With the recent reports of petroleum marketers defying government orders to sell petrol at N185 per litre, one is tempted to ask whether these marketers are enjoying the backing of a parallel government.
It is saddening to think that oil marketers will snub the directives from the honourable Minister of States for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva that Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol be sold at N184 per litre, instead of selling the product above the regulated price.
The minister, who was in Lagos on Friday on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to assess the situation of things with regard to distribution and adherence to price regulation, told journalists after his tour of selected petroleum dispensing outlets that all retail outlets across the country were expected to sell petrol at the regulated price of N184 per litre.
“The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority have been directed to upscale its regulatory activities to ensure marketers abide by the current price regime.
"The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, retail outlets are selling at N184 per litre and over 900 outlets operated by the company is selling at that price and that is the official price everybody is expected to sell,” he said while reacting to a question on the arbitrary price hike by some marketers.
Current findings have shown that fuel stations belonging to the NNPCL Retail and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria were selling PMS at N185 as against the N184 per litre that Sylva stated.
Stations such as Mobil, NorthWest, MRS, Oando, etc., which are members of MOMAN, currently sell petrol at N185 per litre.
Members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria were still selling the product between N200 and N210 per litre despite the National Controller Operations of the association, Mike Osatuyi, assuring journalists last week Thursday that its members were willing to partner with the Federal Government and dispense products at government regulated prices.
NNPCL said it would sell petrol to depots at N172 per litre to enable them to sell at the regulated price.
“All of my members are going to load at N172 per litre. But our worry is how can the government sustain supplies to the depots, and keep prices regulated as promised.
“But I want to believe that there is a commitment on the part of the government to keep supplies coming in,” he said, demanding that IPMAN members should be given 10 days to sell off old stocks in their respective stations.
During the FG task force visit to Lagos last week, General Coordinator, South West, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Ayo Kadoso, told the pressmen that about 1.3 billion litres of petrol had been imported.
According to him, the total 1.3 billion litres of petrol currently in the country consist of 580 million litres in the inland depots, and 690 million litres in the marine/offshore depots.
“We have sufficient fuel in the country. I can assure you that in a few days’ time, everything will be fine because we will monitor distribution back-to-back and ramp up enforcement.
“As of today, the inland depots have 580 million litres and the marine or offshore have 690 million litres as well.
"In total, that translates to 1.3 billion litres, which is about 32 days sufficiency,” he said.
Kadoso assured that FG was serious about keeping the country wet by selling products to consumers at a regulated price of N172 per litre.
When citizens brazenly defy the government's orders and policies, it leaves a sour taste and raises serious questions about those vested with regulatory powers.
Do actions like this put the DPR and PPMC officials, for example, in the right light?
In a corruption-ridden society like ours, certain attitudes become an indictment of the relevant watchdogs.
Are the regulatory officials competent enough for their jobs? Is the government empowering them enough?
Have severe disciplinary examples been made of the defaulting marketers? Worse still, is it impossible that a few regulatory officials have been compromised?
These are questions that must be answered to nip this ugly trend in the bud.