•Says no justification for prohibitive pump prices
•Civil society shuts down Edo, demands reactivation of state petroleum monitoring unit
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) yesterday said there was no justification for the current high prices of petrol in the country, blaming marketers for creating what it termed artificial scarcity.
While empathising with Nigerians on the hardship currently being faced with the scarcity and the drastic hike in the price of petrol, the union stressed that if appropriate actions were not taken soon, it would announce the next line of action for its members.
In a statement released by PENGASSAN, it urged the industry regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to take drastic steps to halt the current trend.
“The national leadership of PENGASSAN has been following up with our members in NNPC Trading Limited who are responsible for assigning the products to marketers and our teeming members from NMDPRA in various depots and terminals across the country.
“They are also responsible for issuing cargo clearance, monitoring compliance, routine inspection, metering calibration/maintenance, accurate delivery to trucks, record keeping, etc. There is the need for them to carry out their functions expeditiously.
While we understand that the parameters imputed into the old PPPRA and now NMDPRA template has since changed because of some economic vagaries such as exchange rate fluctuation, vessel hiring cost and cost of diesel, amongst others, there is no sufficient justification for petrol to be selling for such highly inflated price, thereby subjecting the masses to further difficulties,” it stated.
PENGASSAN stated that even though there were some good marketers who tend to play by the rules, others have become overly overbearing.
It noted that these persons have deployed methods of creating artificial scarcity in order to hike the price of the product uncontrollably as the product now sells for between N185 to N650, depending on location and outlet.
“From data available to us from our members, there are over 30 days petrol sufficiency in the country; hence there is no basis for the current scarcity and hardship that Nigerians are being subjected to.
“We hereby call on the management of NMDPRA to compel all marketers and retailers to make the products available at approved price. They should immediately mobilise all their staff in various locations across the country to monitor compliance and anyone found wanting, should have their licenses revoked to serve as deterrence,” it added.
Should the collusion go on unchecked, PENGASSAN stated that will not hesitate to partner with other stakeholders in ensuring that Nigerians are not further exploited.
Meanwhile, civil society organisations in Edo State, yesterday, shut down the state in protest over scarcity and high cost of fuel in the state.
They pleaded with the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to reactivate the State Petroleum Monitoring Unit in order to curtail the astronomic rise of the commodity in the state.
The protesters who were made up of different civil society organisations, including Edo Civil Societies Organisation, Faculty of Peace, among others blocked the Ring Road, Sapele Road, Sakponba Road from traffic, singing solidarity songs.
Speaking, at the Edo State House of Assembly, the President, Faculty of Peace, Edo State, Ken Okunbo said: “From our investigation, major marketers are selling fuel in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and other cities, but in Edo State every fuel due to the state is diverted, the scarcity in Edo is hitting us hard.
We have a governor, we use to have monitoring unit, what is the governor doing? Before, when there is a problem, the monitoring unit will go into the street to unsure that marketers sell at prescribed prices.”
Also speaking, former Coordinator General, EDOSCO, Omobude Agho, said the citizens of the country have been taken for granted and have been constantly made to suffer untold hardship in the midst of abundance.
He said the recent hike in the petroleum pump price was anti-people, adding that Nigerians could no longer endure the present hardship
Agho said the prices of things have gone up while the minimum wage has remained stagnated.
“Fuel has become N700 and minimum wage is N30,000. Bag of rice is over N50,000 and the minimum wage is still N30,000.
“You cannot move from one point to another unless you are carrying a heavy budget and minimum wage remain the same. We think we can’t continue like this in this country and we are coming out to say Nigerians must take action,” Agho said.
The ex-coordinator general of EDOSCO hinted that from the look of things in the country, “it is now very obvious that the current leadership cannot provide the needed leadership the country requires, therefore, they should give room for those who can, to do so.”
“And if they know that they can’t provide leadership for the country, they should give room for those who can to provide leadership,” he said.
He maintained that the civil society organisations in the state would from this time henceforth take battle to those sabotaging the nation’s economy and causing untold hardship on the Nigerian citizens.
“All our economy saboteurs, in high and low places, we will fight them. Before, we say we will resist them but now, we will fight them.
“Anywhere you see black marketers, pursue them, and don’t pity them that they are poor. Anybody that is wicked whether poor or rich, is wicked.
“Anywhere we catch black marketers, we will seize the fuel, we will convert it and if you don’t have anything to do with the fuel, throw them away.
“So, when those at the black market don’t have the fuel, the filling stations will be forced to sell at the fixed price.
“And the filling stations that are selling above the federal government agreed price, we will begin to picket them.
“We know them and we know where they are and we shall get them. Our brothers and sisters are the ones working at these filling stations and we shall get them.
“Even those who are contesting elections that have filling stations, they are still part of the black marketers. Even those currently in government now, still join in the black marketing business. We shall get them,” he said.
Reacting, the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun said he shares with the concern of Edo People and promised to see that the message gets to the state governor.
“I can tell you that I share with your pain, because we members of the Edo State House of Assembly don’t have any fuel dump,” he declared.