The National Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) has called on Nigerian energy regulatory authorities, and indeed the federal government to put an end to the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, the group called on all relevant government agencies in the downstream sector to collaborate in arresting the prevailing chaos in the fuel market.
The body of energy editors in Nigeria lamented that the development has brought untold hardship to Nigerians and man-hour loss which ought to have been put into productive ventures but wasted at filling stations. While long queues persisted at stations now selling at N185 per litre in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, other marketers have started to take advantage of the situation, causing untold hardship to Nigerians.
While black marketer operators have had a field day, smiling to the banks at the detriment of helpless Nigerians, oil marketers, both independent and majors, have hiked their pump prices for the second time in less than sixty days.
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The lowest price for the product outside Abuja and Lagos, in is now N350 per litre from N175 per litre sold two months ago. The low-price band for the product, before this, was N165 per litre.
A major calamity is that most independent petroleum marketers’ and retail outlets have adjusted their pump machines in such a way it is actually difficult to know what a customer from the pump.
The development, according to the association, portends grave implications for the already weakened purchasing power and income of the average Nigerian.
The group notes that the resultant high cost of petrol is impacting the daily cost of living as seen in transportation costs, energy costs as many homes continue to rely on alternative sources of power due to the poor supply from the grid as well as in high cost of goods and services.
Though marketers have attributed the present petrol queues across the country to exceptionally high demand and bottlenecks in the fuel distribution chain, it is however clear that the distribution value-chain is broken and worsened by a weak regulatory system.
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We observe that the major arguments advanced by both government agencies and market players for the lingering fuel scarcity include logistics, price regulation and domestic energy subsidy. However, we also note that energy subsidy is a normal and effective economic growth stimulation strategy still employed by all developed countries of the world to tame the cost of production and guarantee the wellbeing of citizens. The subsidy system in Nigeria has been enmeshed in gross corruption
NAEC therefore recommends that NNPCL should ensure a transparent subsidy system that will allow the supply figures and cost templates that provide basis for subsidy claims to be verifiable.
It is our view that all stakeholder groups should liaise with regulators to establish unassailable templates for subsidy management until the market is deregulated.
We therefore call on government to immediately liberalize petrol supplies in the country in line with best practices. Also NAEC recommends that the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDRA), which is responsible for operations compliance and resource accountability need to rise to its duty by holding market players accountable for open books, fair play and equal opportunity.
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NMDRA also should not fail to provide a public dashboard on the supply flow in the domestic fuel market to allow public demand for accountable practice from players. As this will clear the air of suspicion that the prevailing fuel market crisis is not a political undertaking by managers of the system to siphon funds for political objectives.