The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, says it received with great shock and consternation the news of the increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit known as ‘petrol’ from N121 to N143.
The increase, according to reports, is consequent upon a “monthly review meeting” by the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
Referring to a statement released by the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Saidu Abdulkadir, purportedly on June 28, 2020, NLC said the PPPRA contradicted itself when it said that the latest price increase described as an “advisory” was meant to regulate a product that government claims had been deregulated.
It further explained, “That this new hike in the pump price of petrol was announced without the approval of the board of the PPPRA and the oversight ministry speaks volumes of the arbitrariness and public contempt in the operations of PPPRA. We find this deeply disturbing.”
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, described the statement as very embarrassing that the PPPRA boss while trying to defend the indefensible appeared to be out of sorts and ready to clutch at any available straws to sell his “ice block merchandise” to “Eskimos”.
Apart from contradicting himself that PPPRA is still trying to regulate a deregulated product through “advisories”, the statement added that the PPPRA went on to exert more nails on the coffin of his own polemics when he argued that PPPRA was just like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) that would always act to protect the public interest.
“That was how far the niceties went. The rest of the statement by the PPPRA boss, as reproduced in the excerpts below, was about how PPPRA plans to protect investors and increase their profit,” the statement further explained.
It noted that while the Market-Based Pricing Regime is a policy introduced to free the market of all encumbrances to investment and growth, it should not be misconstrued as to mean a total abdication of government’s responsibility to the sector and citizenry.
It added that the new pricing regime would encourage oil marketers to resume the supply of petrol, leading to further value creation in the downstream, foster job creation and ensure reasonable returns to investors.
NLC noted that it is unfortunate that Mr. Saidu Abdulkadir did not even feign pretense that government has abdicated its responsibility to protect Nigerians from the cut-throat tendencies of neoliberal market forces.
Contrary to the provisions of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution, PPPRA claims that the abdication is not ‘total’, it said the statement by the PPPRA is juxtaposed with the recent killer electricity charges unveiled by DISCOs, Nigerians cannot help but feel the heat of a potent threat to run millions of Nigerians under, stressing that it is even worse that this is coming at a time when our people are living on the precipice of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement observed, “Nigerians would recall that the last downward review in the price of petrol was at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. The economic benefits of the so-called “downward” review was hardly enjoyed by ordinary Nigerians who were mostly indoors. Just as the lockdown is being eased out and as soon as the inter-state travel ban was lifted, the government decided to hike the petrol price. Nigerian people and workers are forced to interpret this move as grand mischief and deceit.”