The federal government of Nigeria has reacted to pressure mounted by the marketers of petroleum product for an upward review in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit – petrol.
According to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, there was no immediate plan to increase the pump price of petrol.
When approached by newsmen to speak on the planned increase in petrol price, Baru, who declined to speak at length, said: “There is nothing like that.”
Also, Kachikwu, when approached for comment, revealed that there was no memo before the Federal Government asking for a review of the price.
The minister’s respond came against the backdrop of reports by some marketers that Nigerians should prepare for another increase in petrol prices due to the continued scarcity of foreign exchange to finance the importation of the product.
The oil marketers had last month griped that the free fall of the naira against the dollar had made it unprofitable for them to import petrol and sell at the current rate of N145 per litre.
A source, who seems to be familiar to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, disclosed that N165 is the pump price that will cover the cost of forex required for fuel importation.
Another source – official of one of the marketers’ associations – said,
“Let the government do the needful. We have already said it before that the price is not sustainable. When they fixed that price, dollar was N280 – N285; now the dollar is almost N400 and they want us to bring in products and sell at N145. It is not possible.
“But right now, most of us are getting the product from the NNPC; that is why you still see that there is product everywhere. It is an indirect case of subsidy. It means the government is subsidising it through the NNPC and we are buying at local price. Had it been that we were the ones that sourced the foreign exchange, we can’t sell it at N145.”
The development is coming barely four months after the government increased petrol prices from N86 and N86.5 per litre to between N135 and N145 per litre.