The Nigeria Government last week increased the price of the petrol Motor Spirit(PMS) from N138-N151, this saddened the heart of all Nigerians, that at this time of Economic hardship imposed by a coronavirus lockdown, a decision as this was taken.
“Please be informed that a new product price adjustment has been effected on our payment platform,” Nigeria’s Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) said in a memo to industry stakeholders.
“To this end, the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) is now one hundred and fifty-one naira, fifty-six kobo (N151.56) per litre.” But the market price in different parts of the country ranges from N159 to N160.The increment has since been greeted by outrage from government opposition, critics and citizens. Different civil societies, student unions and organisation are already planning a mass demonstration against the increased petrol prices.
Many accused the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari of being insensitive to the plight of the people at a time when unemployment has spiked have lost their jobs and many industries just charting their way up in return to economic normalcy.
“Increasing fuel and electricity tariff is retrogressive, a travesty, and blatant violation of Nigeria’s international human rights obligations,” a civil society organisation – Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) tweeted. “It amounts to punishing the country’s poorest by the govt. of President Buhari, Nigeria deserves better than this.”
Regardless of the backlash that has greeted the government’s decision, however, only seven countries – Venezuela, Iran, Sudan, Angola, Qatar, Kuwait and Algeria sell petrol at a cheaper price than Nigeria – currently ranked 8th cheapest in the world according to latest data by GlobalPetrolPrices.com.
The average price of gasoline around the world at the end of August, according to the data platform, is 1.01 U.S. Dollar per litre. The current official exchange rate which puts Naira at N383 to the dollar shows that the global average petrol price will purchase two litres in Nigeria.
The differences in prices across countries, the data platform said, are due to the various taxes and subsidies for gasoline.
“All countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets but then decide to impose different taxes. As a result, the retail price of gasoline is different. Use the drop menu to see the prices in gallons,” GlobalPetrolPrices.com said.
“As a general rule, richer countries have higher prices while poorer countries and the countries that produce and export oil have significantly lower prices. One notable exception is the U.S. which is an economically advanced country but has low gas prices.”
Despite Nigeria’s fair standing in the global standings for fuel prices, the government has had it tough in convincing the people on why it took the decision.
Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed said the increase in prices was because the government can no longer afford to subsidise fuel prices as it did from 2006 to 2019.
Mohammed noted that fuel subsidy alone cost the government N10.413trn for the 13 years – an average of N743.8bn per annum.
Before the increase in petrol prices, Nigeria’s economy was threading a tight rope from a potential slip into another recession in four years.
Nigeria’s state for budget and national planning Clem Ikanade Agba in August said only positive economic growth in the third quarter of 2020 could save the country from slipping into recession.
“But if we put on all our efforts, if we do what we have to do as Nigerians, then there will be room for recovery, it takes a joint effort, not only of government but all Nigerians to take our country serious, play our roles in order to ensure that we have a quick recovery,” Agba said at training for Technical Working Group Anchors and Heads of the secretariat on the development of Medium-Term National Development Plans in Abuja.