Though the deregulation of petrol is causing hardship across the polity, the initial pain will eventually give way to greater benefits among which include a significant reduction in the price and availability of the product at all times, according to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President stated this on Monday at the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat for Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and top government functionaries in Abuja.
Apparently, this was what happened when competition was allowed in the Telecoms sector, the tariffs were initially high, even the cost of SIM cards then was about N50,000, but today due to competition SIM cards are in fact given free of charge by operators.
Speaking on the impact of petrol deregulation, the President acknowledged the difficulty that the development is causing Nigerians, noting that "we will continue to seek ways and means of cushioning pains especially for the most vulnerable in our midst."
According to Buhari "We will also remain alert to our responsibilities to ensure that marketers do not exploit citizens by raising pump price arbitrarily. This is the role that government must now play through the PPRA.
"This explains why the PPRA made the announcement a few days ago setting the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers. The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will be keep coming down."
Still referring to the benefits of a deregulated market, President Buhari said petrol scarcity which usually caused long queues at petrol stations have been dealt with noting that "under this administration, Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices."
In the same vein the President explained his administration's tariff adjustment policy emphasizing that it was geared towards improving service delivery and addressing arbitrary increases.
According to him, "NERC, the industry regulator therefore approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service. Under this new arrangement, only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted.
"Those who get less than 12 hours supply, or the Band D and E Customers MUST be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase. This is the largest group of customers. Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering program is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers - creating thousands of jobs in the process."
Speaking on actions taken to addressing long standing challenges, the President said measures are being put in place to address the challenge faced by Nigerians not connected to the grid.
"... as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, we are providing Solar Home Systems to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months. We have already begun the process of providing financing support through the CBN for manufacturers and retailers of Off Grid Solar Home Systems and Mini-Grids who are to provide the systems.
"The Five million systems under the ESP's Solar Power Strategy will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation This means that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system," the President noted.