The Nigerian government has announced a reduction in the fuel price of petrol from N97 per litre to N87 per litre.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said at a press conference at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Sunday that the new price regime would take effect at midnight today.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke said the N10 reduction in fuel price was necessitated by the reduction in crude oil prices in the international market.
The Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency [PPPRA] and the Department of Petroleum Resources [DPR] have been asked to enforce strict compliance with the new pricing regime as soon as it becomes effective, the minister said.
The new measure is a reversal of government’s policy on the matter.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had insisted on December 17 that Nigeria would not reduce the pump price of fuel despite falling oil prices at the international market, until the revenue crisis occasioned by the dwindling oil rates is over.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said at the time that the decision to review fuel price either upwards or downwards would only be taken after the current crisis in global oil prices had been settled.
But five days ago, on December 13, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, called on the government to implement immediate price reduction on fuel products to reflect the downscaling in global oil prices.
Speaking through his campaign organization, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Buhari asked the government to “stop stealing from Nigerians and allow them enjoy the relief that has come to consumers of petroleum products globally”.
The APC candidate had said, “The price of diesel which has been deregulated since 2009 still sells at the pump price of N150 and N170 per litre, the same pump price when the international benchmark per barrel of crude was over $100. Now that the international benchmark has dropped to $47.5 (USD) per barrel as at Monday, we ask: where is the deregulation and the relief which it ought to bring to local consumers of diesel?
“For the Nigerian consumers, unfortunately the collapse of crude oil price since October 2014 has not translated into any change in diesel, kerosene and PMS prices across the country.
“We challenge the federal government to reconcile the information on the website of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, indicating the maximum open market price of diesel per litre in December 2014 as being at N111.6 and the fact that the price has come down to less than $50 (USD) as at Monday.
“We want to posit that that the maximum indicative benchmark open consumers of diesel should pay is at a margin below N100 per litre. Therefore, Nigerians are being short-changed by about N50 to N70 on every litre of diesel sold by government.”
The Trade Union Congress [TUC] had earlier on January 5 asked the government to take advantage of the falling oil prices to reduce retail prices of petroleum products.
The TUC had argued that the best time to review the retail pump price of petrol was now, in line with the argument put forward by government in 2012 when the price was adjusted from N70 per litre to N97.
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