Though attempts have been made to assure Nigerians that there are no plans to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly referred to as petrol, The PUNCH has gathered that the actual price at which the product should sell at filling stations is N151.87 per litre.
This “realistic” price is more than the maximum N145 per litre fixed by the Federal Government on May 11, 2016 when it liberalised the downstream oil sector, marketers with knowledge of the market and the pricing mechanism told one of our correspondents on Tuesday.
This, they said, was basically due to the continued scarcity of the United States dollar, adding that the true price of petrol was N151.87 litre, judging by the current ex-depot price of the commodity.
In Tuesday’s exclusive report by The PUNCH on a looming hike in petrol price, dealers explained that the ex-depot price of the product was N133.28 per litre and that the marketers were doing their best to manage the situation.
They stressed that the dollar hit an all-time high last week, as it exchanged for N400 at the parallel market, and called for urgent steps to address the situation in order to sell the PMS at the approved rates.
In a move to avert a price increase, it was learnt that the government conveyed a meeting of stakeholders in the downstream oil sector on Tuesday, which was held at the headquarters of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency in Abuja.
One of our correspondents gathered that participants at the meeting included officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the PPPRA, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners, as well as other concerned persons.
Explaining that the actual cost of the PMS had increased beyond the N145 per litre fixed rate, an oil dealer who attended the meeting stated that when the distribution margin for petrol was added to the ex-depot price, the real cost of the commodity was N151.87 per litre.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said, “Since the ex-depot price is around N133.5 per litre and the selling price is N145 litre, when you remove the ex-depot cost from the selling price, you’ll get about N12. Now, from this N12, consider the distribution margin and other costs from the depot; if all these costs are less than N12, then the marketers are making profits and there will be no complaint.
“But if the reverse is the case, then they have a complaint. I want you to find out what is the marketers’ margin, transporters’ margin, bridging fund, Petroleum Equalisation Fund, administrative charges and more. When you add all these together, you will realise that truly, the marketers are doing all they can to hold the pump price at the N145 per litre band.”
Investigations by our correspondents from the PPPRA showed that when the various costs highlighted by the oil dealer were added together, the result was a margin of N18.71. By adding this to the N133.5 ex-depot price, the final figure is N151.87.
For specifics on the distribution margin for every litre of petrol consumed across the country, retailers charge N6; transporters’ allowance is N3.36; bridging fund, N6.2; dealers’ charge, N2.36; marine transport average, N0.15; and admin charge, N0.3; making a total of N18.71.
When asked to state how the marketers had been coping and who is paying the extra considering the fact that some stations were even dispensing petrol at rates lower than N145 per litre, another dealer said, “We met with the government and we made it clear to them that the situation is precarious. The competition has made many of us do things that may be considered unusual in some sense, all in a bid to stay afloat.
“But for how long can this be sustained? The competition has made the marketers to come up with ingenious ways to source forex, which is why some stations still sell below the N145 per litre price in order to attract customers and make turnover in bulk. But the truth is that this is unhealthy and cannot be sustained.”
On the meeting between government officials and the marketers, a senior official of the Petroleum Resources ministry stated that the government might either subsidise the product again or consider some form of concession to the marketers with respect to the cost of the dollar.
The official said, “The issue of forex has been a challenge to both the government and the oil marketers. All of a sudden, the dollar skyrocketed to about N400 and the product we are concerned with here is an international product. So, if they are bringing in the product by buying dollar at N350, then it is obvious that they are really working hard to remain in business.
“For if we are in a truly deregulated market environment, then the price of the product should have increased beyond N145 per litre; there is no doubt about that. Meanwhile, there was a highly confidential meeting between the management of the PPPRA and stakeholders in the sector on this matter.
“I may not be able to tell you the resolutions that were reached concerning the issue of pricing of petroleum products, but the body language of those who participated in the meeting suggests that the government may be considering some form of concessions to the oil marketers as it did for the Muslim pilgrims. We all know that the government cannot afford to increase petrol price again, not at this time.”
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that he had not received any directive to increase petrol price.
He explained that the corporation had enough stock and that all was being done to meet the forex needs of the marketers.
However, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria have described the news of a looming increase in the pump price of petrol as unwelcome and worrisome.
The Chairman, NUPENG, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “It is a bad idea to say petrol price will increase again. Nigerians will not welcome any further increase. Truly, we saw the foreign exchange crumbling on daily basis, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.”
He said if the government could subsidise forex for pilgrims, it should also be prepared to subsidise whatever increase that would come from any crisis the marketers might be having concerning the fuel price.
Korodo said, “Government should not take us for a ride because nobody is going to take it the way the marketers are thinking.
“Marketers are telling us what the government is planning to do, because on their own, they cannot just increase the price. They are only playing the script of the government and we are not going to succumb to such blackmail.”
The Chairman, TUC, Rivers State Chapter, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said the government had made it clear that1 the price of petrol would not be more than N145 per litre.
He said, “And even at that point when the government made the agreement, we knew that it was making excess profits and it admitted to that fact. So, the government should be able to cushion the impact of the forex challenge marketers are facing.
“I think the government had an understanding with the marketers regarding the exchange rate that they will apply for importing their products.”
Onuegbu said it would be unfair to Nigerians for the price to be increased, adding, “We were told that at N145, things would be easy for the marketers.
“When they (marketers) were making super profits, they didn’t tell anybody. That was why as soon the price was increased, there was fuel in every filling station. The problem now is that they are not making as much profit as they used to make; therefore, they must punish Nigerians.”
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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