No plan to increase price of fuel – Presidency

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reacted to speculations of a possible increase in prices of premium motor spirit as a result of volatility in the forex market, saying no such plans exist.

The President spoke through his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale, on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, insisting that the deregulation policy has come to stay and would not be reversed as is being insinuated in some quarters.

Ngelale said: “The official position is that there is no increase in prices at this time and that Mr President is convinced, based on the information before him, that we can maintain current pricing without reversing our deregulation policy by swiftly cleaning up existing inefficiencies within the midstream and downstream petroleum sector.”

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had threatened on Monday, that it would commence a nationwide strike without prior warning if the Federal Government dared approve a further upward review of pump prices for fuel products.

NLC was reacting to the volatility in the forex market, where the US dollar was exchanging for N945, prompting notices from oil marketers of a possible hike.

The Presidency, however, confirmed that PMS consumption in the country had dropped from 67 million litres to 46 million litres per day.

It also alleged gross misconduct within the Central Bank of Nigeria, under the embattled former Governor, Godwin Emefiele, a development that is partly responsible for the crisis within the downstream oil sector today.

The presidential spokesman said the President is determined to maintain competitiveness within all sub-sectors of the petroleum industry.

According to Ngelale, Tinubu intends to ensure that policies drawn up as well as their implementation will not entrench a monopoly in the market

His words: “This morning, I have the privilege of sitting down with His Excellency President Bola Tinubu. As we discussed the current unfolding situation in the country as it relates to fuel supply and demand. The President wishes first to state that it is incumbent upon all stakeholders in the country to hold their peace. We have heard very recently from the organised labour movement in the country with respect to their most recent threat.

“We believe that the threat was premature and that there is a need on all sides to ensure that fact-finding and diligence is done on what the current state of the downstream and midstream petroleum industry is before any threats or conclusions are arrived at or issued.

“Secondly, Mr President wishes to assure Nigerians, following the announcement by the NNPC Limited just yesterday, that there will be no increase in the pump price of petroleum motor spirit anywhere in the country. We repeat, the President affirms that there will be no increase in the pump price of petroleum motor spirit.

“We also wish to affirm that the President is determined to maintain competitive tension within all subsectors of the petroleum industry. He is determined to ensure that our policy drawn up as well as policy implemented follows the cue that there will not be any single one entity dominating the market.”

The Presidency reminded Nigerians that the market has been deregulated and liberalised; hence, a steady movement forward in that direction without looking back.

He affirmed that there are presently inefficiencies within the midstream and downstream petroleum subsectors but maintained that government would swiftly address and clean up the sector to ensure that we can maintain prices where they are, without having to resort to a reversal of this administration’s deregulation policy in the petroleum industry.

Ngelale stated further: “I wish at this juncture to also provide a set of graphics which the President has authorised me to share with Nigerians that otherwise would be confidential. These are graphics supplied to Mr President by the NNPCL.

“In the graphic, what you will find is the present cost of refined petroleum motor spirit at the pump in each of the West African nations that neighbour us, and I’ll just name some for example, even as I know, you will be showing your audiences the graphics, which the President has graciously approved for public release today.

“Senegal at pump price today of N1,273 equivalent per litre, Guinea at N1,075 per litre, Côte d’ Ivore at N1,048 per litre equivalent in their currency, Mali N1,113 per litre, Central African Republic N1,414 per litre, Nigeria is presently averaging between N568 and N630 per litre.

“We are presently the cheapest, most affordable purchasing state in the West African sub-region by some distance. There is no country that is below N700 per litre.

“So this is the backdrop. At the inception of our deregulation policy on June 1, as Mr President took office, we have seen PMS consumption in the country drop immediately from 67 million litres per day down to 46 million litres per day consumption. The impact is evident.

“What it also does mean, though, is that we are not at the end of the tunnel. There is still a bit of darkness to travel through to get to the light. And we are pleading with Nigerians to please be patient with us. And as we promised from the beginning, we will be open with Nigerians and transparent with them.

“We are ready to show you exactly what it is that our nation is facing with respect to the illiquidity in the market in terms of foreign exchange as a result of what is now known to have been a gross mismanagement of the Central Bank of Nigeria over the course of several years preceding this time.”

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