After the inauguration speech of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in which he said “Fuel subsidy is gone,” the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) followed up with an increase in the pump price of petrol. This has brought untold hardship on individuals, families and businesses across the country.
This has also led to long queues at petrol stations and sadly, hike in prices of all commodities, especially transportation fare.
“There is no electricity, no fuel and I have many jobs to deliver soon to my customers. Selfish owners are hoarding fuel. See, transportation has gone up by 300 percent on the Ikotun-Cele route. It will rise more in days to come. Both fuel station owners and commercial buses are adding to the sufferings of the people. It is sad and Nigerians should not suffer like this from Buhari and now to Tinubu, then where is the human face they have been promising,” Mathias Onyegachi, a welder and metal fabrication outfit owner, decried.
Citing an instance with the cash scarcity issue before the election, the metal fabricator noted that the government should have known better that there is no way selfish Nigerians will not take advantage of the subsidy removal to make profit, while the masses pay the price.
For Ademola Ajasin, an automated bakery owner, it is inhuman to remove subsidy without putting in place palliatives to cushion the effects.
According to him, businesses like his that depend on electricity are hard hit as not just the hike, but the epileptic power supply and lack of fuel to power their generators, will ground their business.
“In my area at Ejigbo, the pump prices go from N550 to N600 per litre. This is very sad and inexcusable for a government that is just coming in. If you don’t get fuel and no electricity, you will stop operation, no money to make and salaries will not be paid. Bread and garri are going to be out of reach with this unnecessary hikes,” Ajasin decried.
But Kenneth Okafor, an entrepreneur, economist, and part-time lecturer with the Lagos State University, the hike has impacted Nigeria’s already high inflation to a much scarier height.
“From now and onwards, crime rate, sickness and heart attacks will increase because many Nigerians will no longer afford two square meals.
“We will now give other countries a huge gap in the global poverty rating and this is very sad of a country that has abundant natural resources, but with worst leadership,” Okafor, who leaves at Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos, lamented.
Of course, Okafor, who runs a digital/graphics company at Okota, Lagos, has asked his 10-member staff to scale down operation until fuel price is harmonised and product available to enable them properly adjust charges for their services.
Emmanuel Arinze, a manager at a phone and accessories store at Bannex plaza, Wuse 11, a commercial hub in Abuja, lamented that the cost of running his business has increased significantly. Arinze has three staff members and he is already working on an upward review of their salaries as they are already lamenting high transportation cost.
Arinze also said that the power supply was not regular and he often runs on generator all day, and the cost of driving around to deliver goods has also increased.
“It was not fair and it is insensitive of President Tinubu to just open his mouth on the day of inauguration and announce subsidy removal. As a responsible leader, who genuinely has the interest of citizens at geart, I expected him to first put in place measures to reduce shock. But here we are today.
“For me, my operating cost has increased in just these few days and will continue to increase dramatically. I have three staff in my office which I pay N50, 000 each monthly, now I have to raise the salary to ease transport expenses. Who will shoulder that cost for me? Also, I used to spend just over N1,000 to get 10 litres of fuel. Now, I must spend at least N5,000, what an increase! who will shoulder this cost for me?” he lamented.
A commuter who identified himself as Bola Yusuf, and resides in Lokogoma Area of Abuja said he was in so much pain when he boarded a taxi from Gudu area of Abuja to Area 3 junction for N300, a fair that used to be N150.
“When I entered motor this morning, that was when the impact of this subsidy hit me. I was so much pained. My transport fare to work daily is usually N650 to N750. Now it is N1,000 to N1,200. I am also angry becaue nobody is saying anything; the citizens are just watching, allowing govenrnent to dictate for them, and this is becaue we are not united, no unity in this country! This situation will be worse I promise you; by next week (this week) when you go to market, you will understand what I am saying. In fact, prices of goods have already started rising, the hardship is just starting,” he said.
Chika Ebereofo, managing director, Ever Rich Bakery, Asaba, told BusinessDay Sunday, that petrol was a major source of their power supply but the price was on the high side.
“We are used to using petrol both at home, factory and shop as we do not have steady power supply from Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
“Before the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu, we’ve been buying N5,000 worth of fuel on daily basis at the rate of N210 per litre. Since, Monday when the subsidy was removed, we’ve been buying N10,000 worth of fuel daily at the rate of N510 per litre.
“We will not stop running our business but we are not happy because it is affecting the purchasing power of our customers.
“Our customers complain each time we increase the prices of the loaves of bread.
We increased the prices last month and we have no plan to do that again to avoid losing our customers.
