The energy for a deregulated life!
It is no longer news that the price per litre of premium motor spirit, PMS otherwise known, in local parlance, as petrol has gone up. What is news, however is that the new price template announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Authority, PPPRA is becoming unenforceable by the day as demand is gradually overtaking supply. One of the reasons given by the PPPRA is the need to allow importers source for the almighty and evasive Dollars at whatever market to import products into the country and now, the same marketers are complaining of their inability to access the currency of imported fuel.
This implies that in no time, we will run out of stock, some will even hoard what they have and release it only when they are sure to make humongous profits out of it. It is certain, the marketers, left on auto pilot will a import more excuses than petrol in the days ahead! Government has pegged the price at between N135 and N145 per litre but no dispensing station, not even the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC Mega stations have been reported to dispense fuel for less than N145 per litre! Some fuel dispensing stations have even been reported to be sealed in Osogbo, State of Osun, South=West Nigeria for selling petrol at N160/litre. If allowed, these obnoxiously fraudulent marketers will sell at N500/litre!
While the people are beginning to adjust to the reality of a deregulated life by looking “legwards”, parking their cars and joining public transport to and from work, others with several cars are seriously considering auctioning some to reduce their overheads while yet others have now elected to be co-joined twins with anybody with the freebie of a free ride to and from work! In all of this, it would appear the pressure on our roads will be reduced as fewer private cars and trucks will be on the roads. Demand for cars will likely reduce while that of bicycles will increase. The madness on the roads will increase by a notch commensurate with the increase in the price of petrol as those buoyant enough to drive their cars will devise several ingenious ways to conserve their money. Driving at a speed of N145 per litre will be a novel study in traffic management for the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC and the various states traffic management agencies.
The faction of NLC that went on strike has made its point and called off the strike when the ovation was loudest. Now, they must find ways of uniting both factions under one umbrella and use the energy from such a common front to engage government on ways to make life better for Nigerians in view of emerging realities. The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program, SURE-P of the last administration bequeathed mass transit buses to state governments and the labour unions. Perhaps, it is time for the NLC to float a mass transit company by starting with the buses at its disposal to ameliorate the burden on workers and other Nigerians in desperate need of a pocket-friendly mode of commuting. While it is the inalienable right of the NLC to demand for wage increase, they should consider the effect of such on the terribly brutalized Naira, otherwise a further weakening of the Naira will result in a commensurate increase in fuel price that will make us engage ourselves further in motion without movement!
The federal government of Nigeria, as part of efforts to cushion the effect of the price increase on Nigerians promised several palliatives but what will make a lot of sense to most Nigerians, particularly, the vulnerable among us, is to work with the various state governments and roll out a Public Private Partnership Bus transit system in the order of the Lagos Mass Transit Authority, LAMATA. Like LAMATA, these privately run bus companies will manage the mass transit on the roads, rails and water ways at a cheaper rate to commuters with safety of crew and passengers paramount. If such a system is neat enough and chaos free for embarkation and disembarkation, it is certain that a good number of the middle class can jettison their private cars for public transport thereby reducing the stress on the roads and anger level to a more manageable degree.
It is clear deregulation is the way to go. It is an unimpeachable fact that government has no business in business in the world of today. It is time for the government to act along these lines and they are beginning to act. The only snag here is our peculiarities as a people and our penchant for chaos that makes nonsense of common sense! The final solution to this lingering energy crisis is for the NNPC and their co-venturers, the major marketers, to be the sole importer by paying with crude oil and the privatization of all government assets in the long run. Where there is a will, there must always be a way. Government must find such a way by putting these implacably insatiable marketers where they belong, making fuel available and restoring the confidence of Nigerians. This is the energy for a deregulated life Nigerians need!
Kayode Adeoye is an energy analyst from Lagos.