The Chairman Senate Committee on the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Senator Gershom Bassey, has cautioned state governors against pushing for an increment in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum had during its virtual meeting on May 20, considered the report of a committee headed by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and accepted its recommendation that supported a full deregulation of the petroleum industry.
The El-Rufai panel was said to have suggested that the pump price of the product should hover around N385 per litre.
But Bassey, in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, asked both the federal and state governments to apply caution and ensure that any decision on petrol was taken with a human face.
The Cross River senator said, “There are some realities in the petroleum industry which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been talking about for some time now.
“I think that whatever those realities are, anything that has to do with the price of the petroleum products must be fixed with a human face.
“Here, we have a country where the quality of the value of the naira is going down. The disposable income of all Nigerians is nothing to write home about, yet you are talking about increasing the prices of fuel. I think the governors should approach the issue with a human face.”
The El-Rufai committee was also said to have recommended that the Federal Government should buy buses for mass transportation of Nigerians, among other palliatives, to cushion the effects of the price increase.
The El-Rufai’s six-member committee was set up early in the year by the National Economic Council headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
It was to look into the dwindling revenues of states and make recommendations to the council.
Other governors who are members of the El-Rufai panel are: Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
The committee is also made up of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari.
The remaining 32 governors, who are members of the NGF, have endorsed the report.
The NGF in a communiqué after the meeting noted that the El-Rufai panel briefed it on the appropriate pricing of petrol in Nigeria, calling for full deregulation.
The Kaduna State Governor, according to the communiqué, further revealed that the Federal Government was sending between N70bn and N210bn monthly to subsidise the petrol price at N162 per litre.
The committee identified Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Rivers and Abuja as the top consumers of petrol.