By Ola Ajayi and DAUD OLATUNJI
“What type of country is this now? I have been standing here for the past two hours waiting to buy fuel. The petrol assistants said they are not ready to sell fuel. Where do I go from here? I sell groundnuts to fend for my children and I depend so much on fuel. Can’t these our leaders just consider the masses?”
These were the complaints of Mrs. Oyebamiji Lucia, a petty trader in Ibadan. She was among thousands of people waiting endlessly for fuel which has once again, become, a scarce commodity. Long queue of vehicles in the ancient city of Ibadan is endless in filling stations with motorists complaining bitterly about the scarcity.
Due to what a legal practitioner, Mr. Wale Adeyemo described as “artificial scarcity”, many marketers except some major ones have capitalized on it as the products now sell between N105 and N125 per litre.
When Saturday Vanguard went around Ibadan metropolis, marketers like Oando, Texaco and few others still sell at the normal pump fuel price of N97 but the attendants demand some money to compensate them for doing you a ‘favour’.
The scarcity has made black market operators at Sabo area in Mokola to thrive. A four-litre keg of fuel sells between N2,000 and N2,800. Besides, the content has been adulterated. As the scarcity drags, some private marketers use the cover of darkness to sell the products mostly to black market operators at exorbitant prices.
After several hours of endless queue without any hope in sight, Mr. Adeyemo said this fuel crisis would not be resolved until “we stop deceiving ourselves”.
According to Adeyemo, “we don’t even know the cause of this scarcity. We asked the petrol attendants, they said they did not know. They said that all they know is that they have been lifting fuel at the rate of N94 and they have to send it for N100 and N105 after adding some head costs.
It is only major marketers like Oando that are selling at the normal price of N97. Except we have our own refinery working at maximum capacity, we shall continue to experience this kind of situation. Let private refineries spring up and when this occurs, the fuel price will fall.
This kind of monopoly of our oil sector by the Federal Government is not good at all”. In his views, Mr. Solarin Adekunle, a hospitality expert said “up till now, the Government has not considered it necessary to inform us what actually led to this unpleasant situation. When a well-organised nation in a developed world is having problem of this nature, they don’t treat their citizens as fools.
They keep them abreast of the situation. See how we are suffering and nobody has deemed it fit to tell us why and when this will stop. If they want to increase the pump fuel price, let them be bold enough to tell all Nigerians and be ready for the consequences of their action.
They should not use this scarcity to impose a new price on us. They should know that Nigerians are wiser now. We are no longer monkeys they can sway their opinions anyhow”.
Corroborating these views, a petrol attendant at Oando who claimed anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said all they saw was that they stopped supplying fuel and they could not say precisely what led to the causes.
Speaking in the same vein, a transporter, Mr. Jerry Mbanu said it is an abomination that Nigeria is one of the major producers of fuel and we cannot boast of our own refineries.
“When some small countries which are not oil producers can boast of refineries, we, as major producer, cannot. It is a shameful thing. If we have local refineries, there would be jobs for at least 10,000 jobless youth roaming the streets”.
It’s lamentation galore in Abeokuta:
There seems to be no immediate solution in sight to the lingering fuel scarcity across the country as most depots are in short supply at the time of this report. Already, the impact of the scarcity is taking adverse effect on socio-economic activities in some parts of the country due to increase in transport fares. In Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, the situation is the same as most filling stations in town are not selling the product.
There were long queues of vehicles at the premises of the few filling stations that have the product.As against the normal price of N97 per litre, the few stations that have fuel are selling between N100 and N120 per litre. Motorists in Abeokuta and it environs have continued to accuse marketers in the state of hoarding the product with the intention of maximising their profit.
Some of the people who spoke with our correspondent lamented that life has not been easy for them as a result of the increase in the cost of commodities. A driver who pleaded anonymity said, “ the transport fares have increased geometrically following the fuel scarcity in the state”.
Many filling stations have been under lock and key since the crisis. Some were hoarding the fuel and selling it at midnight and early hours.
This acute shortage of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, has crippled government and economic activities in Ogun State.
Ogun state government seems to have paid dearly for it as the scarcity bites harder.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that due to the fuel crisis, the state water corporation has been rendered almost redundant .
Most small scale businesses have been crippled because of the shortage of the PMS.
Meanwhile, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps in the state have continued to seal off some filling stations for selling above the official pump price.
Also, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigerian has blamed the persistent fuel scarcity in the country on the late release of Allocation schedule by the Government.
The Treasurer of the Association in the Southwest, Alhaji Surajudeen Baba who spoke with Saturday Vanguard maintained that the scarcity would continue to linger except there is a tremendous increase in supply to various depots.
The Southwest Treasurer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Surajudeen Bada stated that the scarcity was bitting harder because marketers were unable to lift the product at most of the depots adding, those filling stations that were selling the product have exhausted their supply while others are expecting the supply from depot.
He blamed the acute scarcity of the product on the failure in the release of schedule for allocation by the concerned.