The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has said that the federal government is no longer in the business of fixing fuel pump  price in the country. He made this statement as he briefed journalists in respect of the hue and cry, arising from the recent increase of petrol price from N147 to N151.56  ex-depot. Ex-depot is the price at which marketers buy the product from depot owners before adding their own for operational costs and profit.

The minister stressed that government has stepped back from determining petroleum pump price. What it does now is to protect the interest of the consumers by ensuring that marketers do not over-exploit them through profiteering. Mr Sylva further said that it was unfortunate that people would blame the government for this, stressing that the deregulation of the sector is imperative for the economy, as supported by stakeholders.

The minister reiterated that government cannot  continue to fund subsidy, hence government would not adopt that as an option. Arguing that what is  happening is for the economic survival of the country, he said that Nigerians should not listen to advocacy groups in support of subsidy payment. In his opinion, deregulation would definitely come with a few pains, but the survival of the country is paramount.

Indeed the minister was actually saying that though the plight of the masses was known and felt by government, there’s nothing  Buhari can do in that regard, because the survival of the economy is paramount. But he ought to know as well that the cry of the exploited citizens of this country is quite genuine and justified, and should not be misplaced or swept under the carpet of government policy.

The truth is that both the depot owners, marketers and stakeholders, down to road transporters have ways of recouping their losses or mitigating their pains. It’s only the helpless common man that bears the brunt of a policy such as this, by paying outrageous transport costs and buying exorbitant consumer goods because he has no choice. In other words, it is the ultimate consumer that sustains the  economy when issues like this arise. And as they arise quite often, the economic woes of the citizens are not taken into consideration.

John Daniel Obioma

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