Wednesday’s approval of N51.58 as ex-depot price for a litre of petrol by the Petroleum Pricing Marketing Company (PPMC) has pitted the Federal Government against the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives also kicked against the upward adjustment as marketers adjusted pump price from N148 to between N158 and N162 per litre.
But the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) defended the policy reminding the PDP that the pricing template reflects competitive and market-driven components, which it said enjoys the backing of Nigerians.
The APC urged the PDP to prevail on its members who looted the public till treasury to return their loots.
In a statement by its spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan, the PDP rejected the latest increase in litre price of fuel and the increase in electricity tariff which came into effect on September 1.
The party, which described the new price regime as callous and cruel, demanded the immediate reversal of the prices. It warned the increase will push up costs of goods and services and worsen Nigerians economic situation.
The statement said: “Our party asserts that by increasing the price of fuel from the N87 per litre it sold under the PDP to an excruciating N151 while at the same time allowing the hike in electricity tariff from N30.23 per kwh to over N66, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has left no one in doubt that its agenda is to inflict pain and hardship on Nigerians to satisfy their selfish interests.
“The unjustifiable increase in the price of these essential supplies, coming barely a week after the APC brazenly posted a support for fuel price hike, while attempting to rationalise the excruciating hardship being suffered by Nigerians under the Buhari administration, has further confirmed that the APC is at the centre of the harsh policies of the Buhari Presidency.
“It is distressing that the APC administration increased the cost of essential commodities at the time the leadership of other countries are offering palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The party expressed shock that such upward adjustments got the government approval “at this trying time, when many Nigerians are struggling to afford staple foods and other necessities of life”.
It challenged the APC-led administration to justify fuel price hike, saying that with the prevailing values in the international market, the appropriate template for domestic pump price in Nigeria ought not to be above N100 per litre.
The PDP also demanded the details of the oil subsidy regime, nothing that the Federal Government had failed to allow unfettered investigation into allegations of fuel price overcharge and alleged sharp practices in the subsidy regime.
The APC berated the PDP over the latter’s unguided criticism of the current petrol price and electricity tariff in the country.
It urged the PDP to wake up to the new Nigeria were the government works for the citizens not a few interests.
Reacting through Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena, the APC described the pricing template as a reflection of competitive and market-driven components.
Nabena said: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to a shameless statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the current petrol price and electricity tariff in the country.
“For successive PDP governments that foisted on the country a corruption-tainted fuel subsidy regime, we call on the PDP to surprise itself and indeed Nigerians by cajoling its cronies who ran the subsidy rackets – many of them in hiding abroad – to return our stolen commonwealth in their possession.
“Under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the tortuous fuel queues as a result of biting scarcities are gone. The reviewed petroleum products pricing template has resulted in a more transparent, efficient and realistic pricing system for petroleum products and also resulted in constant availability of fuel nationwide.
“The pricing template now reflects competitive and market driven components which is supported by the citizenry.”
On the new electricity tariff regime, the APC said: “In an effort by this administration to put an end to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity, President Buhari recently directed a nationwide mass metering programme for electricity consumers in the country.
“For the PDP that is only concerned with pushing the interests of its few cronies over the general interest and welfare of the citizenry, we don’t expect the PDP to grasp the import of this landmark presidential directive which aside improving electricity and service delivery, is also protecting the poor and vulnerable Nigerians from increased electricity tariff and arbitrary/estimated billings.
“Commendably, the federal government is already working to ensure that electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) commit to increasing the number of hours of electricity supply every day and also improve on their quality of service.
“Perhaps the PDP is also unaware, that the current administration has approved a one-year waiver of import levy on electricity meters, so that Nigerians who do not have meters can be supplied as early as possible at a reasonable cost.”
Already, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives kicked against the PPMC decision.
The lawmakers, in a statement by Minority Leader Ndidu Elumelu, described the increment as unacceptable, warning it will result in increase in the already high cost of consumer goods and services, and worsen the current economic hardship being suffered by Nigerians.
Elumelu said: “The minority caucus in the House of Representatives, rejects the announced increase in the pump price of fuel.
“This is because such increase will directly result in more hardship on our citizens, particularly at this critical time when majority of Nigerians, across the country, are struggling to survive under the burden of high cost of living and low purchasing power occasioned by the prevailing economic challenges.
“Any increase in the cost of essential commodity like fuel will therefore bring more hardship to the people and as such should not be contemplated.”
The opposition lawmakers challenged the APC-led government to rather come up with strategies that will lead to decrease rather than increase in the cost of domestic fuel.
The minority caucus asked the PPMC to rescind its announcement and revert to the former price with a view of a downward review.