The Lagos State Government (Govt) has warned citizens to avoid panic buying and stockpiling of petrol. The State Government also asked locals not to patronize black marketeers, claiming that with the new petrol system, market forces would set prices.
Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, said on Friday during an on-the-spot examination of several filling stations in the state’s Ikoyi district.
Dr. Hamzat told journalists during the exercise that there is no need for panic buying and stockpiling of fuel because marketers have guaranteed the government of its availability in the state.
He stated that the purpose of the journey was to walk around and assess the situation, stressing that the difficulty is not a lack of fuel, but rather an increase in price.
Hamzat urged Nigerians to embrace deregulation, claiming that the benefits of eliminating subsidies outweigh the drawbacks.
“In terms of volume, according to the managers of fuel stations visited, we have enough so there is no need to rush to buy. There is no need to patronise black marketers,” he said.
“The regime of fuel subsidy was announced to have ended. Lagos is always the epicenter of everything, 40 percent of cabs are in Lagos, and whatever affects PMS, affects Lagos. So the essence is to go around and assess the situation.
“For us, it is to make sure that there is no scarcity, people don’t need to rush. Prices have gone up but in terms of volume, there is enough volume. So there is no question of scarcity.
“Don’t patronise black marketers. The bottom line is very simple because there is no regime of fuel subsidy again.
“People don’t have the incentive to hoard anymore. It was sold for N185 in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin selling for N650, that is why we claim the volume is high, so the volume will crash.”
Hamzat went on to say that revenue generation has been a big concern in the country, saying that the recent subsidy reduction would allow the government to redirect cash to other sectors.
The Deputy Governor maintained, citing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that the fuel subsidy is not sustainable, noting that it benefited less than 13 percent of the total population while leaving out 87 percent.
He said: “There are 48,000km of borders in Nigeria, even if you deploy the military, the Navy, people will steal because we are talking of market, we are subsidising fuel for other countries.
“Various commentators and IMF have told us we are spending trillions subsidising substantially rich people because we are spending on 13 percent of the less privileged and 87 percent for people who can afford it. It doesn’t make sense.
“So if we can plow that money back, then it makes it easier to invest in education, health, and others. So the President will be able to harness it and be able to use it for various projects.”
The Deputy Governor also noted that the government is aware of the effect of the removal because it will affect transportation prices and commodities but in the long run, things will get better.
“I understand that the transportation fares have gone higher but the only thing is that it will get a little tougher before it gets better. Remember, the prices in Lagos will be different from Ibadan. And even in Lagos, because of efficiency, prices will differ but you are not subsidising anybody’s inefficiency.
“It is a question of time, in just two or three months, things will stabilise. So, if the international prices crash, they will also crash. Competition will always make it crash, market forces will determine the prices,” he said.