In a startling revelation before the Nigerian Senate, the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers has accused terminal operators of relentlessly inflating gas prices, exacerbating the struggle for accessibility, and undermining the well-being of ordinary Nigerians. Led by the association’s president, Oladapo Olatunbosun, the marketers shed light on a troubling scenario where natural liquefied gas supply remains consistent, yet manipulative forces disrupt its availability to the public.
Olatunbosun unequivocally identified certain marketers as the ‘cabals,’ acquiring the product at a lower cost and reselling it at exorbitant prices. He lamented the dire consequences this has for the average Nigerian, emphasizing the current cost of gas as a significant burden. With prices reaching N1,200 per kilogram, Olatunbosun questioned the feasibility of allowing students or low-income workers to afford even the most basic necessities.
Highlighting Nigeria’s standing as the second-largest gas producer in Africa after Algeria, Olatunbosun expressed concern that, despite this abundance, citizens face difficulties accessing affordable gas. He argued that the disproportionate increase in prices imposed by the cabals undermines the government’s efforts to make essential services more accessible.
The marketers alleged that terminal operators often cite foreign exchange rates as justification for escalating gas prices, despite transactions being conducted exclusively in the national currency. Olatunbosun challenged this narrative, pointing out that the transactions with Nigerian Natural Liquefied Gas (NNLG) are completed in naira, debunking the purported need for forex-related price hikes.
If the current issues are not promptly addressed, the marketers warned of an alarming escalation in gas prices by December, with a potential sale of 12.5 kg of gas reaching N25,000. Olatunbosun painted a grim picture, cautioning that if unchecked, gas could transform into a luxury item accessible only to the affluent, perpetuating an unjust disparity in society.
Lamenting the low utilization levels in Nigeria, Olatunbosun explained that while the country operates at 1.2 million metric tons per year, it should ideally be operating at 6 to 7 million metric tons per year. The rising gas prices have led to a decline in consumption, currently ranging between 750,000 and 900,000 metric tons per year, exacerbating the hardship faced by ordinary Nigerians.
Olatunbosun attributed the absence of regulation as a significant factor enabling the cabals to exploit the situation. Despite the awareness of Nigerian Natural Liquefied Gas (NNLG), the lack of intervention raises questions about regulatory efficacy. The marketers’ plea to the Senate underscores the vulnerability of voiceless citizens and the urgent need for intervention to rectify the injustices inflicted on the populace.
In conclusion, Olatunbosun emphasized the necessity of profitable investment without compromising public interests. He argued that allowing the cabals to stifle industry growth could further deepen the crisis, urging the Senate to intervene and prevent monopolization that would impede fair competition and hinder the industry’s progress.
Senate chairman on gas, Jarigbe Jarigbe, provided reassurance that the Senate would not let the issue slide, promising a thorough inquiry into the alleged exploitative practices. The unfolding gas crisis is now at the forefront of legislative attention as Nigeria grapples with ensuring fair and affordable access to this essential energy source.