Kyari: Tinubu Has Directed Palliatives Be Put in Place to Cushion Effect of Subsidy Removal
As public outcry over the sudden hike in the pump price of petrol continues, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, says President Bola Tinubu has directed that palliatives be put in place to cushion the effect of the increase on Nigerians. Kyari disclosed this yesterday while fielding questions from journalists at the end of a closed-door meeting with members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
On same day, Kyari said during an interview on ARISE News Channel that the adjustment in petrol pump price was not fixed. He stressed that prices would continue to change in reaction to market forces in the coming weeks. But organised labour, under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said it was still weighing the situation in the aftermath of the petrol price increment. NLC said it would not hesitate to take all necessary actions within the ambit of the law to protect the interest of Nigerian workers and the masses.
NLC disclosed that as part of moves to galvanise action against the government policy, the union would hold an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today in Abuja, to decide on appropriate steps to take over the massive increase in fuel price. In Edo State, Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), yesterday, blocked a section of the busy Benin/Lagos highway in protest against the increase in petrol pump price. The protest, which also took place at different locations in the state, obstructed vehicular movement.
However, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) called on the federal government not to be distracted by the tricks of those it described as discredited self-serving labour leaders and unscrupulous oil marketers who would seize every opportunity to undermine government’s good intentions. But global human rights body, Amnesty International, advised that the removal of fuel subsidy must not exacerbate poverty in the country.
The House of Representatives at plenary yesterday, stated that with the petroleum subsidy removal, the federal government should forthwith suspend all Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts. The House said NNPC should act according to the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in order to ensure that the country was not short-changed in production, lifting, and sale of crude.
NNPC had on Wednesday adjusted the pump price of petrol by nearly 200 per cent, from N195 per litre to between N488 and N557 nationwide. The development followed the announcement by Tinubu during his inaugural address on Monday that fuel subsidy was “gone”. Tinubu promised to re-channel the expected savings to education, health and other sectors.
NLC had expressed displeasure over the new pricing template, describing it as vexatious. Furthermore, Kyari, while speaking with the APC NWC members, noted that NNPC could not continue to be the sole importer of petrol in the country. The GCEO said, “There is a gradual process now of making a flexible and single exchange rate regime. Everyone will be able to have access to foreign exchange and there is a transition going on now and the NNPC cannot continue to be the sole importer. We know that this is going to vanish and the market will stabilise this.”
On the rehabilitation of the four national refineries, Kyari said, “There is an on-going process of rehabilitation and one of the refineries will come on stream this year. The second will come on stream next year and the third will come in 2025.” The NNPC boss said it was very obvious that the country could no longer afford the subsidy payment and it had to be removed.
Lassa fever: NCDC confirms 162 deaths first-half 2023
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday, informed that Lassa fever has killed no less than 162 persons since the start of year 2023. The number of states said to have recorded death toll to the ravaging disease is put at 28. They are – Ondo, Edo, Bauchi, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Kogi, Taraba, Gombe, Enugu Kano, Jigawa, Oyo and FCT, among others.
The PUNCH reports on May 1, 2023, that the mortality toll of Lassa fever in Nigeria was disclosed to be 154 while it recorded 897 confirmed cases and a total of 4,908 suspected cases. In its 16th-week Lassa fever situation report, the NCDC explained that the 897 confirmed cases were recorded from 26 states and 103 local government areas from January 1 to April 23, 2023.
The Centre, on Thursday, disclosed this in its 20th-week Lassa fever situation report shared on its Twitter handle (@NCDCgov), adding that 944 confirmed cases and 5, 593 suspected cases of the disease were recorded so far since January 2023. “Cumulatively, from week 1 to week 20, 2023, 162 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 17.2% which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.8%).
“In total, for 2023, 28 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 106 LGAs,” the centre’s 20th-week report read. It maintained that, “the number of suspected cases increased, compared to that reported for the same period in 2022.”