“In order to retain our customers, we have to bear whatever loss for now but we are suggesting that the Federal Government should reduce the price of fuel to enable every Nigerian that needs the product buy without spending such exhorbitant amount,” she said.
According to Ebereofo, “This is important because if things continue the way they are today, cost of everything in the market would go up astronomically because the situation has negatively impacted on transportation.
“People now spend more than double the amount they used to spend on transportation just to go to Onitsha and back to Asaba. You don’t expect them to sell their goods without first adding their cost of transportation. Subsidy or no subsidy, all we want is a reduction in the price of petrol.”
Tochukwu Nweke, manager, Pricks Pharmacy, Asaba, narrated how they currently spend N3,000 daily to power their generator instead of N1,000 they used to spend.
“With the removal of fuel subsidy, we now spend a lot in terms of energy. We have no choice than to increase the prices of drugs we sell and our customers are already complaining bitterly.
“If there are good reasons behind the removal of the subsidy, the President should maintain his position but if at last the removal would not favour Nigerians, he should reverse this policy and let the fuel subsidy continue,” Nweke said.
For Jegede Amisu, a commercial bus operator, the whole burden is shifted to passengers, though he pointed out that it is not easy for transporters too.
He said areas like Barrack to International market, Lokoja was formerly N300 (three hundred naira) but now N500; from Zone 8 roundabout to International market before used to be N200 but now N300.
Amisu also disclosed that it has not been easy for transporters throughout the federation.
“With the fuel subsidy being removed, the price of spare parts is going to be tough for Nigerians. Because if it doesn’t hit you in travelling, it will hit you when you have gone to market to buy ordinary vegetables. It affects everybody, whether you are travelling or not.
“When those that used to sell sachet water increased the price from N10 to N20 we questioned them. But now take for instance, sachet water seller has to transport him or herself to area where he or she will be selling it. And do you think that after paying N300 to get to International Market he or she will sell it for N20 again? He will add part of the fare to it. Don’t be surprised if they start selling it two for fifty naira or thirty naira per sachet.
“Now a big bowl of local rice that used to be N5,200 is now N6,000 or N5,800 depending on your bargaining power. In fact, things are going to be tougher for the common masses. Why I said this is that the politicians don’t care about the sufferings of the masses, what matters to them is the power they want to grab. Once they have gotten it any thing can happen to the masses. These masses remember are the electorate that voted for them during elections. As I am talking to you now, Nigeria is no longer a democratic nation as being practised in other places; the people are being ruled by the highest bidders; once you have your money thugs (our children) are at your beck and call.”
Abdul Karen Bello, a cab driver, said that Nigerians are really experiencing an era of real computer language “garbage in and garbage out.”
Osarenren Idahor, a barber, said it hasn’t been easy living and doing business in Nigeria as the government always comes up with unfavourable policies that affect the masses who are trying to survive with meagre income.
“From the day President Tinubu made the annoucement, there was this wind of suffering that blew away the roof of the average Nigerian, and exposed us to more hardship. With this increased petrol price, there will be rise in the cost of food, rise in house rents, transportation as well as school fees.
“We can always adapt. We have seen worse situations before now. Nigerians are built to withstand difficulties. I know it will not be easy but we cannot continue to groan when the decision has already been taken. I think we should look beyond statement and find ways to live our lives,” he said.
Noma Iguisi, chairman Edo State branch of Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI), told BusinessDay that the removal of subsidy will adversely affect SMEs as prices of fuel at the moment is going for between N500 and N700.
“Imagine a worker that used to spend say N5,000 a week for transportation to and from his/her place of work will have to cough out more than N10,000 weekly to go to work. This, ultimately, will amount to over N40,000 monthly on transportation. How much do SMEs practitioners pay their workers? For those that have their personal vehicles, they may end up spending a huge sum.You see that the impact will be very grievous and business owners will definitely lose their staff if there’s no commensurate increase in salaries,” Iguisi said.
Ken Anyanwu, managing director, Nikan & Felly Nigeria Limited, said that he has stopped production due to the increase in the price of petrol.
Though Anyanwu said that there was nothing wrong with Government’s decision to remove subsidy on petrol, he however, noted that it was wrongly done.
He observed that Government should have made adequate arrangements to cushion its effect on the citizens, especially the poor.
“We are just coming out of the stress of Naira redesign/cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which affected everybody in the country negatively.
“People are just coming out of its effect and now petroleum subsidy removal. Subsidy removal should have been done when the refineries are working. If the refineries are working there will be nothing like subsidy, if the refineries are working, Nigeria will not be importing refined petroleum products.”
