By Stanley Onyekwere &Mashe Umaru Gwamna
Abuja residents have expressed mixed reactions over federal government’s sudden reduction of pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol, from N97 to N87, due to the fall in the prices of petroleum at the international market.
This is coming on the heels of Sunday’s directive by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, to all fuel stations and the regulatory authorities to effect the change of price straight away.
According to the Minister, the reduction is because of the fall in global crude oil price.
However, many observers are saying that the real reason for the slight reduction is because President Jonathan is trying to score cheap political, to enable him win next month’s presidential elections.
A cross section of the residents, who spoke with Peoples Daily in separate interviews on the development, expressed divergent views, with many saying there are doubts over the rationale for the reduction, as it was long overdue.
While some described the fuel reduction by N10 as a welcome development, others say it is a desperate effort by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s-led government to trick the ordinary citizens into supporting his second term bid in the forthcoming February 14 polls.
To some residents, though reducing just N10 at a time the international market price has fallen more than 50 percent was insignificant, a few others argued that it was pointer to the government’s insensitivity to the plights of the masses.
Peoples Daily reports that these reservations are pouring despite several calls in some quarters that there should be reduction in pump price of refined petroleum products, following due to the the drastic fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market, prior to the Sunday’s directive.
Investigation revealed that while few fuel stations within the city have started selling at the new N87 pump price , many still retain the old price N97, but promising to adjust to the new approved price as soon as they exhaust their old stock.
It was observed that at some fuel stations in the city, still selling at old petrol pump price, some motorists who insisted on buying at the new price drove out in search of the product elsewhere; with others were conformable buying the product at the old price.
A resident, Princewill Okoro, who expressed delight over the development, said the reduction shows that the government now listens to the voice of the common man, calling for the downward adjustment of the petrol pump price, in line with global trend.
According to him, Irrespective of enormous suspicions trailing the government’s action, the authorities deserve some level of commendation, for taken a bold step.
He added that it is good effort, “but there were still more to be done, as the people can get a much better deal from the over 50% drop crude oil price.”
“For me, I had long expected the reduction, giving the consistent dip in crude oil price at international market, but perhaps the government needed time to put things in order, before finally coming out with the directive.
“But I was very happy when I heard that there was a slight reduction of petrol pump price, at least people especially motorists will have something to save, even as we look forward for more reduction if the situation in the international market persists,” says a motorist, John Okey.
Another resident, Mr. Edmond Glen says: “I see the development as part of political desperation by the President Goodluck Jonathan to win February 14 elections; he is just trying to win over Nigerian’s heart.
“If at this point in time, where we have just three weeks to elections, that oil price is been reduced.
“It is an indirect way to say that they are looking for power as all cost.”
Similarly, a business expert, Faith Sunday, noted that the issue of the oil price reduction may be considered a serious political strategy, even as good as it may appears to be, it was clear that people will misinterpret it because the election is already at hand.
She added that the Government’s decision to reduce the oil price may not be entirely because the president wants to win elections at all cost, as it is understandable that the reduction came because of the variability of oil prices in the international market.
According to her, since there is a fallen oil price by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which means other countries should look inward bygoing back to their various domestic market and effect the change, so that what I believed happened.
He stressed that looking at the development from the business perspective, of international oil market and importation of Nigeria petroleum products, which has affected the oil market and prices of oil products in Nigeria, it is a good step in the right direction.
“What the government has done is not new or different from what other countries are doing; places like United States of America (USA) have done so before now.
“For instance in the USA, for the past four month a gallon of petroleum dropped from $3 to $2 dollars per litre; this was possible, because of their membership of the OPEC, so in Nigeria although it is just 10 %, anything can still happen.
“The problem with the reduction is that a lot of people read meaning to it, because even analysts are saying, there is a political undertone in it,” she stressed.
For one resident, who was seen around Peace Mass Transit Park, Mr. A. Emmanuel, “it was not political move, as it is a normal
thing that is been done by the administration, due to the fallen prices of crude oil in international market.
“In general perspective, as the crude oil prices have fallen in the international market, it was a matter of time that it would affect Nigeria’s domestic market, therefore it’s a good thing that the administration has done so,” he explained.
Not left out, one Mallam Isa Bello, a motorist insists that; “reducing the oil price is not the problem but how effective the directive would be, “because since the announcement on Sunday, until this afternoon (yesterday) we still brought oil at price.
“Also, of what effect it would have on the welfare of the people should be the main the issue, not the mere reduction itself.
“But, it is rather unfortunate that the oil price reduction is all Goodluck strategy to campaign for his re-election bid next month.
Again, another resident, Umar Isa, says: “Somebody should let the authorities know that when we said that we wanted change in pump price in line with global trend in the sector, we didn’t mean a meager N10 change reduction for a commodity, which its raw material has over 50% drop in price.
“Even, at that why now, when other world leaders did so several months ago; but the government should stop playing politics with critical economic issue like fuel.”
However, for a motorist, who was spotted after filling his tank with the product at the new reduced price, from a petrol station in Garki, Uche Obia, with the development, it means more money would be saved from buying the same quantity of the product for other things.
“My fuel tank is 80 litres, and a N10 reduction means that I can save N1, 000 on each full tank, at least that should help me take care of lunch while at work.
“So, for those seeing it as political strategy, they should really have a re-think by being a bit more objective of the situation.