President Muhammadu Buhari has defended the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit also known as petrol even while asking Nigerians to face the reality of subsidy removal.
At the on-going Performance Review Retreat for Ministers in Abuja, said government revenue is declining so it can no longer subsidize importation of fuel.
“There are several negative consequences if the government should resume the business of fixing or subsidising PMS prices. First of all, it would mean a return to the costly subsidy regime,” said President Buhari who was represented at the event by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
He added: “Today, we have 60 per cent less revenues; we just cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this administration.
“Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices.
“Also, as I hinted earlier, there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services. We now have no choice.”
The President’s explanation comes against the backdrop of the outrage triggered by the increase in the pump price of petrol – one which was widely condemned by various individuals and groups in the country.
While the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company reviewed the ex-depot price of petrol from N138.62 to N151.56 per litre in September, a majority of oil marketers were selling above N160 per litre.
The President also gave an assurance that the government would remain alert to its responsibilities even as he promised that government will prevent marketers from raising prices arbitrarily or exploiting citizens.
President Buhari stressed that this was why the PPRA made the announcement last week to set the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers.
“The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will keep coming down,” he said.