By CHRIS OCHAYI
ABUJA — Opinion poll conducted by an independent firm, the NOIPoll Limited, has revealed that over 78 per cent of Nigerians bought petrol above the official pump price of N97 per litre between January and March, 2014.
It said the results of the petrol price monitoring polls conducted in the first quarter, revealed a significant 47-point increase in the proportion of Nigerians who bought petrol above the official pump price from 31 per cent in January to 78 per cent in March 2014.
The poll revealed: “The result obtained in March 2014 represents the highest proportion of respondents who purchased petrol above N97 in the 15 months of conducting the Petrol Price Monitoring Polls which started from January 2013.
“The quarterly average Q1 shows that the majority 53 per cent purchased petrol above the official pump price of N97 with the highest obtained in the North-East and South-East zones; while 44 per cent purchased at the official price.
“This quarter’s figure represents the second highest on the purchase of petrol above the official price, after peaking in Q1 2013 58 per cent. More findings revealed that on average, 64 per cent of Nigerians bought petrol from major marketer filling stations in the first quarter of 2014.
“However, monthly trend analysis shows a downward trend with a substantial 32-Point decline from January 78 per cent to March 46 per cent in the proportion of Nigerians who purchased petrol from major filling stations. These findings highlight the adverse effect of the crippling fuel scarcity experienced across Nigeria in the first quarter of 2014.
“In January 2012, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, along with government announced an increase in the price of petrol from N65 to N141 as a result of the removal of subsidy for the reason that over a trillion Naira was spent in 2011 on subsidy.
“Subsidy has been defined as money given by the state or public body to keep down cost of commodities. Some people see it as a form of protectionism or trade barrier because domestic goods are made affordable artificially. Within the Nigerian petroleum pricing context, subsidy would then mean selling petrol below the cost of production or importation.
“The removal of the fuel subsidy led to days of protest by Nigerians led by organised labour and civil societies who were unhappy about the perceived hardship this action would cause Nigerians and the lack of notice by the government to carry out such plans. In line with this, the government as a stop-gap measure partially removed subsidy, thereby bringing the official pump price of petrol to N97.