The All Progressives Congress has accused the Federal Government of “making a show out of deceit by its so-called fuel price reduction”, saying a 10.3 per cent slash in the price of petrol (from N97 to N87) is “a mere tokenism at a time the price of crude oil has crashed by about 60 per cent”.
In a statement in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the pump price of a litre of fuel should not be more than N70, meaning that at “N87 per litre, the government is forcing Nigerians to subsidise the massive corruption in the oil sector by N17” for every litre of the product purchased.
APC stated, “When crude oil was selling at $100 per barrel, the landing cost of PMS without subsidy was 125 Naira per litre. Now that the oil price has crashed to about $44 per barrel, the landing cost without subsidy is about N65 per litre. The same goes for diesel, which should not sell for more than N90 per litre”.
The party added that while governments of countries, which are not as economically endowed as Nigeria, had as early as January 2015 reduced the pump price of fuel, Nigeria, which is the world’s sixth largest producer of oil, was “just announcing a price slash” that was far below those countries.
“Early this year, Zambia slashed the price of petrol by 23 per cent while Tanzania reduced the pump price of the product by 16 per cent. In the US, which, until recently, was importing crude oil from Nigeria, the price of fuel has fallen for 113 consecutive days as of January 16. Therefore, the 10.3 per cent price slash in Nigeria is too meagre, too late”, the party said.
According to the opposition party, the real reasons that the Federal Government had delayed slashing the price of imported petroleum products, following the crash in crude oil prices, were the massive corruption in the oil sector and lack of political will on the part of the country’s leadership.
APC added, “With Nigeria depending on importation of petroleum products to meet about 90 per cent of its domestic consumption, the country is relying heavily on the term contracts entered into with petroleum product trading companies to meet its domestic demand. It is possible that the petroleum products pricing formulas embedded in these contracts, which generally run for up to one and a half and in some cases two years, have not anticipated these low prices.
“Therefore, unless the government moves to renegotiate the contracts now, it may not reap the full benefits of the decline in petroleum prices. But here is the catch: Since the government and its agents have skimmed off huge ‘commissions’ from the firms with which the term of contracts were signed, it could not possibly go back and renegotiate those contracts or go into new forward contracts that will reflect the current reduction in crude oil prices.
“It takes a strong willed, determined and transparent leadership to immediately call in the petroleum products contracts for re-negotiation, as this will represent a huge blow to corruption in the sector since clearly ‘commissions’ would have been paid by petroleum product traders on the existing contracts.
“This explains the token reduction in fuel price, which the government must have hoped will fool an unsuspecting public, especially a few weeks to elections”.
The party also wondered why the PDP-led federal government had to wait for a widely-publicized call from the APC Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, and some other concerned Nigerians before doing what the government of other countries in Africa and elsewhere around the world have already done: slash the price of petroleum products commensurate with the fall in crude oil prices.
The party, therefore, called on the PDP federal government to immediately slash the price of petrol further to 70 Naira per litre and the prices of diesel and kerosene to nothing more than 90 Naira per litre each way, and stop stealing from Nigerians, who it noted have been pauperized by the ruling party’s bad record of governance since 1999.