•FG keeps mum on upward review of PMS cost
The queues by motorists for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, which had persisted since February in Abuja and environs, gradually disappeared on Thursday as more filling stations joined in dispensing the product.
It was, however, observed that some retail outlets dispensed the commodity at rates above the approved N165/litre price, particularly filling stations located in the suburbs of Abuja.
This came as members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria told our correspondent that they were not aware of any meeting between oil marketers and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority.
The NMDPRA had stated on Wednesday that it was meeting with oil marketers on issues bordering on the cost of petrol, payment of bridging claims and other concerns in the downstream oil sector.
The regulator, however, kept mute on Thursday when contacted to speak on whether there would be an increase in petrol price going by the demands of IPMAN, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, as well as the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association.
It was observed that filling stations in Abuja dispensed petrol at their own rates, as Khalif retail station in Kubwa, for instance, sold the commodity at N250/litre on Thursday to motorists.
Commenting on the development, the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that the current situation with petrol price showed that the government was not against calls for an upward review of PMS price.
“The issue about increasing PMS price has been their (government) only solution to ending subsidy, but because of this (2023) election that is coming they are restricting themselves,” he stated.
On whether the government through the NMDPRA had any meeting with IPMAN members, Ukadike replied, “I’m not aware of any such meeting, but if there was any meeting I’ll let you know.”
When told that the queues in Abuja and neighbouring states were gradually disappearing, the IPMAN official stated that more marketers had returned from the Sallah break to resume business.
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Also, the Secretary, Abuja-Suleja IPMAN, Mohammed Shuaibu, whose unit covers Abuja, Kogi, Niger and parts of Nasarawa and Kaduna, told our correspondent that he was not aware of the meeting between the NMDPRA and marketers.
“I don’t have any information about that. The NMDPRA should come out clean. However, I’ll like to state that the government knows where the problem is,” he stated.
Shuaibu added, “As far as the government allows NNPC to be the sole importer of this product when our refineries are ineffective, then the crisis will continue. We have two refineries in Port Harcourt, one in Warri and another one in Kaduna, which is more or less a scrap right now.
“Since you are importing, you should deregulate and allow those who have the resources to import the product to do so. But the moment you are regulating, the problem will not be solved.
“You don’t expect marketers to buy the product at N167 to N170/litre and bring it to Abuja or neighbouring states to sell at N165/litre. It is impossible. And that is why people are saying they have to sell above that approved price.”
He added, “As I’m speaking to you now, they are selling N185/litre and above in Abuja based on what I heard. So where is the government regulating? In all honesty they should come out clean and tell everybody the truth.”
Meanwhile, one of our correspondents observed that the fuel queues on Lagos roads were gradually reducing following marketers’ decision to sell petrol above N165/litre.
Findings showed that while some fuel stations were selling at N200/litre, others dispensed the product at N185/litre; some others sold at N165.
A customer who simply gave his name as Ignatius Valentine said he bought at an outlet belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation around Ikotun-Egbe at N200/litre.
“I bought at N200/litre in my jerry but the queue is gradually going down. I think they can sell above the normal pump price but let the product be available for use. Most of them have the products but are just waiting for the prices to go up so that they can make more money”
Also speaking, a lady who chose to speak on condition of anonymity said the fuel issue was gradually normalizing, adding that transport fares were gradually returning to what it was.