President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that Nigerians should expect further increase in the price of petrol, saying people would pay more as soon as the price of crude oil in the international market recovers.
Buhari who was represented by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, stated yesterday at the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat at State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said, “The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected economies globally, has compelled us to make some far-reaching adjustments that may cause some initial pain, but which is necessary for long-term gains.
“As you all know, when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lock-down, we deregulated the price of premium motor spirit, PMS, such that the benefit of lower prices was passed to consumers.
“This was welcome by all and sundry. The effect of regulation though is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means, quite regrettably, that as oil prices recover, we would see some increases in PMS prices.”
Speaking on the electricity tariff, the president also justified the latest increase in electricity tariff, which has raised so much dust in the polity.
Buhari said, “The other painful adjustment that we have had to make in recent days is a review of the electricity tariff regime.
“If there is one thing we have heard over and over again, it is that Nigerians want consistent and reliable power supply. So the power sector remains a critical priority for the administration.
“Protecting the poor and vulnerable, while ensuring improved service in the power sector, is also a major priority for government. And our policies, like the social investment programmes and other socio-economic schemes to benefit Nigerians, show that we remain focused on improving the welfare of the common man.
“The recent service-based tariff adjustment by the DISCOs has been a source of concern for many of us. Let me say frankly that like many Nigerians, I have been very unhappy about the quality of service given by the DISCOs.
“That is why we have directed that tariff adjustments be made only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service. Under this new arrangement, only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted.
“Those who get less than 12 hours of supply (B and D and E Customers) will not see any tariff adjustment. The poor and under-privileged who were on R1 lifeline tariffs in the old structure will be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase.
“Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide metres for over five million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
“NERC has also been instructed to strictly enforce the capping regulation which will ensure that unmetred customers are not charged beyond the metred customers in their neighbourhood.
“In addressing the power problems, we must not forget that most Nigerians are not even connected to electricity at all. So, as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, we are providing solar home systems to five million Nigerian households (impacting up to 25 million individual Nigerians) in the next 12 months.”