The federal government has assured the people that it does not intend to jack up the prices of petroleum products.
The assurance, from Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), came against the backdrop of current panic in the market over a possible hike in fuel price.
The DPR also warned marketers not to sell above official prices and to desist from hoarding products to avoid creating artificial scarcity in the system and hardship for the consumers. "Meanwhile, all DPR offices nationwide have stepped up surveillance and monitoring of all products retail outlets to ensure compliance. All defaulters will be sanctioned in accordance with the law," it said in a statement.
This clarification, THISDAY gathered, followed speculations by some marketers that the government was planning to increase the price of petrol this year.
The price of diesel has since been deregulated while that of kerosene, which has however not been deregulated officially, is no longer sold at the official price of N50 per litre. While the marketers claimed that the supply of petrol was inadequate at this period, resulting in price hike in some cities, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said there was enough stock of products in its stock.
The Zonal Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers, Mr. Tokunbo Korodo, told THISDAY that there was shortage of supply. But the acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, said the corporation had consistently maintained the same level of supply for the past two years.
He said the NNPC had enough products, adding that the current tension might have been caused by some of the marketers involved in the distribution of products, who took advantage of Christmas to go on holiday.
The Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Olufemi Olawore, also said there was no cause for panic as the major marketers were importing enough products.