There are strong indications that petrol subsidy is back with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), offsetting for months, the difference between the landing costs of petrol and the pump price.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), while indulging in series of interviews with knowledgeable players in the sector, reports that the landing costs per litre of petrol is higher than the price Nigerians pay at the pump.
A source, who is a staff of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, squealed that the federal government has been quietly bearing the differential.
“The landing costs hovers around N160 to N165. The marketers buy from us and so the government bears it because it feels it will be unfair to make the consumer pay the difference.
“With the current recession, the government will not want to burden the people with a price hike,’’ the source said.
Both the NNPC and the government are also concerned by the recent smuggling of petrol across the porous Nigerian borders to Chad and Niger, where a litre of petrol goes for over N400, compared to Nigeria’s N145.
A staff of the Petroleum Products Pricing Agency (PPPRA), who also preferred anonymity, said the marketers had no moral right to divert fuel meant for the people.
“For now Forex is a big issue,’’ the source said adding that “but the NNPC sells virtually everything it imports to them. So no marketer has any right to divert fuel.”
“If indeed the product is being sold for N400 in Niger Republic like you said, the Nigerian marketer has no right to look there.
“This is because NNPC is paying the difference just because it wants every Nigerian to have easy access to the white products.
“The fluctuating foreign exchange has not helped matters, but even the marketers cannot complain because government bears the brunt of the whole thing’’, the source reiterated.
However, a source at the NNPC fears that government may find itself overburdened by the subsidy as the economy is still caught in a web of recession.
“Soon the government may not be able to pay the price difference again because it runs into billions of naira”, said the source.