By Henry Umoru, Sebastine Obasi, Michael Eboh, Ediri Ejoh & Prince Okafor
ABUJA— Mixed reactions, yesterday, trailed the announcement by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) that petrol will now sell for N86.50 in January 2016 with some Nigerians hailing the decision while others argued that it was nothing to celebrate.
In its reaction, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the reduction as a continuation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government by deception
In a statement, yesterday, by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party noted that besides its deceptive element, the reduction in the N87per litre pump price to N86 and N86.50 per litre for the retail outlets of the NNPC and retail outlets of private business concerns respectively offered too little to cheer.
Metuh said: “After heightened expectations occasioned by the promise to review the N87 per litre pump price of petrol made by the administration amid crippling scarcity of the product during the Christmas season, the announcement of this tokenism has come as a disappointing anti-climax, considering that only in January this year, the PDP Federal Government reduced the pump price from N97 to N87 per litre.”
Also speaking, Managing Director, Highcap Securities Limited, Mr. David Adonri, said: “There are discordant tunes from government. About a week ago, comment by Minister of Finance that fuel subsidy will gradually disappear starting with increase to N97 per litre was widely reported. Now government is saying price will reduce by 50 kobo in January.
“The remedy is for government to deregulate the energy industry fully and allow prices of petroleum products be determined by market forces. Under current economic condition, no subsidy on consumption in any form by government is sustainable.
Also speaking, Olisemeka Ojieh, Managing Director, MD, Petrocarbon Engineering Limited, said reduction is insignificant.
“I welcome the reduction. It is good but not good enough. If I fill my tank with 60 litres, I only save N30 compared to the previous price. In my opinion, the reduction is too small and relatively insignificant to get the attention and praise of the average Nigerian,” he said.
For Billy Harry, President, Coalition of South-South Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, FOSSCCIMA, the reduction is a welcome development, but called on the Federal Government to carry along stakeholders before making such decisions that affect the lives of Nigerians.
He said: “It is a good decision. Everything that will make Nigerians get a better standard of living is welcome. In announcing this, I believe the Federal Government has already taken into view the thoughts of several difficulties that are facing the Nigerian citizens. It is a good idea. I just hope that it is properly monitored and implemented.”
He, however, kicked against the disparity in prices, stating that the price should be uniformed.
He said: “There is no need to have the 50 kobo difference in terms of the independent or major market. The reason is because all the products are coming in from the same source. Even if the products are coming in from private importers, it is also being regulated by PPPRA. So, whatever the consideration is that have given that advantage of price, N86 flat would have been beneficial to Nigerians.
“Like I say, before the minister or any government official stand up to make pronouncements affecting Nigerians, they should always go back to the Nigerian public, stakeholders, minimally to know their views on those issues. The reason is if we allow the ministers and those that are in power to start telling us what they think, they would not know what we feel should be good enough for the economy, neither would they know what our own input or take would be.
“It is very simple to understand. If a minister wakes up today to say he is reducing price, it means he will also wake up tomorrow to increase price unilaterally. That is not what we should be looking forward to at this time. We should be looking forward to engaging the Nigerian populace in every single decision making process, because it is even beneficial to the polity.
“Petroleum products belong to all Nigerians, so let Nigerians take decision on what should be done.
“But if fuel price is reduced, let us also be sure that it meets the requirements of Nigerians, if not, they should get back to the drawing board to ask Nigerians if an increase or reduction is actually necessary.
Also commenting, South-West Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Tokunbo Korodo, said the reduction in the price of petrol was a welcome development.
Korodo urged the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure total compliance with the new directive by all filling stations and private depots in 2016.
“Nigerians will embrace and love the present administration more if they can do more on the reduction. Nothing should stop them (government) from continuing to reduce the price gradually,” he added.