Marketers of petroleum products under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) have called for a joint action of stakeholders in the Nigeria economy to find ways to mitigate adverse effects of the imminent increase in the price of petrol.
The national oil company also reiterated that there will be no increment in the ex-depot price of petrol in February 2021 in spite of the rise in the price of crude oil in the international market.
This was disclosed in a press release by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, on Thursday.
The statement explained that the decision was to “allow ongoing engagements with organised labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship, to be concluded”.
NNPC urged petroleum products marketers not to engage in hoarding of products in order not to create artificial scarcity and unnecessary hardship for Nigerians.
The NNPC gave the assurance that it has enough stock of petrol to keep the nation well supplied for about 40 days.
It further called on relevant regulatory authorities to step up monitoring of the activities of marketers with a view to sanctioning those involved in products hoarding or arbitrary increase of pump price.
According to the government, the nation’s downstream sector was deregulated in March 2020 with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, stating that the prices of petroleum products would be determined by prevailing market forces.
The 11Plc boss said with a fully deregulated downstream industry, the natural fear and anticipation of Nigerians was the increase in the price of transportation, food items and the attendant economic hardships.
According to Oyebanji, “Solutions to these challenges can only emanate from a collective resolve by all stakeholders to face these challenges together.
“We must, as a country, debate and share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to mitigate the impact of a pump price increase, which could follow a fully deregulated downstream.”
He added: “MOMAN is calling for a national discourse among all stakeholders, including government, labour, civil society organisations, the organised private sector and operators, not on the merits or demerits of petrol subsidy removal, but on the initiatives that can be taken to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on the most vulnerable in our society.
“MOMAN remains committed to the sustainability and institutionalisation of a viable downstream petroleum industry for the social and economic growth of our country, Nigeria.”
Oyebanji said the association stands with Nigeria and Nigerians through difficult time, and supports the federal government’s promise to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) this year and fully deregulate the petroleum downstream sector.
He pointed out that the benefit of a liberalised downstream was the most visible means of growing the economy in the medium to long term.
Oyebanji, however, harped on the need for participants in the fuel supply chain, both operators and regulators, to demonstrate cost optimisation in every practical and public way possible.
On the need to boost domestic refining capacity, he stated that even though refining would not start in Nigeria immediately, as a result of catalogue of diverse and varied reasons, it was necessary that as a country, Nigeria should have some clarity as to when optimal internal refining capacity would return to the country.