Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says the “opportunistic” opposition is playing dirty politics with the new electricity tariff and increase in petrol price.
Addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja, Mohammed said subsidising petrol is no longer feasible owing to the prevailing economic conditions.
Mohammed said the federal government could no longer afford petrol subsidy because the country’s foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60 percent.
He said petrol price in Nigeria remains the lowest in West Africa with N162/ litre, adding that Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo sell petrol at N322, N359 and N300 per litre respectively.
“The opportunistic opposition and their allies are playing dirty politics with the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff. Please note that these naysayers did not complain when the price adjustment led to lower petrol prices on at least two occasions since March,” he said.
“Yet, the government has had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects.
“One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.
“As I said earlier, the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. Everyone welcomed the lower fuel price then. Again, the effect of deregulation is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices.
“This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover, there will be some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now.”
The minister said the adjustment to the electricity tariff is for the industry to be able to sustain itself.
“The truth of the matter is that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the government has been supporting the industry,” he said.
“To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost 1.7 trillion naira, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls.
“The government does not have the resources to continue along this path. To borrow just to subsidize generation and distribution, which are both privatized, will be grossly irresponsible.”
The minister said the government is not insensitive to the economic difficulties of the citizens, adding that “we certainly will not inflict hardship on our people.”
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