Fuel Price Hike In NNPC Filling Stations | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Fuel Price Hike In NNPC Filling Stations

Crude Oil; oil industry, Price
Posted: Nov 15, 2016 at 5:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

We are not surprised that the recent sudden avoidable N4 increase in the price of fuel in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s filling stations across the country has been generating a lot of controversy among the generality of Nigerians.

However, it is amazing that of all Nigerians, it is only the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu that is not aware that the NNPC had increased fuel price in all its filling stations countrywide. He was reported to have feigned surprise over the fuel price increase after receiving an award from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja recently.

The minister reportedly said: “First, I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. It is a bit of surprise to me because there are processes in doing this. If they have done it, it means they have done it wrongly. The increase could be as a result of foreign exchange differentiation.”

In one way, we can pardon the minister for not being aware of the fuel price increase in NNPC filling stations. However, on the other hand, we are surprised that such a major decision to increase fuel price in NNPC filling stations specifically established to help alleviate the sufferings of millions of Nigerians in view of their lower prices when compared with private filling stations could be made without the knowledge and approval of the minister.

During the last fuel price increase a couple of months ago, government directed that NNPC filling stations should sell a litre of fuel for N139 while others should do so for N145. Since then, the price differential has attracted many consumers to NNPC filling stations. Unfortunately, the sudden increase in fuel price in NNPC filling stations from November 3, 2016 from N141 to government’s benchmark of N145 per litre is likely to bring incalculable socio-economic hardship to millions of Nigerians currently writhing under the agonising effects of economic recession. There is the likelihood that with NNPC filling stations selling fuel at N145 per litre, the private filling stations will soon increase fuel price from the current N145 per litre to N150 per litre, thereby further compounding the age-long myriad of problems of price instability and shortage of petroleum products across Nigeria.

If government, as already hinted by the minister, could attribute the fuel price hike in NNPC filling stations to foreign exchange differentiation, government cannot stop the private filling stations from increasing fuel price due to foreign exchange differentiation since they too have to buy forex from the same market.

We would like to remind the minister that the dust raised following the fuel price increase to N145 per litre a couple of months ago is yet to settle. Nigerians have anxiously been waiting for the report of the committee government set up to look into the matter hoping the price would be reduced. Now that fuel sells for N145 per litre at NNPC filling stations, there is likelihood it would sell for N150 or above per litre at other filling stations, another labour crisis over fuel price increase may be in the offing. But this must be averted in view of the attendant disastrous consequences on the socio-economic and political situation in the country. NNPC should be exemplary in its operations for other filling stations to emulate. Its filling stations, compared with others, should be a source of refuge where millions of Nigerians can be guaranteed regular supply of fuel at relatively affordable prices.

We implore the minister to ensure the fuel price returns to N135 or not more than N141 per litre at NNPC filling stations without delay.

Government should pay attention to price stability rather than price hike in matters concerning the oil and gas sector.