He argued that Government should have considered that they’re dealing with people before coming up with the policy.
“Those of us in the private sector pay ourselves, there is also no salary increase for public and private sector workers, but prices of goods have increased astronomically.
“For us, who run big generators, we buy diesel, which its pump price has skyrocketed. I can’t think of producing now, because if I do it will affect my cost of production, because everything has increased and if I don’t add the additional cost in the price of my product, I won’t make profit.
“To remain in business, Anyanwu said that he would reduce his workforce, who h according to him, would increase the number of unemployed in the country.”
He decried the attitude of some business operators in Nigeria, who seize a little opportunity to maximise profit.
“You could see that immidiately President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made that pronouncement that his administration will remove subsidy on petroleum products, all filling stations adjusted their pump prices upward and Government did nothing to stop hem.”
He noted that government should have used a taskforce to sell off their stock to serve as deterent to others, who wished to also backup prices.
“Even the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that came up with this new price regime of over ₦500 per litre for fuel, didn’t put any measure in place to cushion the effect on the people.
“So, what do you think will happen in society, everything will change and you cannot control pricing of commodities in Nigeria. There is no price control body in Nigeria. So, what are we doing?
“Everyday people are complaining, people are saying that things are difficult and the Government is not listening, Government should listen to the people.
“As you can see, we are not producing and we are not thinking about producing. If I must produce, I have to sell outside Nigeria, because I can’t make profit, if I sell localiy.
“This whole thing is affecting us seriously and government should know the right time to withdraw subsidy on petrol so that people can live.
“It looks as if Nigerian Government likes to see people suffer. We suffered during Naira redesign, which was during the just concluded national election and immidiately after election we are now suffering subsidy withdrawal.
“Why is it that in every 3-months, there must be something negative to talk about in Nigeria? And how can we run democracy for 28 years and still our refineries are not working. What are we doing?” he asked.
Aliyu Yusuf, an Ilorin-based tailor who uses petrol for his generator and to operate industrial machine for sewing, said: “It is surprising that we are into fuel problem days after we had new administration. It has not been easy at all. The petrol we normally get for N220:00 before, now between N515 and N550 per litre. How can we cope with that? We are just struggling to survive; the money is not there.
“So, we plead with the authorities concerned to consider us. Although, the decision is good but the timing is very wrong. Government should please pity the poor masses because we are at the receiving end.
“Also, oil marketers should fear God because we know the fuel is available but we don’t know why they are creating unnecessary hike in price of petrol. May God guide our leaders right in leading us.”
Fatima Haruna, who deals on Kuli-Kuli and groundnut oil, said: “We are calling on governments and authorities concerned to do the needful and address the problem before the situation worsens. The current economic downturn is still bedevilling us.
“I bought two litres of petrol for my grinding machine at the rate of N1,200:00 yesterday. You know how many liters such amount of money will buy before?
“Because of the inflation, I have to adjust in order not to run at a loss; but make profit. A bottle of groundnut oil which was N1000 before is now N1,100.
“The situation is terrible. We appeal to the government to please come to our aid by providing us with palliative to cushion the effect because it has affected prices of all goods in the market.”
Ijeoma Okey, 30, entrepreneur, said the removal of subsidy has caused more hardship to Nigerians since it was announced, saying that the Federal Government should revert to old price and put in place measures to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal before implementing i“Subsidy removal has caused more hardship to the masses, people are suffering the most because of the fuel scarcity. For us workers that move on the road, transport fare is on the high side even to access public vehicles (maruwa) is difficult.
“My suggestion is when the government wants to make a decision they should have the poor masses at heart, they should find a way to resolve this because it has affected our movement, food prices.
“We plead with federal government to come to our aid before the issue on ground gets worst,” Okey said.
Odun Jhon, IT expert, 45, said the removal of subsidy is not what Nigerians deserved this time around due to the hardship they had experienced in the last eight years.
Jhon added that the government should revert to status-quo, put in place palliatives, and increase the minimum before considering such a move.
According to him, “This is not what Nigerians deserve this time around, just when we have suffered so much in the last eight years of the Muhamamdu Buhari administration, we are thinking Tinubu would put a bit of smile on our faces, but the news of the removal of subsidy is not the sort of news we need now.
“Prices of everything are up. Transport fares are up, this morning I paid double of what I am paying to my work place.
“I am not in support of subsidy removal at all when you have not provided palliative and put things in place to check suffering. Look how much is our minimum wage.
“Things are so difficult now; our leaders did not put the interest of the masses at heart before arriving at this decision. I beg Tinubu to please reduce the price because it would affect everything.”