Tougher time awaits Nigerians following the recent advice by the World Bank urging the Federal Government to review upward the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS.
DAILY POST recalls that the World Bank on Wednesday, December 13, claimed that the government may still be paying for fuel subsidy, which was removed by President Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023.
The bank claimed that the current price of fuel in Nigeria was not cost-reflective, saying it has to be reviewed upward.
The World Bank said the price of petrol should be around N750 per litre, more than the N650 currently being paid by Nigerians.
The bank’s Lead Economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, revealed this during his presentation of the Nigeria Development Update, December 2023 edition titled, ‘Turning The Corner’ (from reforms and renewed hope, to results) on Wednesday in Abuja.
During the event, Sienaert noted that based on the official exchange rate, fuel should cost N750/litre.
He said, “It does seem like petrol prices are not fully adjusting to market conditions, so that hints at the partial return of the subsidy…assuming that importation is done at the official FX rate.
“We think the price of petrol should be around N750 per litre more than the N650 per litre currently paid by Nigerians.”
DAILY POST reports that the advice is coming amid terrible hardship bedevilling the country owing to the removal of fuel subsidy in May this year.
Recall that barely 24 hours after Tinubu announced the subsidy removal, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, jerked up the pump price of PMS from N195 per litre to as high as N577 in May.
Currently, Nigerians are paying N650 for a litre in some cities, while in some other areas, it goes for higher than N670/litre.
The development skyrocketed the price of essential goods and services across the country, especially staple food items, making life relatively unbearable for average Nigerians.
On Friday, the National Bureau of Statistics disclosed that Nigeria’s food inflation increased to 32.84 per cent in November from 31.51 per cent recorded in the previous month.
It is believed that should the federal government adhere to Word Bank’s advice, the increment would further impoverish the masses.
In separate interviews with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other stakeholders said the World Bank was not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
They warned the government against heeding the advice, citing the current economic situation in the country.
NLC spokesman, Beson Upah told DAILY POST that the World Bank was unperturbed about happenings in Nigeria, stressing that it would result in anarchy if the government followed the suggestion of the World Bank.
According to Upah, the current fuel price has already “destroyed the country” and there is no need to hike the pump price further.
He alleged that the World Bank “is Globalist North in thoughts and actions and has little or no consideration for the Global South.
“It is a predatory institution which the Global North uses to justify its crimes against the South.
“It is almost single-handedly responsible for the ruination of the economies of countries of the global South for which it prescribes one solution for all ailments!
“It does not care what happens to Nigeria or Nigerians so it could from its perch in Washington say whatever it likes or push around our leaders like househelps.
“Truth, however, remains that the present regime of pump price of PMS has all but destroyed the country. To now ask the government to raise it to N750 per litre is to invite anarchy upon the land.”
Upah wondered why the World Bank was mum on the current minimum wage in Nigeria but was concerned about fuel price increment.
“The World Bank is so hypocritical if it fails to see the nexus between price and capacity. The minimum wage in Nigeria for a privileged few is N30,000. Same minimum wage in the US where the law is enforced is N1.5 million.
“In light of this, if the government knows what is good for it, it should ignore the World Bank but remain committed to fighting inherent corruption in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. It must also cut down the high cost of governance”, he added.
Similarly, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP told DAILY POST that the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the World Bank were responsible for Nigeria’s economic woes.
The PDP spokesman lamented that Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of any palliatives from the government since the fuel subsidy was removed, stressing that the call for fuel price increase was unthoughtful and unacceptable.
He said, “I have never seen an economy teleguided by the World Bank that is doing well. The essence of the government is to care for the well being of the people.
“We are where we are together as a result of IMF and World Bank advice- secret devaluation of Naira to partial subsidy removal, from partial subsidy removal to full subsidy removal.
“Now they are advocating for an increase in fuel pump price to meet the dollar rate, whose interest? Nigerians’ interest or what IMF or World Bank wants?
“Since subsidy was removed we are yet to feel any impact of the palliatives and you are asking for an increase. What are they taking us for? Fool?
“Calling for an increase to the fuel pump price is unacceptable and our government must reject that at all costs”.
On his part, Dr Yunusa Salisu Tanko, Chief Spokesperson for the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council in the last election told DAILY POST that the move by the World Bank was an attempt to continue colonising the African countries.
According to him, fixing the Nigerian economy is not about increasing fuel prices, stating that the solution to the country’s current problems was creative leadership.
He urged the Federal Government to ensure that refineries were built in each of the six geo-political zones in the country, saying such a move would help in crashing the price of fuel and reduce price of commodities in the market.
He said, “Increasing fuel price again would be the most callous decision this government will take.
“The people are already wallowing in abject poverty. They cannot feed themselves because of the pain the fuel price has already inflicted on them.
“The World Bank is trying to infiltrate our economy because the government is not creative.
“How can they deceive the Nigerian President that they will repair the economy if the price of fuel is increased to N750/litre? They will not repair anything. You need to be creative to be able to get out of a particular situation.
“As a government that has already taken so much debt, you need to find a way of getting your refineries to get working.
“You can build refineries and allow private organisations to also build in the six geo-political zones in the country.
“When this is done, the refineries will be refining products at a minimal cost, reducing the price from N670 to N300.
“The World Bank is serving its own interest and the interest of its people against the interest of our own people. So you need drastic decisions to be able to do that.
“If you continue to listen to the World Bank, they will continue to give you a kind of new colonial system. They have continued to enslave African countries. And this is where a strong leader is needed, unfortunately, I doubt if Tinubu is a strong leader”.
However, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Mathew Adah told our correspondent that “there is no cause for alarm”.
According to him, “President Tinubu is an intelligent man. He won’t just begin to take action just because the World Bank advised. I believe he knows what to do.
“Anyone who says the President doesn’t feel the pains of Nigerians may be lying.
“He does but the fact is that Rome was not built in a day. We all know the kind of economy the government inherited from the previous one.
“Nigerians need to be patient. I’m convinced that with time, everything will go back to normal.”