From Chuks Collins
It was chaos in Awka, the Anambra state capital yesterday when it downed on the citizens that they had to fock out more than 131% of the initial cost of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) otherwise called petrol.
Worst hit was the commercial bus drivers and their opposite number cum customers, the commutters who had to engage each other in bitter arguments, and even fistcuffs before the situation sunk as the day wore on when they realised it was same situation everywhere.
A survey between bus drivers from Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia and Awka to Enugu revealed that the pump price that had ranged from N65-N80 per litre during the yuletide had gone up sharply to between N150- N180 per litre.
Many travellers were forced to return back home as short distance that hitherto cost N30 was now N50, and locations that were before now N100 is now N300, while Awka to Enugu which used to be N250 is now N1000
Despite all these the chief executive of Capital Oil, a petroleum products marketing and distribution company, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah has continued his kero-direct programme by giving out ten trucks of kerosene to the poor free.
The programme which had been on in oither states and some other parts of Anambra was brought to Awka for the first time on the New Year day.
And contrary to the belief of many that most operators in the petroleum sector were against subsidy removal, some key players in the petroleum importation and distribution sector of the nation’s economy are actually in support of deregulation and the withdrawal of the subsidy therein.
He had two days earlier told newsmen in Awka that he supports the subsidy removal and full deregulation of the industry and was certain some operators do too.
The oil mogul who fielded questions from journalists at the commissioning of a new St Peter’s Catholic Church, Nkwelle-Awka auditorium by Anthony Cardinal Okogie yesterday said that he supports deregulation in the oil industry. I am not afraid of it, because the removal of the subsidy will enable the masses benefit more from the proceeds of the sales and marketing of the products.”
According to him, “even the existence of the subsidy has not really helped us, the marketers, as it had tied our hands in fixing the prices or operating at the right rates. It has not really helped the industry develop at the right pace. So, I want deregulation”, the Capital oil boss noted.
Reacting on the encomiums on his company by the governors of Imo and Kaduna states on Kero Direct programme which provided citizens with free kerosene, Ubah said it was part of his company’s efforts to touch lives of Nigerians. He said the company has so far covered 60% percent of the states of the federation.
He described as ‘so far, so good’ the partnership his company has with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the possibility of distributing and sales of kerosene to the public direct at N50-N60 per litre.
Ubah, through his Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation would also distribute sewing machines, rice, kerosene, generators, and hairdressing items amongst others to widows and the indigent in Awka. He said the Foundation had been operating since five years now.
Governors Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna and Rochas Okorocha of Imo states had at the church service appreciated Ubah’s large heart, as well as the new church building benefactor, Dr Austine Ndigwe for their magnanimity and love of God and man.