AN economist and former Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, seems to have eloquently localised an English proverb; “penny wise, pound foolish” in Nigeria, while describing the prevailing upsurge in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which is attributed to federal government’s export drive thereby forcing Nigerians to pay more than double the normal price for gas.
Yusuf said the surge in the price of gas is not only inimical to the drive to promote the use of clean energy and protect the environment, but also has implication for poverty as it will make access to food more difficult, a situation which can be described in Nigerian parlance as “Kobo wise, Naira foolish.”
Yusuf also described the difficult situation average Nigerians are being made to go through as “a case of double jeopardy,” noting that it is bad that food has become very expensive which is now compounded by the cost of cooking the food becoming prohibitive.
He said gas pricing needs to reflect the reality that we are a gas producing country by leveraging on the huge gas resources to make gas more accessible to the common man.
Yusuf said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday while reacting to the continuous increase in LPG (cooking gas) price.
NAN reports that the hike started in April 2021 when gas per kilogramme was sold for between N280 and N300 but the price later rose to N750 per kilogramme.
At the moment, 20 tonnes of LPG goes for more than N9.5 million as against N4 million it was sold previously. A 12.5 kg cylinder of gas is sold at N9,300 as against N8,500 two weeks ago.
Yusuf, who is the CEO of Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, warned that there could be a relapse of accelerated deforestation if the spike was not checked. He said it was noteworthy that significant progress was made in getting a good percentage of the population to transition from the use of firewood and kerosene to use of LPG.
He said although the campaign had won a lot of converts even in many villages but the spike in LPG price may reverse the gains and it would not augur well for the preservation of the environment.
“We may see a relapse of accelerated deforestation if the spike is not checked. The sharp increase in price of LPG also has implication for poverty. This is making access to food more difficult,” he said.
“It is bad enough that food has become very expensive. Now the cost of cooking the food has become prohibitive. This is a case of double jeopardy for the average citizen.
“Gas pricing needs to reflect the reality that we are a gas producing country.
“We should leverage the huge gas resources to make gas more accessible to the common man. The huge gas reserves should ordinarily also offer an opportunity for us to leapfrog in our industrialisation drive and environmental protection.
“We cannot be exporting gas while there is acute scarcity in the country. There should be some balance in this regard,’’ he said.
NAN gathered that the oil and gas stakeholders recently met with government representatives and regulatory agencies to come up with suitable option to adopt in order to crash the gas prices.