Petrol Pump Price May Still Increase ConsiderablyArticles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Saturday, May 14th, 2016
By. Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
The recent increase in pump price of a litre of petrol from N 86. 50 to N145. 00 is not even a referendum on the new APC in government of Buhari but an index of institutional failure. The politicians are allowed to make any level of noise right now but they will eventually come down to the basic economic and natural forces. The refineries in the country, even if running at their full capacity, can only provide 40% of domestic consumption; but they are not working anywhere near 100% capacity. The successive Federal governments of Nigeria, for whatever reason, had always preferred the softest options and where public officials had been benefitting. If traders in Nigeria had been sourcing their own monies for whatever they had been importing let them also bring in refine oil from Togo, Benin Republic, Ghana or from China, New Zealand, or anywhere.
Secondly corruption is not only stealing from government treasuries or from the Central Bank but also putting dishonest and incompetent officials in the helms of government affairs. In particular governments have not been known as efficient investors or able to organise profitable ventures. It had been told in newspapers and on the TV that the presidency, of President Buhari, is not comfortable with the increase in petrol price. Their intention was not primarily profit making but attempting to break even or scare people away from petrol stations. They were embarrassed by the length of queues at every petrol station where the commodity was been sold near official price. This is what they have read and observed, together with the attendant issues the whole concept had generated. Following the words of our beloved Vice President, who is directly in charge of national interpises, the situation had become so bad that government could no longer shield the most poor from the worst effects of their policy even whilst president Buhari remains one of the most convinced pro-subsidy and pro – the – less – able people. We can only sympathise with them but we may not be able to trust them.
Why do we have a big lack of support on this issue for the government at the moment? One reasonable conclusion is that president Buhari did not win the election because APC campaigned on a better economic policy. No, APC campaigned with Buhari’s integrity at an individual level. He came in and the press became the only visible opposition. Those who used to call the order in old PDP are currently in hiding, and pretending not to be so. If only the press will tell the truth. If only the press will refused to be bought by money, or by fame and trying to look for public applause. If the campaign is about APC they will lose and if it was PDP it has lost already. PDP has a long war to fight and redeem itself and avoid a possible extinction.
Hitherto EFCC had been dormant and politicians called the organisation a toothless bulldog because they used them as the willed. Today they are becoming notorious, daring and dreadful. Those who are being drilled daily by elements of EFCC will tell you their endless sleepless nights. However, we condemn them for lack of independence, neutrality and inability to make convictions. Despite all the level of accusations they may pile up, most suspects have gone free, whereas in the court of public opinion those suspects deserve to take a 50-year jail term in Kiri Kiri, Oke Kura in Ilorin or some more famous prisons. Can this organisation see itself as people economic agent? We need to ensure that contracts are properly awarded and executed, that refineries are working and pileline vandalism reduced to minimum, and so on. The prices Nigerians are paying for unemployment, lack of electricity, lack of general infrastructure, high pump price of Petroleum, high food prices and other commodities, could be due to lack of organisation like EFCC to key in for the people. In a robust setting a President Buhari needs to be monitored by an EFCC just like everyone else.
In our society we notice that a growing percentage of Nigerians have more negative feelings toward the people in opposition (politics, religion or ethnicity) than the positive feelings toward their own group. This may explain the reason for religious, ethnicity or political differences rather than real differences. When Nigeria is confronted with a genuine economic problem opposition can easily use the situation for political or religious differences. The press should always attempt to tell the truth. If we dwell in negative campaign strategy the consequence is that such a negative campaign will only lead us deeper into the woods. When the depressions is over we would all have been sorry for following the wrong diagnosis. We need a collective mandate as well as an agreement about what we, as a people should do, or not do, together to make ours a truly national family, where everyone has a place at the table, and where the strong are just and the weak are secure. We need to work together, even as a multi part state, working together with truth as our template. This is where our so called religion and ethics have a place.
Hence if any one tells you that the price of petrol in Nigeria will soon be reduced, please don’t listen to them. The decision taken by the presidency that led to an overnight 68% increase in price might have been the best even for the weak segments of the society but the necessary other steps needed to ensure that the price will henceforth stabilise, or down, have not even been considered. We can completely allow market forces to run the commodities and government to depend on value taxes. Government might also have allowed itself time to see more refineries operating before it abandoned the very people it came to save from brute capitalists. Whatever way, the time chosen coincided with low oil prices world over but low value of the domestic currency. When the international oil price is up again (say by December 2016) and the domestic currency becomes stronger (also say by 1st quarter 2017) then what happens? In Nigeria the unwritten rule is that whatever goes up never comes down. This is why we think that the increase in petrol Pump Price is only on its continuation journey.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi
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