There was widespread anger by Nigerians, on Tuesday, following the hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and other oil marketers across the country.
In Abuja and Ondo State, for instance, the cost of petrol jumped from about N537/litre to between N617 and N630/litre, forcing the cost of transportation to skyrocket within hours, and leaving thousands of passengers stranded in many cities.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and many other citizens lambasted the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government for being so tough on citizens by allowing the continued hike in the price of petrol.
Although the NNPCL and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, both Federal Government entities, explained that market forces caused the hike in petrol price, since the commodity had been fully deregulated, Nigerians expressed frustrations over the continued sharp increase in the cost of the product.
It was observed that petrol price was raised from N537/litre to N617/litre at some filling stations operated by the NNPCL in Abuja on Tuesday.
Independent oil marketers confirmed the increase in the cost of the commodity, as they stated that any shift in price by NNPCL stations was an indication of a rise in the pump price of PMS.
“This is because NNPCL is still the major importer of petrol into Nigeria currently, though other marketers are gradually importing the commodity. The price this (Tuesday) morning at some NNPCL stations is N617/litre,” the Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, told one of our correspondents.
Tinubu had during his inaugural address on May 29, announced that subsidy on petrol had ended, a development that led to the jump in the price of the commodity from N198/litre to over N500/litre on May 30, 2023.
Since the withdrawal of subsidy on petrol and the floating of the naira against the dollar, marketers had continued to explain that the cost of PMS could rise to as high as N700/litre.
Similarly, the rise in the cost of crude oil in the international market has also triggered further hike in petrol price, as crude is the product from which PMS and other refined petroleum products are produced.
In Abuja, on Tuesday morning, motorists besieged filling stations that were still dispensing at N540/litre, but as the news of the hike in price by NNPCL stations filtered in, many independent outlets shut their stations.
Others immediately commenced the adjustment of their pumps to reflect the new price.
The Nigeria Labour Congress on threatened to take “matters into its own hands” following the decision by the NNPCL to hike petrol price and the Federal Government’s plan to distribute N8,000 monthly to 12 million poor households in the country.
The NLC in a statement issued by its National President, Joe Ajaero, accused the Tinubu-led government of taking from the poor to pay the rich and unleashing suffering, hardship and sorrow upon Nigerians.
It said it had restrained itself from making further comments publicly on the vexatious issues around the recent but unfortunate unilateral hike in the price of petrol, which was in the guise of “the so-called subsidy withdrawal.”
The statement read in part, “However, the government of Nigeria seems to have been misled into believing that resorting to impunity and imperiousness in governance in a democracy is a beneficial option as it pursues its stated and unstated objectives.
“It is this belief that we are sure has continued shaping the actions of this government since its inauguration on May 29, 2023, to continue inflicting mindless and heartless pains on the populace one after the other without the decency of embracing the tenets of democracy which requires wide and deep stakeholder consultations on weighty matters of state.”
The NLC stated that Nigerians would remember that the Federal Government had called for dialogue in the aftermath of its disastrous forlorn trajectory in the astronomical increase in petroleum product price “and our subsequent call for a nationwide industrial action.”
It said, “We were also witnesses to the actions of the Federal Government in procuring an unholy injunction from the courts which were served us in Gestapo style by trucks laden with fully armed soldiers and policemen.
“In all of these provocations, we remained committed to the principles of the rule of law, good conscience and democracy so that we can continue to be the moral compass for leaders in the public space. This explained our decision to suspend action on the proposed strike.”
The labour union, however, stated that rather than reciprocate the goodwill of Nigerian workers, the Federal Government insisted on threading the path of dictatorship and seeking to impoverish the people further by taking steps that could only be described as robbing the people of Nigeria to pay and feed the rich.