians have been subjected to misery as a result of incessant increment in the pump price of petrol. 

“The continued increment of the pump price of petrol without any attempt to build refineries for local refining of petroleum products is unacceptable by Nigerians and a further evidence of insincerity on the part of the federal government, particularly the so called messianic APC administrations.”

There’s prosperity after this temporary pain – Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has enjoined Nigerians to remain hopeful that prosperity shall come as they persevere to confront present challenges and the temporary pain being experienced.

The president, in his Islamic New Year message, which he personally signed and released on his twitter handle @officialABAT, urged Muslims to imbibe the important values of patience, perseverance and faithfulness, which were at the roots of the decision by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to migrate from Mecca to Madina, 1445 years ago.

Tinubu, who felicitated Muslims on Islamic New Year, said he and his team were leaving no stone unturned in a bid to deliver on the promises made in spite of the present difficulties.

The president’s message partly read: “While celebrating the New Year, I implore you, fellow compatriots, to imbibe the important values of patience, perseverance and faithfulness, which were at the roots of the decision by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to migrate from Mecca to Madina, 1445 years ago.

“As we persevere and struggle to confront our present challenges and the temporary pain we experience, I enjoin you to remain hopeful that there is light and prosperity at the end of the tunnel.

“My team and I are leaving no stone unturned in our bid to deliver on the promises we made, in spite of the present difficulties.

“As we usher in the New Islamic Year, I urge you all to engage in prayers and supplications to God Almighty to direct and protect our path to greatness and prosperity in Nigeria.”

Reps reject call to reverse hike

Earlier yesterday, the House of Representatives rejected a call to reverse the N617 petrol price.

This followed the debate on a motion moved by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere (LP, Imo) at the plenary on Wednesday.

In his motion, the lawmaker called on the House to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the increment of the Petrol Pump Price by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) and the Marketers.

He said, Section 32 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 saddles the Petroleum Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority with the task of regulating and monitoring technical and commercial midstream and downstream petroleum operations in Nigeria. 

Ugochinyere however Informed that, Petrol Pump Price was increased from N537 to N617 by Petrol marketers on Tuesday 18th July, 2023 without conferring with the relevant agencies of government.

“In view of the current socio-economic challenges being faced by Nigerians, a hike in the price of fuel will heap great suffering and hardship on Nigerians”.

However, while debating the motion, lawmakers conversant with the oil marketing industry argued that, it amounts to undue interference in a deregulated, liberalised sector, a submission supported by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, who presided over the plenary.

Kalu reminded the lawmakers that, the National Assembly has no power to determine fuel pump price.

He however noted that, as Representatives of the people, they emphasised with the masses and will do anything within it’s power to act without infringing on the provisions of the law.

Speaking after the plenary, Abubakar Hassan Fulata (APC,Jigawa) said, any move to fix fuel pump price amounts to violation of law by the legislature at the moment.

He reminded that, the National Assembly enacted the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which deregulated and liberalised the sector which was welcomed by Nigerians.

He said, “We made these laws and we cannot violate it. It is clear, the petroleum sector has been liberalised. Although there are agencies saddled with regulating the sector, that is not to say, there will be outright interference.

“In this kind of situation, there are factors and forces that drive the sector and they always vary defending on what is happening in the global market. Things will change for the better.These are only some of the occasional shocks that are inevitable.

“It was an unfortunate development, but we are not insensitive to what is happening regarding oil pump price increase. Our hands are tied and we go by the provisions of the law in any situation. We support anything that will alleviate the sufferings brought about by the increase and the removal of subsidy”.

 

By Abbas Jimoh,  Muideen Olaniyi, Idowu Isamotu, Balarabe Alkassim & Baba Martins

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