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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Fuel scarcity and pain on citizens

By Adedotun Ajayi

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In the past, Nigerians solely depended on the exportation of agricultural products for foreign exchange. This continued until the discovery of oil in Nigeria.

The discovery of crude oil ushered Nigeria into the comity of oil producing nations, and Nigeria has since then risen to be one of the leading suppliers of crude oil in the world.

Unfortunately, Nigeria lacks the capacity to refine the crude oil that she produces, thus we depend on other countries to supply us with refined oil products after we have sold the crude oil to them, why do we have to keep importing the refined products of petroleum when God has blessed us with the raw variety in abundant quantities? It is high time Nigerians began to maximally benefit from them.

Recently, there was a reported case of adulterated fuel in the country. This was followed by alleged fuel scarcity in some parts of Nigeria, leading to panic buying and long queues in filling stations.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had directed that the adulterated fuel be withdrawn from circulation.

The recall process prompted many fuel stations to shut their gates because they had no fuel to sell.

Unfortunately, Ondo, the sunshine state was not spared, as the long queues could be seen in almost all the major filling stations.

The current shortage of fuel nationwide has had a devastating effect on Ondo state, particularly Akure, the state capital, and other major towns, Many have resorted to trekking to their destinations seeing that many public transport providers are trapped in the filling stations waiting to get fuel.

The scarcity made thousands of motorists, both private and commercial to spend several hours on queue in petrol stations, in desperate to get the commodity. Transportation fares have also gone up across the state.

For instance, a drop which used to be N50 has gone up to N100 and in some cases N150.

The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that its agencies are on the field and are visiting fuel stations to ensure that fuel is available for sale.

This was disclosed last week in a statement by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

This is regrettable, and the Federal Government sympathises with the citizenry over the unforeseen hardship, occasioned by the inevitable scarcity.

“Let me once again appeal to Nigerians to be patient with government in finding lasting solutions to the crisis,” Sylva said.

He also appreciated the efforts of the NNPC towards solving the crisis, as the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority has been visiting fuel stations to ensure that the situation normalises quickly.

He also urged Nigerians to be patient in finding lasting solutions to the crisis as the fuel crisis is not a time to trade blames or query anyone but a time to come together to salvage the plight of the average Nigerian.

The State Task Force on Petroleum team led by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties, Doyin Odebowale patrolled major filling stations in Akure, the state capital to monitor the situation.

In a television interview monitored by The Hope, Odebowale said there was no genuine reason for petrol dealers to hoard the commodity.

He maintained that the state government would not tolerate the unnecessary hardship experienced by its citizenry because of the present fuel situation.

He said “We, on our part, will resist and sanction any untoward practice, conceived or executed, to engender hardship in the state”

“Any dealer caught hoarding fuel will be arrested and prosecuted with all the petrol found in their tanks given to the people for free, while the business premises affected shall be sealed also”

Many motorists and okada operators lamented that some marketers shut their  stations with full stock in the daylight with the purpose of selling at night to maximize profits.

Motorists and commuters expressed frustration over the current scarcity of fuel.

A motorist, Femi Onileola, who spoke with The Hope, at NNPC filling station, after Sango, Ado Road, Akure, lamented that apart from the challenges he went through on the queue, he and other people still paid extra charges between N400 nd N1000 before they could get the commodity. He said “This is very unfair, a whole NNPC is making us go through so much stress, before you get N1,000 worth of fuel, you have to agree to pay N100, it goes like that, it is like they are collecting 10 percent of what you buy, we want to use this medium to appeal to the state government to do something about the situation, so we can go back to our normal lives”

Oluwaseyi Abidakun, a nail technician in Akure, said “in this area, we have electricity just for two hours per day. We depend largely on petrol  here. However, getting the fuel I need to power my generator for my business has become a rather difficult task in recent weeks, because of the continuous scarcity nationwide.

We buy at an exorbitant rate and it is almost impossible to increase our price list because most of our customers cannot afford it,”

A barber, who goes by the “Da Law”, told The Hope how the ripple effect of the scarcity had affected his home and business,

He said:“For some time now, I have been unable to work properly because I have difficulties fueling my generator. This is affecting my personal health and that of my family because we can’t feed properly like we used to. We can’t even preserve our food the right way because electricity is poor. We depend solely on fuel, we pray it gets better this week.”

On the other hand, Abdulrasaq jimoh, businessman and vehicle owner said

“Just imagine, the country is still battling with insecurity, poverty, and now fuel crisis yet nobody has ever been held responsible for all our pains, sufferings, and the poor services that we are getting. The best way forward, is t conduct a thorough investigation into the adulterated fuel issue. The aim will be to fish out the culprits, who must be made to face the full wrath of the law, no matter whose ox is gored. This will serve as deterrence to others. Unless and till someone takes responsibility to deliver services to citizens or to resign for failure to deliver services to the nation, this evil may not end soon.”

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