Petrol consumers have been condemning the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCLtd) over arbitrary hike in the price of the product across the country.
The consumers decried the disparity in the price of petrol, which is a sharp departure from the old practice when the product sold at the same price at all filling stations.
Independent marketers had since last year declared they would not be able to match the pump price of major marketers because of operational logistics. So while retail NNPCLtd filling stations and other major marketers like Total sell at N169-N179 per litre in Lagos and N174-N180 in Abuja, independent marketers have been selling at prices ranging from N250 per litre to N500, depending on the state.
The Federal government has been battling to peg petrol price by subsidising payments, and has earmarked N3.6 trillion in the 2023 budget for the first half of the year.
In December 2022, the group chief executive officer of NNPCLtd, Mele Kyari, said that without subsidy, the actual pump price would be N410 per litre.
To drivers, the prevailing rates are as expensive as make no difference.
“I do inter-state travel as a commercial bus driver. I buy fuel for N380 in Owerri, the Imo State capital, and N285 in Enugu. In Kogi, it is a different price. You can only get the normal price of N179 and N180 at NNPCLtd-owned filling stations,” a driver told The ICIR.
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A commercial motorcycle rider in Enugu municipality, Onyemaechi Onyebuchi, pointed out that to obtain petrol at cheaper prices is always a hard task because of long queues, and even unavailability almost always, whereas independent marketers don’t always have long queues, with fuel always available.
For the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice Eze Onyekpere, helpless consumers in states where prices are higher are already accustomed to the situation.
“Go to many southeastern states, they have moved on from this subsidy issue. In Owerri, we are buying at N300 per litre,” Onyekpere said.
The ICIR checks showed that fuel sells for between N350 and N500 per litre in most filling stations in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and in Abuloma, Woji, Elelenwo and parts of Aba Road.
Reacting to the development, the chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Rivers State, Joseph Obele, attributed the hike in fuel price to the landing cost of petrol in the country.
Obele said it would be unrealisable for even government to sell fuel at N165 per litre when landing cost is over N500 per litre.
“There is no uniform buying source for us marketers. Some of us (marketers) are buying from Lagos, where depot price ranges from N280 to N310 per litre. The only depot that was selling in Rivers State has run out of stock. It’s quite unfortunate that Nigerians are made to be experiencing this,” he said.
Kyari said marketers, the independent ones especially, would rather sell at places with price differentials to make gains.
“We don’t have supply problems. We have distribution challenges, and the distribution challenges are coming as a result of price differentials.
“Some marketers take products from where prices are low to where they are high. This is what is spiking price. We are working with partners and marketing companies to ensure proper balance sheet,” Kyari said.
The president of the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PPROOAN), Billy Gilly Harry, said the government would gradually need to phase out subsidy to address these concerns.
Harry stressed that the rising cost of moving products from one point to the other is also influencing price hike.
“The marketers need to be in business and logistics cost remains a source of worry to them.