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Petrol @N617/litre: FG on path to dictatorship, we’ll resort to self-help – NLC

The latest increase came less than two months after the price of petrol moved from N195 to over N500/litre, an increase of more than 200…

Petrol price Tuesday jumped to N617 from N539 per litre, with an immediate ripple effect on cost of transportation and other goods amid complaints by millions of Nigerians that survival is increasingly becoming difficult. 

The latest increase came less than two months after the price of petrol moved from N195 to over N500/litre, an increase of more than 200 per cent and at a time when rising inflation was eating deep into the income of citizens. 

Daily Trust reports that it was tough for many Nigerians commuting around due to the latest hike even as some motorists who could afford it thronged filling stations to buy the product for fear of the unknown. 

Mass trekking was observed at the close of work in major cities across the country. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd had on Tuesday confirmed the adjustment of pump prices from N539 to N617 per litre citing market forces. 

We’ll resort to self-help – Labour 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said Tuesday that it was appalled by the latest hike in pump price of petrol. 

Its president, Comrade Joe Ajaero who said this in a statement, said they restrained themselves from making further comments publicly on the “Vexatious issues around the recent but unfortunate unilateral hike in the price of PMS in the guise of the so-called subsidy withdrawal, which has unleashed predictably as we had earlier warned unimaginable and unprecedented hardship, sorrow, anguish and suffering upon Nigerian workers and masses.” 

He said while their patience was anchored on their strong and abiding faith in the outcomes of the processes of social dialogue and its mechanisms, especially within a democratic setting, “The government of Nigeria seems to have been misled into believing that resorting to impunity and imperiousness in governance in a democracy is a beneficial option as it pursues its stated and unstated objectives. 

“It is this belief that we are sure has continued shaping the actions of this government since its inauguration on the 29th day of May, 2023 to continue inflicting mindless and heartless pains on the populace one after the other without the decency of embracing the tenets of democracy, which requires wide and deep stakeholder consultation on weighty matters of state. 

“As it stands, rather than reciprocate the goodwill of Nigerian workers, the federal government has insisted on threading the path of dictatorship and seeking to impoverish the people further by taking steps that can only be described as robbing the people of Nigeria to pay and feed the rich. 

“It is on this basis that the NLC strongly condemns the decision of the Tinubu led administration to seek the approval of the National Assembly to obtain another tranche of external loans worth N500b from the World Bank for the purposes of carrying out a phantom palliative measure to cushion the effect of its poorly thought-out hike in the prices of Premium Motor Spirit. Remember that the U$800m, which was already proposed before the devaluation of the Naira by this government was worth about N400b then but is now worth about N650b after devaluation. It is from this, it proposes to bring out N500b for distribution. 

“The proposal to pay N8,000 to each of the so-called 12 million poorest Nigerian households for a period of six months insults our collective intelligence and makes a mockery of our patience and abiding faith in social dialogue, which the government may have alluded to albeit pretentiously,” he said. 

The labour leader also frowned at the proposal to pay National Assembly members the sum of N70 billion and the judiciary N36 billion, among others, saying “This is the most insensitive, reckless and brazen diversion of our collective patrimony into the pockets of public officers whose sworn responsibility it is to protect our nation’s treasury.” 

He added that it appeared the federal government was only deceiving Nigerians on how to manage the subsidy removal for the benefit of all. 

“It is important to inform Nigerians that despite having shown our readiness to commence work in the committees, the federal government, which convenes the meetings, is yet to inaugurate the National Steering Committee thus stalling the work of the proposed committees. 

“We do not want to provide a cover for the government to get away with the hardship it has imposed on the people. We do not want to legitimise impunity. 

“As a result, if the government does not want to stop these fortuitous actions that it is pursuing in the name of palliatives, we will be forced to constructively review our engagement with the government on this vexatious issue and take matters into our own hands,” the NLC president said.

 

No longer at ease 

In the FCT, the increase in the pump price of petrol created a sharp increase in transport fares with the commercial cab operators claiming they were finding it difficult to remain in business.

For instance, one Mr Sunday, who plies the Gwarinpa to Wuse Market route with his commercial vehicle, said the operators have increased the rate from N300 to N700 to cover the cost of petrol while saying that he may opt out of the business entirely. 

“I am also going to join my colleagues tomorrow (today) in parking my vehicle. I can’t afford to buy fuel at N630; the price is too much. We endured it when they removed the subsidy. This morning we woke up to new prices,” he said. 

A keke rider, Aminu Isah, said he had to increase the transport fare he charges due to the high cost of fuel. 

“Fuel is expensive. I had to buy the black market at N850 per litre because the filling station I visited was shut. It’s hard for everybody, it’s the government’s fault not my fault.” 

Government workers and ordinary Nigerians also bemoaned their plight in the biting economic hardship in the country. 

A civil servant, Amina Abba lamented how the new price regime is taking a toll on her meagre salary as she paid N800 from Area 11 to Jabi Park in Abuja.

“After the first increase in May, I was paying N500 to go and another N500 to come back but now I would have to pay N1, 600 just on transport and how much is my salary?” she asked. 

“Nigerians are the strongest people I have ever seen in this world. You won’t try it in many countries,” she said. 

An IT student at Utako, FCT, Suleiman Bature, told our reporter that due to the recent rise in pump price, he abandoned his vehicle and resorted to trekking and boarding a cab. 

“I live in Wuse and come to Utako five days a week; it’s practically not feasible as an IT student. Even staff members who are on payroll are finding it difficult to cope with the situation,” he said. 

