Amid COVID -19 hardship, Nigerians brace up for fresh petrol squeeze

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As economies world over are grappling with the hardship brought about by the Corona Virus pandemic, the woes of Nigerians might soon be compounded if remarks by the Federal Government on optimization of petroleum product cost is anything to go by.

Speaking at the official launch of Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimization Programme in Abuja last week, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said with no provision of subsidy in the 2021 budget, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, cannot continue to bear the cost of under-recovery.

He admonished Nigerians to be ready to bear the pains of increased petrol pump price as crude oil price climbs above $60 per barrel.

He said: “Since we are optimizing everything, NNPC needs to also think about optimization of product cost because as we all know, oil prices are where they are today, $60.

“As desirable as this is, this has serious consequences as well on product prices. So we want to take the pleasure and we should as a country be ready to take the pain. Today the NNPC is taking a big hit from this. We all know that there is no provision in the budget for subsidy.

“So, somewhere down the line, I believe the NNPC cannot continue to take this blow. There is no way because there is no provision for it. As a country, let us take the benefits of the higher crude oil prices and I hope we will also be ready to take a little pain on the side of higher product prices.”

Labour Union led by Comrade Ayuba Wabba has already voiced out the displeasure of Nigerian workers saying they cannot afford to bear the brunt of another petrol increase.

The NLC president said he was not sure Nigerians would be ready to bear any more pain at this time because of the fact that a lot of factors have affected the economic, social and even the well being of Nigerians.

“Any additional pain at this point in time certainly will not be taken lightly. As you are aware, the NLC said it would have to discuss even the issue of technical report on the September 2020 increase which we could not adopt at the last meeting of the National Executive Council. Certainly, it’s a thing that we cannot swallow,” he said.

Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, also took a swipe at the Federal Government saying it wasn’t logical for an oil producing country like Nigeria, to continue to suffer from arbitrary fuel price increases.

“When you have officials that seem to be celebrating the suffering of Nigerians there is nothing surprising from such official comment.

“One wonders what are the benefits the people get from Nigeria being an oil producing country. Nigeria’s oil is a big opportunity for institutional corruption because in the name of fuel subsidy and fuel and importation.

“Scams and corruption in the oil industry overwhelm governance systems. Consequently, the governments are not meeting the expectations of Nigerians,” he lamented.

 

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