FACT CHECK: Did Lai Mohammed say increase in fuel price would reduce road accidents?

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CLAIM: A blogpost attributed a claim to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, purporting that the federal government’s panacea to reducing road accidents in December was to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol to N600.

VERDICT: False

FULL TEXT

The claim is contained in the headline of a post published by a blog known as igbotimesmagazin.online. The post also featured on the blog’s facebook page with the same name, and It generated multiple likes and shares.

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The headline of the post reads: “We are trying to increase fuel price to N600 per liter this December to avoid road accidents and decrease number of people able t(o) travel”

Fuel Scarcity in the Yuletide Season

Long queues at filling stations, fuel hoarding and hike of fuel price are inalienable characteristics of the Yuletide season in Nigeria. This year is no exemption as the queues are back to filling stations across the country, while fuel price is no more uniform.

Media reports confirm that PMS, even though scarce, now sells between N230 to N400. This has caused hardship for many Nigerians who are traveling to different parts of the country to celebrate the Christmas. They are confronted with shortage of public vehicles, scarcity of fuel and high fares. Public transport operators who have increased fares blamed the situation on the current fuel scarcity, bad roads, increased cost of vehicle maintenance and insecurity on travel routes.

Media reports also show a sudden rise in road accidents in December, particularly in the Southwest region.

VERIFICATION

Meanwhile, how true is the claim credited to Lai Mohammed?

Ripples Nigeria found that the body of blogpost which purportedly contains details of the claim is not consistent with the headline. In the post, it was stated that the Minister had an exclusive interview with Reuters, an international media, in London.

Using the quotes in the post, we found the said interview which Mohammed granted Reuters. It should be noted that the exclusive interview was granted in July, that is about six months ago.

Contrary to the claim in the blogpost, the Minister explained to Reuters, the federal government’s reluctance to totally remove the fuel scarcity even though he thought it was the right thing to do. He explained that the government realized that it was not the right time to remove the subsidy as many citizens had been pushed farther into poverty by the COVID-19 pandemic

“When you consider the chaos, the social disharmony and … instability such an action (of abolishing subsidies) would facilitate, is it worth it? I don’t think so,” Lai Mohammed said in the wide-ranging interview with Reuters.

Other various issues discussed in the interview include insecurity, attacks on oil installations, climate change and secessionist agitations.

CONCLUSION

No where in the quoted interview with Reuters did the minister say fuel price would be increased to N600 to address accidents or prevent traveling. The blogger only republished a 6-month-old interview with a misleading headline.

By Oluwatobi Odeyinka

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