Nigeria’s two foremost unions in the oil and gas sector, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) employees, have expressed conflicting views on the slight reduction in the pump price of petrol.
The Federal Government had announced a reduction in the price of petrol by N1 per litre at filling stations being run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and N0.5 at outlets of independent marketers.
The implication is that from January 1, 2016, the commodity will be sold at N86 per litre in NNPC-run stations and N86.5 per litre in other market outlets.
While PENGASSAN said it did not understand what the government meant by the reduction, NUPENG, on the other hand, described the development as encouraging but wondered if it could be sustained.
The National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Mr. Emmanuel Ojugbana, revealed that the association was yet to understand the reason why the government reduced the pump price of petrol.
Mr. Ojugbana said, “We don’t understand what that means, i.e. the reduction of fuel price from N87 to N86 and N86.5 per litre. Is it that subsidy has been removed or that the price was reduced because of the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market? Will the reduction stop the sale of petrol at over N120 per litre in some places in this country? There are a lot of things that need to be made clear, not just to come out and announce that petrol price has been reduced.
“So, we have told the government that all stakeholders need to be engaged for us to have proper understanding of what the direction of the oil and gas industry actually is. For this association, we have yet to understand clearly the government’s direction on this fuel price issue. They need to engage stakeholders to explain the basis for the price reduction. How many filling stations even sell at the current price? In fact, there are a lot of issues that we need clarification on.”
Speaking for NUPENG, the South-West Chairman, Mr. Tokunbo Korodo, asserted that the government should be supported, but was quick to state that it must fashion out ways to ensure the sustainability of the reviewed petrol prices.
Mr. Tokunbo said, “We can see that this government, particularly in the oil and gas sector, means business, unlike what we experienced in the past. Before now, we used to kick against deregulation because we didn’t believe in the sincerity of the past governments. The system has changed, therefore, the government should be given a chance to see if it will maintain the integrity it claims to have. If Nigerians can buy fuel at a lower price, it is going to be a welcome development. But what we need is sustainability of that price and the availability of the product.”
While Nigerians may not be ready to absorb the fluctuations or modulations in the pump price of the product beginning from next year, some marketers maintain that it is possible to sell Premium Motor Spirit at a reduced price,
The Corporate Affairs Manager, Nipco Plc, an oil marketing firm, Mr. Taofeeq Lawal, had said, “It is possible, but the issue that the government needs to understand is that should there be fluctuations in price, will Nigerians be ready to absorb them?