Recently, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has issued a stern warning to Nigerians, particularly motorists, urging them to refrain from panic-buying in the wake of circulating reports about a potential surge in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol. The association has categorically denied any plans to increase the cost of the essential commodity and aims to allay the fears and concerns of the public. The initial speculation, which sent shockwaves across the nation, suggested that its prices might soar to as high as ₦1,200 due to difficulties in acquiring foreign exchange (FX) for importing the product. This alarming prospect triggered widespread outrage and apprehension among Nigerians already grappling with economic challenges.
Responding to the situation, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) swiftly moved to dispel the rumors on December 3rd, 2023. Mr. Olufemi Soneye, the spokesperson for NNPC Ltd., emphasized that there were no imminent plans to increase the price of PMS. He urged Nigerians to disregard unfounded rumors and reassured them that there is an ample supply of the product across the country. The NNPC also clarified that there was no friction with IPMAN, asserting that the subsidy on petrol had been completely removed months earlier, following President Bola Tinubu’s announcement.
PRO of the association denies the fact during TV appearance.
Mr. Okanlawon Olanrewaju, IPMAN’s PRO, addressed the situation a day later, providing further insight and clarification. He emphasized that independent fuel marketers had no intentions of raising fuel prices and assured the public that there were no signals from the NNPC indicating an imminent increase. “As far as the independent marketers are concerned, we don’t have plans or plans to increase fuel pump prices,” Olanrewaju stated on TV. “There is no basis for that for now. There is no signal from NNPC that we should increase. So, we cannot do that on our own except NNPC comes out and says we are going to increase pump price. On our own, there is nothing like that. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the public to stop panic buying. There is nothing like that,” he added, dispelling the notion of an impending fuel price increment as mere rumor.
To provide a more comprehensive understanding of the situation, it is essential to delve into the factors contributing to the initial speculations of a petrol price hike. The primary concern was linked to challenges in acquiring foreign exchange for importing petroleum products. The exchange rate fluctuations and limited access to foreign currency have long been cited as hurdles faced by oil marketers in ensuring a stable and affordable supply of petrol in the Nigerian market. The NNPC’s swift response aimed to quell public fears and reiterate the organization’s commitment to maintaining a steady supply of PMS at current prices.
Nigerians can worsen the situation with panic-buying.
The assurance that there was no clash with IPMAN and that the subsidy had been removed months ago underscored the government’s efforts to streamline the petroleum pricing system and eliminate uncertainties surrounding fuel costs. It is crucial to recognize the significance of petrol prices in Nigeria, where the majority of the population heavily relies on motor vehicles for transportation. Any hint of a price increase triggers concerns about its cascading effects on the cost of living, transportation costs, and the overall economic well-being of the citizens. Furthermore, the NNPC’s denial of a potential petrol price hike aligns with the government’s commitment to stabilizing the economy and ensuring the welfare of its citizens.
Panic-buying, prompted by speculative reports, can intensify the situation, leading to artificial scarcity and unnecessary fluctuations. The NNPC’s call for motorists to refrain from panic buying is not just a precautionary measure but also a strategic move to maintain order in the fuel supply chain. As the government and stakeholders in the oil and gas sector work to address the challenges posed by foreign exchange constraints, it becomes imperative to explore long-term solutions for sustaining a stable and affordable petrol market in Nigeria. This includes initiatives to enhance the local refining capacity, reduce dependence on imports, and implement effective policies that mitigate the impact of global economic fluctuations on the domestic fuel market.
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While concerns about potential petrol price hikes have been vehemently denied by both IPMAN and the NNPC, it is essential for the government to proactively address the underlying issues contributing to such speculations. Transparency in communication, coupled with strategic interventions to stabilize the forex market and strengthen local refining capacities, will play a pivotal role in ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of the commodity for the Nigerian populace. As the nation navigates through these challenges, cooperation between government agencies, industry stakeholders, and the public remains paramount in maintaining a resilient and sustainable energy sector.