Nigeria: New pump price of petrol dominates newspaper headlines in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The new pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, announced on Wednesday by the minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the move by organized labour to resist the new fuel price regime and President Muhammadu Buhari's intention to make public the names of looters of the economy overshadowed all the other stories in Nigeria this week.

The GUARDIAN ran the story under four headlines - "VP explains reasons behind new price regime", "Fuel price hike will solve scarcity, says Mohammed", "Petrol price hike: Nigerians react, adopt self-discipline" and "How we arrived at N145 price for fuel, by government".

According to the paper, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday said the current regime of deregulation was to allow full participation of private sectors operators in the importation and subsequent refining of the petroleum products in the near future.

It said that the VP, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, also expressed the government’s determination to drastically reduce the regime of importation of refined petroleum products by 70 per cent by 2018.

The explanation, the paper reported, is coming against the backdrop of the impending nationwide strike being planned by the organised labour in collaboration with the civil societies organisations.

The VP said he had listened and read various observations about the fuel-pricing regime since it started, and the attendant issues generated and admitted that all certainly have strong points.

According to the vice president, the real issue was not a removal of subsidy, noting that at US$40 per barrel there is not much of a subsidy to remove. He said the most important issue of course is how to shield the poor from the worst effects of the policy, describing President Muhammadu Buhari as probably one of the most convinced pro-subsidy advocates. He noted that the local consumption of fuel in the country is almost entirely imported.

The paper quoted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as saying that the Federal Government’s decision to hike the price of petrol from N86.50 to N145.00 was inevitable.

Speaking at the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) Marketers Conference in Lagos Friday, Mohammed argued that the increment was needed to end the crippling fuel scarcity in the country and ensure availability of the product to Nigerians.

The Minister said the decision would benefit the country as it would ensure product availability across the country, reduce hoarding, smuggling and diversion of products substantially and stabilise price.

He added that the decision would improve fuel supply situation through private sector participation and create labour market stability, noting that it would potentially create additional 200,000 jobs through new investments in refineries and retails, and prevent potential loss of 400,000 jobs in existing investments.

Mohammed explained that the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, which is the nation’s main foreign exchange earner, has caused a drastic reduction in the amount of foreign exchange available.

According to him, “the unavailability of forex and the inability to open letters of credit have forced marketers to stop product importation and imposed over 90 per cent supply on the NNPC since October 2015, in contrast to the past where NNPC supplied 48 per cent of the national requirement.”

Following Federal Government’s sudden increase in the pump price of petrol on Wednesday, the impact is gradually dawning on many Nigerians, according to the GUARDIAN which reported that while a few have welcomed the development, especially those outside Lagos and Abuja, who have been buying the product even above the new pump price, others, including the Labour and rights activists, have condemned the decision and are kicking for action towards a reversal.

Immediately the hike was announced, filling stations that hoarded or refused to dispense the product the previous day, including some that never sold for days or weeks, quickly adjusted their pumps and came back to live.

With the headline "Fuel price: NLC to go on strike Wednesday", the PUNCH reported on the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday," saing the Congress had taken a decision to embark on “total strike” on Wednesday to protest the increase in the fuel pump price from N86 and N86.50k to N145 per litre by the Federal Government.

The meeting, which was also attended by all the major civil society organisations based in Abuja, was chaired by the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba.

A senior labour leader said that leaders of the NLC took a unanimous decision to condemn the price increase and mobilise workers for a nationwide protest on Wednesday to prevail on the government to reverse the action.

He said the NEC decided to fix the planned action for Wednesday to give a two-day period to the government to reverse the increase which they described as harsh and inimical to the existence of the poor Nigerians.

However, the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, told journalists shortly after the meeting that the decision of the NEC would be made known at a press conference on Saturday.

Wabba said the decision of the NEC would be reconciled with that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

However, the TUC on Friday gave the Federal Government up till Wednes­day, May 18, 2016, to invite the leadership of labour for discussion aimed at determining the appropriate way forward in the on-going crisis surrounding the fuel pump price in­crease.

In a com­muniqué issued at the end of an emergency meeting of the Congress highest organ, the National Executive Council (NEC) and joint­ly signed by the President, Bobboi Bala Kai­gama and Acting Secretary General, Simeso Amachree, TUC said it rejected in its entirety the astronomical increase in the price of pet­rol from N86.50 per litre to N145 per litre.

“The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) at an emergency meeting held on Fri­day in Lagos deliberated extensively on the recent increase in the price of Premium Mo­tor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol by the Federal Government”, the statement said.

The leadership of the Congress at the meet­ing also directed the leadership of the TUC to interface with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Civil Society Allies to work out action plans that would be put in place to protest the insensitive fuel price hike should the Government fail to meet the Wednesday, deadline.

Meanwhile the joint leadership of the Pe­troleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Associ­ation of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Work­ers (NUPENG), at its meeting Friday ex­pressed that the recent price deregulation has its benefits in the immediate and near future.

It, however, stated that the Federal Govern­ment should engage the stakeholders to work out a clear direction on how to reinvest the gains into the economy to cushion the effect of the price.

On Buhari's decision to name looters of the economy, the NATION, with the headline "Buhari to name looters", reported that President Buhari said in London Friday that the names of corrupt Nigerians will be made public in a speech he intends to deliver on May 29, saying that such corrupt individuals will be prosecuted.

Besides, all those involved in blowing up oil installations and sabotaging investments in the Niger Delta region will not go unpunished.

He spoke with journalists on the sideline of  the Anti-Corruption Summit.

Buhari said that he has already directed the Chief of Naval Staff and other service chiefs to fish out the brains behind the attacks.

He said: “What I know is that I was elected by the whole country and the least I can do is to keep the country together somehow. I assure you we will develop the capacity to do it.

On the killer herdsmen, Buhari said they are non-Nigerians who came into Nigeria from Libya.

His words:” because of what happened in Libya, when Ghadaffi, during his 43-year-regime, trained some people from the Sahel militarily. When his regime was overthrown, those people were dispatched to their countries. They found themselves in the Boko Haram and others.

“It is a major regional and virtually African problem now. There is one called Al Qaeda, there is Boko Haram and so on. It is a governmental project now to trace them, disarm them, try them and discipline them.”

He said the Fulani herdsmen  “culturally do not stay in one place; they move with the season."
-0- PANA VAO 14May2016

14 may 2016 10:32:08

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