At the end of February, 2021, dealers of petroleum products across the country had anticipated an increase in the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Daily Focus gathered.
However, the hope of the petrol dealers was dashed when the NNPC released a statement clarifying that there won’t be an increase in pump price and warned against hoarding and panic buying.
“The corporation was not contemplating any raise in the price of petrol in March in order not to jeopardize ongoing engagements with organized labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship,” said the statement, signed by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru.
The corporation further stated that it has enough stock of petrol to keep the nation well supplied for over 40 days and urged motorists to avoid panic buying.
It further called on relevant regulatory authorities to step up monitoring of the activities of marketers with a view to sanctioning those involved in products hoarding or arbitrary increase of pump price.
However, angered by the announcement, some unscrupulous petrol dealers and marketers shut down their stations and stopped selling petrol to members of the public, triggering a wave of panic buying.
Within just two days, fuel queues started appearing while the hoarders took advantage of the situation to hike their prices to between N170 and N180 per litre as against the average price of N162 per litre.
Members of the public had already began feeling the hardship as commercial vehicles increased their fares dramatically.
Mansur Musa a tricycle operator in Kano said the attempted hike in the price of petroleum had generated tension among them.
“We were in doubt as to what will happen if they increase the fuel price until when we discovered it was rumour. Because with increase in fuel now we will have to add our fees. People have been complaining and we started thinking of adding the prices,” he said.
Similary, Jamilu Kandamo, another tricycle operator said he had already increased his rate because it was communicated by some officials of their association that if fuel price was increased then definitely their prices too will go up.
He said many passengers had rejected the increment and protested that there was no increase as it was made clear by the NNPC.
On his part, Sani Nazifi, who owns a printing center said it won’t be easier had fuel price increased as things are going higher making them run their business at a low earning.
“Thank God that the NNPC did not add the price and it stated publicly and even worked against hoarding. Our business is very important but people don’t tolerate any hike in the prices. If the fuel go high it means we have to also charge more, but it didn’t,” he said.
But to further neutralize the network of fuel hoarders and unscrupulous marketers, the NNPC allocated more than 200 trucks of petrol to Kano, a move that immediately ended the artificial shortage.
Commending the efforts of the NNPC, Bashir Dan Malam, chairman of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Kano chapter, said the corporation allocated 160 trucks in just one day to resolve the emerging fuel queues.
“I am happy to announce that the NNPC has allocated no fewer than 160 trucks to Kano as part of measures to check the scarcity. This singular effort is worthy of commendation,” Mr DanMalam said.