By Sahabi Abdul and Bashir Olanrewaju
Long queues of cars waiting for service at fuel stations emerged all over Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Monday as dealers tightened supplies in anticipation of higher prices as oil prices surged.
After President Muhammadu Buhari’s government announced last year it had ended subsidies paid to keep fuel relatively cheap in the oil-producing country, local prices were expected to be dictated by global market costs.
Periodically, the Petroleum Ministry has since released price bands for petrol, diesel and kerosene that reflect market costs, and there was widespread expectation higher pump prices will be released in the new month.
Crude oil prices have more than doubled since Buhari’s administration took advantage of the plunge in prices brought about the Covid-19 pandemic to end its support for cheaper fuel. This has created concern among citizens and in the government about what may be the social fallout of higher fuel prices with the economy barely out of recession.
State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which imports most of country’s fuel for domestic use, said it won’t be increasing prices yet pending the conclusion of discussions with the trade unions on how to shield the poor from further economic hardships in the event if higher prices.
NNPC warned “petroleum products marketers not to engage in arbitrary price increase or hoarding of petrol in order not to create artificial scarcity and unnecessary hardship for Nigerians,” according to a statement by spokesman Kennie Obateru.
Relevant regulatory bodies were enjoined 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,” NNPC said..