CLAIM: Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant for Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari claimed on twitter that fuel was sold at N600 per litre on Easter Sunday in 2013.
No Evidence: There is no evidence to show that fuel was sold for N600 per litre in 2013 as claimed by Garba Shehu.
The recent hike in fuel prices got a lot of Nigerians airing different opinions, with many holding the view that the hike in price is too sudden.
Amidst this, the Spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, on September 8, 2020 posted a picture of Punch Newspapers, tagging it with the claim that fuel was sold for N600 on Easter Day in the year 2013, a period when opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was in power.
The front page of Punch Newspapers posted by Garba Shehu had a boldly written inscription “Petrol sells for N600 per Litre”.
Garba Shehu’s tweet reads: “Don’t allow the PDP to deceive you. Amidst acute shortages, they sold petrol for N600 on Easter Sunday. (See Punch published on that day)”
As of September 8, the post garnered over 3,000 comments, over 2,000 persons retweeted while over 3,000 persons liked the post.
While some of the respondents disagreed with the claim, others believed and supported the claim.
A twitter user identified as PDP2023, with the handle @AtikuZo responded to Shehu’s tweet; “There was never a time in history where the official pump price of fuel was N600, don’t be deceived by APC fraudsters in govt”.
Another respondent on twitter, Asad with the handle @Asad_Mukty responded, “Agreed, how much is bag of rice back then? The foreign rice not the local”.
We reached out to Garba Shehu on the telephone to confirm if he was referring to the official price or the black market price, but his line was not reachable. Dubawa sent him a text message on the same issue which he replied.
His words, “The Punch Newspaper published the cost of fuel on Easter holiday season. I attached a bromide copy of the paper along with my post. Please check the paper”.
The Punch publication was not found after a thorough surf of the internet, but Dubawa traced a re-published version of same article to Pan African News Wire
Pan African News Wire had republished it on May 25, 2015 and not on Easter Day in 2013. It became much clearer and more convincing that the report published by Pan African News was the same with that of Punch; the same pictures were used and Pan African Newswire, an international medium, also requested readers to contact Punch editor for further clarification.
A closer look at the picture posted by Garba Shehu shows that the report was done in Monday May 25, 2015 and not 2013 Easter Sunday as claimed.
Black market verification
An excerpt of publication: “Our correspondents reported on Sunday that petrol had dried up in almost all the filling stations nationwide, while black marketers capitalised on the prevailing scarcity by selling the product in jerry cans for between N200 and N600 per litre in places like Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Kaduna and Oyo states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory”
By this, Punch predicated its 2013 headline on the strength of findings by its reporters. However, There was no information as to the locations where fuel was sold at the maximum price quoted and now being referenced by Mr Shehu.
Dubawa went further to research on the prevailing black market prices of fuel in 2013 but the exercise yielded no result as there is no repository of such data.
Official price verification
Dubawa then turned its verification to the official price of fuel, given that Mr Shehu neither stated which price regime he was referring to.
A BBC publication on a detailed breakdown of prices from June 2000 to May 2020 did not reflect that fuel was ever sold for N600 per litre anytime during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as claimed by Garba Shehu.
Also, a research published in 2018 tagged “Oil Subsidy Management and Performance of the Nigerian Economy” shows the hike of fuel prices in Nigeria from 1978 to 2016.
Table-1 of the research reveals that from the year 2011-2015 during the former late President , Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, fuel was sold at between N65 and N145.
However, from 1978 during the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime to Jonathan’s administration in 2015, official fuel pump price was never N600. The official fuel pump prices ranged between 5kobo and N145 from the year 1978-2015.
Verification from petroleum body
We reached out to the President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Sanu Abdu Fari. Mr Fari told Dubawa there has never been a time in Nigeria when the official price of PMS was sold at N600 per litre.
“Such prices (high prices) are sometimes sold at the black market but never a time was the official fuel price per litre sold for N600 in Nigeria”, Sanu said in shock.
With all the facts gathered on previous administrations, there is no evidence to back Garba Shehu’s claim that fuel was ever sold at N600.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Today FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.