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Marketers meet Senate, accuse cabals for gas price hike

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The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers has accused terminal operators of incessantly increasing the price of gas, exploiting and limiting its availability to Nigerians.

The marketers, led by the association’s president, Oladapo Olatunbosun. on Monday, told the Senate that the Nigeria Natural Liquefied Gas has been consistent with its supply but the cabals have disrupted the availability of gas to Nigerians.

Olatunbosun labelled some of the marketers as the cabals who were buying the product cheaply from the source and selling it at a very high price to them.

Olatunbosun explained: “The cabals are making it difficult for the average Nigerian to have access to gas. As of today, gas is sold by these terminal owners for N16.8 million for 20 metric tonnes whereas NNLG sells to them for a little bit less than N9 million.

“Some of them are NAVGas, NIPCOPLC, Matrix Energy Ltd, Prudent Energy Ltd, Shafa Energy, Techno Gas, StockGap Ltd, Mobil, Pan Ocean Limited, NNPC, OLogbo, NSPC Apapa, SHELL, Dozzy LPG terminal.”

“When people go to fill their gas today, the least they get is N1,200 per kilogramme – imagine the pains of Nigerians. In the Nigeria of today, can a student or menial worker afford to cook a cup of beans with a N1,200 cost of gas?” he asked.

The marketer explained to the Senate that Nigerians have no reason to buy gas at such a price.

Olatunbosun noted: “Even countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and the rest are no match to Nigerians in terms of gas production but the prices of gas in Nigeria is cheaper in those countries that here where we are the second largest producer of the gas production in Africa after Algeria, yet our people cannot afford to cook with gas.

“We produce gas more than we import. In fact, the proportion imported is so insignificant, but these cabals have refused to allow Nigerians to enjoy the dividends of this production and the efforts put in by the government.”

The marketers alleged that the terminal operators usually state forex as one of the reasons for the increase in the prices of gas whereas the transactions were done purely in naira.

The President of the association explained, “These cabals have also made the practice of hiding behind forex but the question is does NNLG get paid in dollars? No. All the transactions are completed in naira. What is the role of forex in this situation? Where is the import evidence?

“You buy gas for N9 million from NNLG and pay in naira, then you sell the same gas for N16 million and blackmail the government.

“When people get to our plants and we tell them the price, they start weeping and cursing the government whereas, the government has done their best to make life bearable to the people.”

The marketers further warned that if measures were not taken to adequately address these issues, by December, 12,5kg gas would sell for N25,000.

Olatunbosun added: “If we don’t rise up and checkmate the whole thing, the gas would become a luxurious product available to only the rich.

“By December, these cabals might start to sell 20 metric tonnes for N200 million. This would mean that gas will sell for 2,000 per kg and N25,000 for 12.5kg.”

The marketers further lamented that the utilization level in Nigeria was quite low due to poverty and other factors.

He said: “We are operating 1.2 million metric tonnes per annum but if we look at our population, we ought to be operating around 6 to 7m metric tonnes per annum but due to availability and affordability; we can’t operate at that level yet.

“And when gas prices went up, the level of consumption dropped, at the moment, the level of usage is between 750,000 to 900,000 metric tonnes per annum.

“And our forest will suffer for it, people will go into the deforestation to get wood and charcoals to cook.”

Olatunbosun noted: “This is the kind of hardship that the few cabals have subjected poor Nigerians to which is worrisome particularly because it would continue to sell the wrong perception of this administration to Nigerians as not doing anything for the public.

“The problem is that there is no regulation, NNLG is aware of all these but they have refused to interfere in the issue.

“It seems like the voiceless have no one to defend them, hence the reason why we have come to the Senate to cry out for help for the poor Nigerians.”

He further clarified that there must be room for profit making for investment that will not jeopardize the interest of the people, that will aid us to deepen the usage of gas.

He stated, “They are investors, and we are not against them making profits because they put in their resources but what is not allowed in any part of the world is making super profit.

“These cabals don’t want the industry to grow, because if it grows, more investors will into the business and they will see that there is a gap.

“So, they want utilization level to drop, so investors will not come in and they will be able to dominate and monopolise the industry.”

The Senate chairman on gas, Jarigbe Jarigbe, assured the marketers that the Senate would not let the issue slide.

He noted that the issue was a very important National issue, that required such attention to it.

Senator Jarigbe said: “I have listened to you on behalf of the committee and the Senate.

“You know that this administration has talked about improving gas supply, LPG and there is a new revolution in terms of Compressed National Gas for vehicles to cushion the effect of the Subsidy removal.

“As it concerns your complaints that NLNG sells to the terminal owners for about 10m for 20 metric tonnes and they sell to you the markets with about N7 million margin; which would have a negative multiplier effect in the value chain of that to the final consumer, this is what the Senate will not agree with. And I know the executive will not agree with it either because that is not the intention of Mr. President.”

He added: “I want to thank you for your courage because it would have been possible for you to compromise at this stage but you decided to speak up for the common man.

“I would do more than what you have done. When the Senate President on a lighter note said Nigerians have to Breathe, it doesn’t mean for the very poor, it’s for Nigerians.

“We must allow ourselves to breathe, there is nobody that is not using gas today except those in the interior villages.

“With the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, we will do our best as a Senate to support you and support Nigerians because we were voted to represent our people and it is our job to protect them.”

“We promise to match words with action,” he noted.

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