Fuel queues have resurfaced in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ondo State while Stakeholders have also expressed diverse views over President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pledge on removal of petrol subsidy while presenting his inaugural speech on Monday in Abuja.
The President had hinted that one of his major moves would be removal of subsidy on petroleum products as there was no provision for subsidy in the national budget from June 2023.
However, industry stakeholders have expressed diverse views on his pronouncement even as fuel queues resurfaced in filling stations shortly after his address.
Speaking with the Tribune Online on the development, the National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr. Chinedu Ukadike said the announcement was sudden adding that the development could lead to profiteering.
He said:”…I also believe that the new government should have conducted an investigation to be able to know if Nigeria is actually subsidizing products or not because this announcement is abrupt and triggers profiteering.
“If you are not sure of where you are buying your next petroleum product and the rate it will be supplied to you, you will be very economical to be able to dispense.”
He noted that although subsidy removal was imminent, the process to achieving this should also be considered.
“We know that subsidy is imminent but the process of subsidy should also be considered and also knowing clearly that Nigeria is dependent on petrol importation and domestic goods and services are triggered by Petroleum products.
“So that announcement on the removal of fuel subsidy by Mr. President is sudden because we at IPMAN believe that in line with our discussion with him, he would have looked at the system and be able to engage Stakeholders and address the system once and for all,” he said.
Ukadike further noted that the pronouncement might also being a warning to Nigerians on what to expect saying:”His pronouncement on the removal of subsidy does not remove fuel subsidy because factors on the removal of subsidy as opined by the Federal Government and oil marketers have not been met.
“We all agreed that before removal of subsidy the about three or four refineries in the country should be efficient and working. Dangote refinery should have come upstream, the modular refineries must also be encouraged to be able to cushion the heavy dependence of Nigeria on importing fuel from foreign countries.”
On his part, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law said there was no better time to make such pronouncements.
According to him, this was one of the campaign promises of other presidential candidates at the elections.
“If he doesn’t do this now, then that is the end! We can’t continue the way it is. We have come to an exponential point where we don’t have a choice. In the last election all the leaders, both Obi, and Atiku all said they will remove subsidy because that is the best thing to do.
“NNPCL in the last two years has not remitted a dime to the national treasury and we are spending our little foreign exchange to import fuel. The country is bleeding, that is why this subsidy has to go . Though it will be hard, we have gotten to a level where we just have to survive,” he added.
Meanwhile, upon Tinubu’s announcement on subsidy removal on his resumption of office as President of Nigeria, it was speculated that fuel queues returned to Abuja filling stations.
A survey of filling stations in Abuja revealed that some filling stations were not selling because they were out of product.
One of the staff who spoke to Tribune Online on condition of anonymity at a filling station in Karshi, disclosed that they were not dispensing because their product was not available.
In another filling station in the Nyanya area of Abuja, it was gathered that fuel was last dispensed for almost three days.
In Garki, Area 11, Total filling station, near Force Headquarters, was dispensing normally at the official rate.
In NIPCO filling station, in Lugbe area of Abuja, car owners were fueling their vehicles normally.
There were however no signs of fuel queues.
Most of the fuel stations are under lock and key while the few ones who are selling the product were filled up with vehicles
The development caused traffic gridlock and most of the filling stations selling fuel are selling between N200 and N250.
It was noticed that most of the fuel stations selling fuel to the public were owned by major marketers, while most of the independent stations were closed and not selling the product
Most of the motorists lamented that the development is just too early and called for the review of the subsidy removal.
The motorists expressed fear that the removal of the subsidy will add to the economic hardship being experienced in the country.