In Bauchi State, petrol prices increased from N540 to N630 per litre as many filling stations were shut down in the state. 

Earlier on Tuesday, queues were also observed at filling stations along Bauchi-Jos Road, especially at Kaisan and Alyusra stations that were selling at the former price of N539 and N540 per litre.

Our correspondent also observed that many filling stations had closed down earlier in the day until late afternoon when some adjusted the price to N630 per litre and continued selling.

In Ogun State, our correspondent observed the return of fuel queues in Abeokuta following increase in fuel price as petrol were sold at between N617, N620 and N650 per litre depending on the station. 

Places visited included NNPC at Oke-Mosan, Goldzek at Ibara Housing Estate, NIPCO on Abiola Way, and Itoku, all in Abeokuta, where customers were seen in long queues struggling to buy petrol. 

However, Kaslat at Oke Lantoro, Mao at Olorunsogo, Kaab as well as Sunny Yinka at Leme, shut down their operations. 

A taxi driver, Usman Adeola, expressed his frustration over the fuel price increase, saying “It’s not good; Nigerians are just being made to suffer every day. Our children are in school, we have not paid their tuition fees, rent has not been paid and even to feed ourselves is a huge challenge. 

“I swear to God Almighty, I have never eaten anything today. I am a cab driver, and here on the queue. The car owner is waiting for daily return,” he said. 

On his part, Shope Leoso said, “This is inhumane treatment by the government. They removed fuel subsidies without putting in the necessary palliatives.

 “The first thing should be palliative like increasing salary, subsidising food and ensuring security of lives before you remove subsidy.” 

In Kano, Ibrahim Saleh, who owns a chain of cold water stores said it was naïve for the federal government to leave Nigerians to the vagaries of international market forces. 

“I am seriously disappointed in President Tinubu for thinking that removing subsidy will solve our problem. He ought to have blocked leakages first, fixed our refineries, arrested bunkerers, provided palliative measures and then removed the subsidy. 

“It is wrong to say Nigerians must buy petrol at the same price as people in Niger, Chad, or Ghana. The crude is ours, we deserve empathy…I am truly disappointed because it appears the new government is also at a loss like the Buhari administration it succeeded,” he said. 

Adamu Salihu, another Kano resident who said he and his family members voted for President Tinubu in the last election, lamented the hike in the pump price of fuel. 

Salihu, who said he hails from Bichi LGA of the state, said he might be forced to take to crime.

He said, “Honestly this new price has hit us very hard. This is not what we voted for. My children and I voted for the current government in power. What we are being served is contrary to what we asked for. 

“I am a Nigerian; I deserve to be treated right. I am no longer a youth, I have children and they also go out and vote. Very soon if there is no change, I will ask them to stop voting because they are no longer going to school and have started hawking ‘Awara’. 

“I took them out of school and they are now selling ‘Awara’. How can they be denied education and start hawking? I have been in politics since the time of NRC and SDP. If things continue to go like this, we can retaliate. If our lawmakers and representatives will not do anything about it. We can take the law into our hands despite being law-abiding citizens. 

 

Increase caused by market forces – NNPCL 

Responding to the development, the Group Chief Executive Officer NNPCL, Mele Kyari, attributed the increase in petrol pump prices to market forces. 

He spoke with State House reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa Abuja. 

Kyari said the increase was not based on a short supply of petrol.

Asked to explain the current situation as Nigerians were wondering why there was an increase in the price of PMS from N540/l to N617/l, Kyari said, “I don’t have the details at this moment. We have the marketing wing of our company. They adjust prices depending on the market realities. This is really what is happening; this is the meaning of making sure that the market regulates itself so that prices will go up and sometimes they will come down also. This is what we have seen and in reality this is how the market works”. 

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, said the price increase arose from rising crude prices. He also cited changes in freight prices alongside other ancillary costs importers incur during distribution.

 

Increase minimum wage to N100, 000 – Civil society 

Meanwhile, the ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) and Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) have urged the federal government to review the minimum wage N100, 000 per month to reduce the hardship being faced by Nigerians.

They made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at a joint media conference on the state of the nation. 

The Lead Director of CSJ, Barrister Eze Onyekpere and AAN Country Director, Ene Obi, observed that the proposed cash transfers to the poorest of the poor on the National Social Register (NSR) is not a bad idea provided the funds are not from borrowed money but from savings. 

Onyekpere who read the statement of the meeting said the federal government should engage the organised labour, the private sector, professionals and women groups to fashion out programmes that would cushion the hardship being faced by Nigerians especially in respect to transportation, agriculture and health. 

‘Bring Back Buhari’, Twitter users knock Tinubu 

Tweeting via @Waspapping, a social media user posted the picture of Buhari and captioned it: “’Bring this man back!” 

@Frankech777: “Palliative announced when fuel was N540 per litre. Palliative is yet to be paid and fuel is already N617 per litre.”

@afekhadeh: “This is outrageous! The ever increasing prices of essential goods and services in Nigeria are putting so much pressure on us the masses finances. The government needs to do something about it fast.”

@AbRaheemmuhd: “You voted because of tribe and religion. Now both you and I are buying fuel at the same price because the only language and religion the fuel attendants understand is money. I know tomorrow you will still repeat the same mistake because you are a Nigerian anyways!”

 

By Muideen Olaniyi, Seun Adeuyi, Dalhatu Liman, Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Peter Moses (Abeokuta) & Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Abdulhamid Abdulyasaar

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