After a long break of over a year, fuel scarcity is back. Nigerians have been grateful for the availability of fuel for this long period and the peace associated with it. No hustling to buy fuel, no long frustrating queues, no waking up early in the morning to go and queue for fuel before the fuel station opens, no buying fuel for exorbitant prices from black market people, no parking your car out of frustration at home and using public transportation, no heinous traffic caused from a spillover of long fuel queues, and so many other things we have not experienced in this period. Unfortunately, the queues are back with all their bad characteristics. The government is claiming that they don’t have a plan to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit more popularly known as petrol. This we seriously hope is true, because we just can’t imagine how much higher the price of petrol can go from 145 naira.
The fuel scarcity started in Sokoto over the weekend and had spread to various parts of the country by monday. Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Kwara, Zaria and other states are currently experiencing scarcity. A lot of people are not happy about this development as they complained that this is the yuletide season and fuel scarcity will affect the celebrations. Some even accused the fuel marketers of causing the scarcity on purpose so they can sell petrol at increased prices during the Christmas season. A number of filling stations all around the country are closed and the ones still selling have taken matters into their own hands and are selling petrol at an increased price of 150 naira per litre although a few stations are still selling at 145 naira and NNPC retail stations are still selling at 143 naira. The long queues at the stations have spilled into major roads and caused serious traffics on roads, such as Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Ikorodu road, Abeokuta expressway, etc.
Fuel scarcity at its best- long queues causing traffic on the road.
Yesterday, the Federal Government gave the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Maikanti Baru, the order to clear the queues in filling stations in the country before weekend. While the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed released a statement that the government had no plan to increase the price of petrol and that there is enough petrol to last for one month even into the new year available on ground. Even though I seriously wonder why there is scarcity if it is available.
The fuel scarcity problems has been attributed to the lack of petrol products in the Apapa depots which is the provider of petrol to the other parts of the nation. Likewise, last week the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of under-supplying its members with petrol. The association alleged that the NNPC was also frustrating its members by reneging on the bulk purchase agreement it signed with them to supply the product at N133.28 per litre. However, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamad, denied the accusations and said the ex-depot price of N133.38 per litre and pump price of N143/N145 per litre had not changed. He also said the corporation had enough fuel to ensure seamless supply and distribution across the country. He attributed the scarcity to the winter period as there was an increased demand of petrol around the world during this period. He also said they had vessels at sea which they were expecting to come in soon, so everyone should be calm and there is no cause for alarm. He further advised people to desist from panic buying and storing petrol in their homes for safety sake.
So, that is it, we just have to take the word of the NNPC, Federal Government and hope that truly this is only a facade that will soon end and there will be no “actual” fuel scarcity to disturb our celebration.
Nigeria we hail thee…