Nigeria’s federal government on Friday strongly pushed back on insinuations that it had increased the pump price of petrol from N162 to N212.61 per litre.
In a statement personally signed by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, the government said it had not given such approval, adding that there was no way fuel pump price increase could have been effected without the knowledge of either the President, Muhammadu Buhari or the minister.
Describing the information as “misleading”, the government maintained that it was unthinkable to raise the price of the product when negotiations were going on with organised labour and urged the general public to disregard such reports.
The government apologised to Nigerians for the inconvenience caused by panic-buying motorists embarked upon, and maintained that it would not intentionally deceive Nigerians.
“Irrespective of the source of that information, I want to assure you that it is completely untrue. Neither Mr. President, who is the minister of petroleum resources, nor my humble self who deputises for him as minister of state, has approved that the pump price of petrol should be increased by one naira. I would therefore urge you to disregard this misleading information,” Sylva stated.
According to him, in the past few months, the government has been in consultation with the organised labour to find the least painful option to respond to the global rise in the price of crude, which in turn has inevitably led to increase in the price of petrol.
The minister maintained that it was unthinkable that government would unilaterally abandon the ongoing discussions and act in the manner suggested by the information under reference.
He added: “Cynicism and deceit have never been the trademark of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. I would like to equally assure you that the engagement with organised labour and other stakeholders will continue even as the calculations to arrive at a reasonable price regime are being done; all in good faith, and you will be availed of the final outcome at the appropriate time.”
The federal government warned marketers against taking advantage of the current confusion to inflict hardship on Nigerians, stressing that it would sanction anyone making such attempt.
“Until then, all marketers are strongly advised to maintain the current pump price of PMS before the emergence of this unfortunate information. Those who may want to take advantage of this unfortunate misinformation to extort Nigerians should not give in to such temptation as there are regulatory mechanisms that government can enforce to protect its citizens.
“In conclusion, I want to sincerely apologise to all Nigerians for any distress and inconvenience the unfortunate information might have caused,” Sylva noted.
In the same vein, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it was sticking with its statement earlier in the month that there would be no fuel price increase in March, insisting on its official Twitter handle that “There shall be no increase in ex-depot price of PMS in March.”
Also in an attempt to douse public tension caused by the information it released on its website midnight yesterday, the PPPRA, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Abdulkadir Saidu, said the document did not indicate that petrol price had been increased.
The PPPRA said the “guiding prices” posted on its website were only indicative of current market trends and did not translate to any increase in the pump price of petrol.
It reminded the general public of the introduction of the market-based pricing regime for petrol regulation 2020 as gazetted by the federal government, declaring that based on the regulation, prices are expected to be determined by market realities in line with the dictates of market forces.
Saidu argued that one of the conditions for the implementation of the market-based pricing regime is the monthly release of the guiding price to reflect current market fundamentals.
He said the data was made public in line with the PPPRA’s mandate to maintain constant surveillance over all key indices relevant to pricing policy and to monitor market trends on a daily basis to determine guiding prices.
“The agency is not unaware of the challenges with the supply of PMS due to some concerns leading NNPC to be the sole importer of PMS. PPPRA is also mindful of the current discussion going on between the government and the organised labour on the deregulation policy.
“While consultation with relevant stakeholders is ongoing, PPPRA does not fix or announce prices and therefore there is no price increase. The current PMS price is being maintained while consultations are being concluded.
“Even though market fundamentals for PMS in the past few months indicated upward price trends, the pump price has remained the same and we are currently monitoring the situation across retail outlets nationwide,” the agency stated.
Sequel to the statement, it has also pulled down the template for petrol pricing from its website after the uproar and confusion caused by the development.
An analysis of the information further showed that the price of petrol may hit N212.61 per litre any time from now, if the authorities approved the latest price guide set by the agency.
Although the agency said last year that it would no longer be involved in fixing the price of the product since the market had been “deregulated”, it however released a lower band of N209.61 and higher band N212.61 per litre for the month in the latest template.
The pricing template showed the average price per ton of the commodity was about $561.96, or N169.22 per litre, while the average freight rate cost (North-West Europe to West Africa) was about $21.63 per litre or N6.51 per litre.
Also, the agency in the figures released earlier, said the ex-coastal price was N175.73 per litre, average lightering expenses was fixed at N4.81 per litre while the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) charge was put at N2.49 per litre;
In addition, the template revealed that the NIMASA charge is now N0.23 per litre; jetty thruput N1.61 per litre while storage charge is N2.58 per litre and average finance cost of N2.17 per litre, giving an Expected Landing Cost (ELC) of N189.61.
Further analysis put the wholesale margin at N4.03 per litre; administration charge at N1.23 per litre; transporters’ allowance (NTA) was fixed at N3.89 per litre; bridging fund cost was N7.51 per litre and Marine Transport Average (MTA) remained at N0.15 per litre.
With this, the expected ex-depot price for wholesale products marketers would be N206.42 per litre.
Earlier in the month, the NNPC assured Nigerians that there would be no price increase for the product in March until all negotiations with labour were concluded.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja