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Senate Backs FG on  New Fuel Price, Urges Speedy Implementation of Palliatives

Ayodele Afolabi,  Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Senate on Tuesday gave the Federal Government tactical support on recent hike of fuel price across the country, just as it sympathized  with Nigerians on attendant hardships being faced as a result of the action.

Pump price of petrol was last week Wednesday increased by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency ( PPPRA) from N86.50 per liter to N145 on behalf of the Federal Government which had generated tension in the polity with organized Labour threatening showdown with the government.

However,  the Senate after its closed door session on the matter which lasted over an hour, gave Federal government tactical support for the action by urging it to immediately start implementing palliatives measures contained in the 2016 Appropriation Act to cushion effects of the fuel price increase.

It also called on the Federal Government to continue  to engage the organised labour and other stakeholders to resolve issues in other not ground the system and impose more hardships on the Nigerian masses.

Senate’s resolutions at the session as announced by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenadu, reads: ” The Senate in a closed session deliberated on the increase in the pump price of PMS by the Federal Government and the threats by the organised Labour to embark on a nationwide strike over the matter and resolved as follows.

“That we sympathise with ordinary people of Nigeria on the hardships they are going through, the senate will engage the federal government to find sustainble ways of improving the welfare of the people of Nigeria.

“That we call on government to continue to engage the organised labour and other stakeholders to resolve issues in other not ground the system and impose more hardships on our people.

“That government should immediately stand implementing palliatives or palliative measures contained in the 2016 appropriation act passed by the National Assembly”.

However the  Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media  and Public Affairs, Senator Murray Ben Bruce, at a media briefing declared that the problem at hand was caused by lack of thinking by people in government.

He said what government supposed to be subsidizing over the years in Nigeria as practiced in other countries of the world, is cost of transportation and not the price of fuel.

According to him, no citizen of South Africa, Sweden and United Kingdom , knows what a liter of fuel cost in his/ her country but the cost of transportation from one place to the other which are highly subsidized and regulated by government.

He specifically declared that what Nigeria needs is mass transit policy with a regulatory agency.

His words: “Here is the fundamental question, everybody in Nigeria knows the price of fuel but if you go to London or you visit London nobody knows the price of petrol in London, nobody knows the price of petrol in South Africa, nobody knows the price of petrol in Sweden. What you know is the price of transportation that is all that matters.

“Here is my argument, diesel is deregulated, cost of products should not increase. If the FG has a mass transit policy and all of us here go by bus and it cost you N200 to go to work and you deregulate and it still cost you N200 to go to work nobody will protest. If it cost you N500 to catch a taxi before deregulation and after deregulation it cost you N500 nobody will complain.

“The problem here is, the government is selling the wrong argument. The argument is not the price of petrol, the argument is the cost of transportation. So, the minister of labour and productivity, the minister of transport, the minister of petroleum resources should sit in a room and come up with a mass transit policy like they have in other parts of the world with a regulatory authority.

“In other words if a bus owner generates N10,000 a week and you deregulate and you increase the price to N20, 000, if the federal government says I won’t give N10, 000 I will give you a cheque N5000 and I have done the calculations across the country and it will cost the government for every single city in Nigeria less than N100 billion versus the N1.2 trillion Nigeria spent subsidising petrol”

He added by appealing to the Federal government to start negotiation with the Niger Delta militants over recent attacks on oil facilities in their region which had unfortunately brought about drastic drop in daily oil production from about 2million barrel per day to 1.2million now.

“We are suffering already I am begging, i am appealing to the government to please negotiate, sit down and have a conversation with the militants in the Niger Delta and guess what,  a conversation is free of charge and it doesn’t cost more to have a conversation unlike military action”, he said.


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