The rise in the price of petrol has reduced the level of patronage at filling stations as Nigerians grapple with the ripple effects of the government’s decision on fuel subsidy removal.
Checks by our correspondents on Wednesday revealed that due to the N537 new pump price of fuel introduced by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), many filling stations in the territory now record fewer customers.
In most of the stations, the product was available but motorists bought less petrol, describing full tank purchases as avoidable luxury.
It was learnt many others had parked their vehicles at home, while others used theirs when it was absolutely necessary.
Civil servants who could not afford to go out have resorted to staying at home even without permission from their employers.
Those who have personal businesses only go out when there are no options; a development that has rendered highways less busy.
A manager at a filling station in Kano who pleaded anonymity, said they used to sell out their stock within two days before, but “it is now a week and we still have the commodity.
“If you see anyone filling up his tank, look at the type of the car, it will definitely belong to a government official, politician or an influential person.”
Pump attendants at some filling stations described the new development as “scary”, saying patronage had dropped by over 50 per cent.
Adeyemi Joy, an attendant at Shema Filling Station along Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, said “Many of our customers now buy between N5, 000 and N10, 000 fuel and this is below half tank considering the current price.”
Another fuel attendant who did not want his name in print, said, “It is a surprise to us that most of our big customers who used to be regular here have not been regular anymore since the fuel price increase. Even when they come, they no longer pay to fill their tanks.”
In a tweet Wednesday, leading activist and founder of ANAP Foundation, Atedo Peterside said “Let us watch NNPC Limited daily consumption figures collapse as the component parts of the old figures were – real domestic consumption, petrol smuggled across the border and non-existent petrol that only existed because it was assigned to bogus subsidy claims.”
Workers skip duty
Our correspondents gathered that workers in some agencies in Abuja now skip days due to the high transport fares.
Fewer vehicles were seen on the streets as most car owners have parked their vehicles. The situation was the same in Kano, Zamfara, Ekiti and Lagos states.
Our correspondent in Kano reports that many car owners were considering the option of substituting their cars with motorcycles or battery powered bicycles. In a visit to Audu Bako Secretariat, a civil servant told our reporter that most of the vehicles belonging to the junior staff of the ministry have been grounded.
“You know how a junior worker is, especially one under a state government payroll. Normally, they hardly drive their cars for 30 days straight without parking them to wait for their salary.
“Now that we are experiencing this high price of fuel, most of them have grounded their vehicles while some of them are looking at alternative means – to sell them and replace them with motorcycles.”
Faisal Ali, who works with one of the local government areas in Kano, said they have started skipping attendance.
“It has not been institutionalised but our superiors are not complaining. Many of us now go to the office two or three times a week.
“Those whose work is inevitable in the office are being supported by the superiors,” he said.
The level of patronage at filling stations in Ekiti State is very low due to the hike in the price of petrol.
However, the majority of the stations do not sell in the daytime but prefer to sell late in the evening at higher prices between N600 and N650.
Our correspondent reports that the situation is biting harder on workers as they don’t resume at the normal time. Some stay on the road to see who will assist them to get to the nearest point to get to their destination or office.
Many offices were virtually empty as only a few workers were seen around.
Govs back subsidy removal
Despite the hardship residents are facing over the subsidy removal, governors yesterday expressed support for the president’s decision to end the subsidy regime.
The governors under the banner of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) led by their chairman, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, spoke when the president hosted them at the State House, Abuja.
The governors, who took turns to speak, expressed happiness with the president for the decision to remove subsidy, all-inclusive leadership and statesmanship. They congratulated him and promised to work with him to ameliorate the short-term impact of the decision.
AbdulRasaq thanked the president for the invitation to deliberate on the challenges of poverty and security, promising that they would support the federal government in meeting the targets of human development.
“The NGF will follow the tradition of working constitutionally and harmoniously with you,” he assured.
Major oil marketers promise 100 buses, support FG
Meanwhile, the president has directed Vice President Kashim Shettima led National Economic Council (NEC) to begin the process of providing interventions to the people.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State revealed this yesterday while briefing State House reporters after leading some major oil marketers on a courtesy call on the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor said the marketers were in the presidential villa to express solidarity with the president for his bold decision to end the fuel subsidy payment.
He said the president’s action showed his determination and courage to remove the haemorrhage that had bedevilled the country for decades.
He said the country was spending about N4 trillion annually on subsidy, which henceforth would be taken to the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for sharing among three tiers of government.
The governor said while there would be some discomfort on the part of the people, the move would eventually pay off as there could be no gains without pain.
He said with the policy in place, the country would be saving over N6 trillion annually, noting that fuel prices have escalated in some neighbouring countries because of the increase in pump price in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPMAN), Mrs Winifred Akpani, announced the intention of the oil marketers to donate 50 to 100 ‘50-seater’ compressed natural gas buses to support the government’s interventions.
Akpani said the courtesy visit was to express their support for the federal government’s decisions to remove the fuel subsidy and maintain a single exchange rate in the country.
She said that they were aware of the difficulties the subsidy removal had created in the country, expressing optimism that it was going to reposition the country.
The Managing Director of Northwest Petroleum and Gas Company Limited noted that Nigeria in the first three months of 2023 spent over N2 trillion, adding that if it continued with the payment, by the end of the year, it might spend about N7 trillion in subsidy.
Akpani said the association had been consistent in its clamour for a free market with subsidy removal, which successive administrations could not do because of a lack of courage and political will.
She said they made some suggestions to the president, adding that the removal of fuel subsidy and government policy of conversion of vehicles to use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in place of petrol would attract more investments in the gas sector and create more jobs.
She said the president was pleased to hear the association’s resolve to support the government in providing relief for the people, adding that Tinubu demonstrated knowledge of the oil market by asking intelligent questions.
But data released by Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWC) showed that in 2022, the country paid N4.4trn on subsidy; N1.4trn in 2021 and N900bn in 2020.
Reduce workdays to 4, MURIC tells FG
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged the federal government to reduce workdays to four throughout Nigeria.
MURIC’s Director, Prof Ishaq Akintola, in a statement yesterday, said the removal of fuel subsidy had started a bandwagon effect on the lives of Nigerians in different ways, particularly transportation.
He said, “Transport fares have skyrocketed to unbearable levels in all parts of the country, leading to a situation where workers and other commuters get stranded midway.
“The MURIC is deeply concerned about the plight of poor Nigerians who are getting stranded on the way due to a rise in transport fares. We are particularly worried about the fate of students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions whose pocket money and allowances are fast drying up and those whose pocket monies cannot take them home.
“As our honest and sincere contribution to the search for interventions and palliatives, MURIC suggests that FG should reduce workdays from five to four. This will make Nigeria’s workdays start from Monday to Thursday if this policy is adopted.
“This template has been tried in Kaduna State and it is still working well. It has brought happiness to both workers and students in the state since it was introduced three years ago,” he said.
“The latest model is that of Kwara State where the state government introduced a three-day work week two days ago. State governments may pick their own preferences,” he added.
By Muideen Olaniyi, Abbas Jimoh, Seun Adeuyi (Abuja), Salim U. Ibrahim (Kano), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), & Shehu Umar (Gusau)