Fuel Price Wahala

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By Dr. Uche Diala 👇

I was called out this morning by folks who said as I have not said anything about the fuel price hike.

First I asked, was there really a “fuel price hike”? What I know is that there have been adjustments and fluctuations in the price of petrol due to market forces which is in line with the partial deregulation of the sector. Therefore it is technically wrong to call it a price ‘hike’

Interestingly when there is a downward fluctuation or adjustment in petrol price since this partial deregulation started (and there have been a few), no one talks about it. It doesn’t make the headlines. Most times, the gas stations do not adjust their meters downwards accordingly. But once they hear even a rumor of a higher price, they quickly adjust their meters, even though it was stock they got at a lower price.

That said, the worst people to engage are people who know the truth and pretend not to know. The other group are people who are willfully ignorant or whose minds have been closed for whatever reason(s). Whatever you say, don’t make any sense to these groups of people because they have willfully and deliberately suspended their sense of reason and rational thought.

I do not have much to say on this though, just to say, PPPRA is an independent body which has its functions clearly spelt out. It will not shirk its responsibility because some adults are sulking like spoilt babies. PPPRA designs a template which is based on landing cost of petrol plus other factors, which further depend to a large extent on the price of crude on the international market.

Why did we even still need the PPPRA in the first place after we partially deregulated the downstream sector? Because our shylock fuel merchants and independent marketers would have cut the throats of Nigerians. Government understood this. Market forces do not control anything in Nigeria by the way because of the greed and wickedness of players in every sector (all of us by the way).

The government on the other hand has the masses to think about so it has had to step in from time to time. This explains what some people have seen as confusion or conflict. But is that really true? Since the government has decided not to be paying subsidies on petrol any longer, it has to look at other ways of cushioning the effect on the masses. That was why the NNPC came up with the idea of bridging the difference between the actual landing costs and the pump price we buy from its profit margin. That is it takes part of its profit to cushion what would have been an otherwise harsh effect on the masses paying the full price.

But is it sustainable? For how long will we do that and postpone the dooms day? Especially as it does seem that many of us citizens do not even appreciate that. That is why I have said that we need the ‘cold turkey’ treatment in Nigeria. Let us do what we must do and get it over with once and for all.

Successive administrations have lied to us and papered over issues, giving us a false sense of comfort or everything is okay. We have been enjoying it not knowing that we have merely been postponing the dooms day. That is why some of us are still wailing and transmitting like we are still in a trance or la la land of the past.

I really pity those of us who have stayed stuck in the past and caustic politics and refused to wake up and smell the coffee. Nigeria is already headed in the path that it ought to have gone long time and in many respects. The path that many other serious and advanced nations have walked to get where they are today – the difficult, tedious, painful but necessary path to seriousness. Buhari in all his imperfection is taking us down that arduous but necessary path now. That is why he is getting all the flaks but we must go down that path. If we don’t today, we must still do it tomorrow or someday. Or we remain the way we are.

Interestingly

We want Deregulation but we do not know what it really means, neither are we ready to do or take what it takes.

We want Restructuring and Or True Federalism.
Yet we do not know what it really means and what it entails. That it also includes holding our respective State Governors, state and local governments responsibile and accountable for some of our woes.

We want Privatization and Deregulation of the Power sector.
Yet we do not know or pretend not to know what it entails. That it will definitely mean paying more for electricity for instance.

Our brethren residing in ‘saner climes’ like the US know exactly how it works there. They are used to it. Yet some of them will be throwing fireworks into Nigeria, deceiving and misleading the uniformed.

America is one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, if not the largest. How much is a gallon or a litre of petrol sold in the US? Why are they not giving it for free?
Someone can tell me about higher minimum wage and better earning power. I agree but how much is a gallon of gas there and what controls that price?
Is it the earning power of Americans or the dynamics of the international oil market? Why and how is our own case different? Why do we love to deceive ourselves? Yet we want to be like America.

Some one said Buharists are quiet and I laughed at his lack of understanding. Only a fake or confused Buharists will make noise about fluctuations in pump price of petrol. Because we campaigned for it. We wanted the sector deregulated so that government will not be spending money meant for infrastructure on petrol subsidies, most of which are stolen anyways. So we knew what it would entail. And we are not complaining. Not because it is easy but because it is what it is.

Make no mistake, this is not defense of the government or Buhari. It is just common sense by someone who has made it a duty to be well informed about issues, understand the situation on ground and to be sincere to himself. Thank God I buy fuel from the public filling station like every one else. Buhari does not give me free petrol.

What do I even know? But I know that when we are ready, even America will know.

@Uche Diala

NB: This discourse is totally different from that of selling a litre of fuel N212 when it should be N163.

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