Latest Fuel Price Hike Sparks Fears of Business Closures, Worsening Poverty, and Crime Surge
In a recent development that has sparked widespread concern and anger, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) and other fuel marketers have implemented a significant hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol). The price surge, which raised petrol prices from about N537/litre to between N617 and N630/litre, has raised fears of business closures and job losses among members of the organized private sector.Manufacturers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and business owners across the country are expressing serious apprehensions over the implications of the fuel price hike. Francis Meshioye, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), emphasized the unpredictability of such increases and its severe impact on businesses that are still grappling with the aftereffects of the removal of fuel subsidy. Meshioye stressed the importance of engaging key stakeholders before making decisions with far-reaching consequences.Gabriel Idahosa, Deputy President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), echoed the concerns, warning of severe hardship for businesses in the near-term. He highlighted the potential for a drop in production capacity and urged the government to address the crisis promptly.Femi Egbesola, President of the Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria, expressed deep worry that the fuel price hike could lead to the collapse of many SMEs, considering the additional hardship they are already facing due to the recent subsidy removal.Various associations representing small businesses, including the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, added their voices to the chorus of concerns, pointing out the negative impact on operations and the likelihood of further business closures.The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has also taken note of the situation, announcing plans to convene an emergency meeting in response to the fuel price hike. The NLC and Trade Union Congress accused the government of favoring the rich over the poor and failing to fulfill promises made during negotiations.The House of Representatives has summoned the Group Managing Director of NNPCL and oil marketers to explain the sudden price increase. The House has also set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the reasons behind the hike and propose palliative measures to ease the burden on Nigerians.According to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), the devaluation of the naira against the US dollar contributed significantly to the increase in petrol prices. The association emphasized that the cost of crude oil and the exchange rate accounted for over 80 per cent of the fuel price.As the situation continues to unfold, commuters and motorists in Anambra State are already feeling the impact, with petrol prices soaring to as high as N700/litre, causing widespread frustration and panic among consumers.The situation remains tense, and stakeholders are calling on the government to address the crisis promptly and engage in transparent discussions with all parties involved to find sustainable solutions that will alleviate the burden on businesses and the general public.