A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has raised concerns over a sudden increment of pump price of petrol by Federal Government, just as he said that deregulation of oil sector does not translate to increment in Petrol Motor Spirit (PMS).
Atiku, who was presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during 2019 election, said that the hike in fuel price was not at par with claims regarding deregulation of the sector in Nigeria.
The elder statesman argued that in the United States (US) and Europe, fuel prices were far lower than they were in 2019 and that if Nigeria had truly deregulated as claimed by the federal government, the fuel prices should have dropped.
Atiku, through a statement on his official social media handle on Tuesday, stated that his view on the matter was framed by his years of experience as a businessman that was often affected by government policies.
He argued that the increment made by the apex government on fuel price could not be justified considering the current realities in the sector globally.
The ex-vice president said: “I am a businessman. I look at things from an economic perspective. Questions beg answers. The price of crude is down from where it was in 2019. In the US and Europe, fuel prices are far lower than they were in 2019. If we truly deregulated, shouldn’t fuel price have dropped?”.
Atiku’s stance came barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari said that fuel increase was borne out of necessity and that plans are underway to regulate marketers and industry players of both sectors to ensure citizens were not ripped off through arbitrary prices.
Buhari said that the increase, particularly that of petroleum was a result of the apex government deregulation initiative which ended the subsidy regime and that the fluctuating pump price was subjected to global prices of oil.
Addressing participants during the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat on Monday in Abuja, Osinbajo admitted that the country could not continue with subsidizing petroleum for the citizens and the financial burden was taken a toll on the country’s earning and taxpayers money.
According to him, the citizens would have to endure the inconveniences as part of measures to augment the government’s effort in repositioning the country’s for greater efficiency by eliminating all loopholes of systemic corruption.
Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, revealed that the administration was not considering returning to the subsidy regime, saying the country could not afford to subsidize petroleum for Nigerians and that petroleum subsidy was not budgeted for in the review 2020 budget.
“The COVID-19 has led to a severe downturn in the funds available to finance our budget and has severely hampered our capacity. One of the steps we took at the beginning of the crisis in March when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown was the deregulation of the price of premium motor spirit such that the benefit of the lower prices at the time was passed on to consumers.