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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Trouble Looms for Nigerians at the Pumps: As the Queues Reappear

It’s no longer news that the queues have resurfaced in filling stations across the country. With the seeming scarcity of petroleum products-particularly Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol)-pump prices have jumped up from the approved price of N 97 per litre to as much as N 130 to N 150 per litre in some places.

A couple of days ago, I wanted topping up my tank and drove to one of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) Mega Filling stations with the hope of getting fuel, only to meet
a long queue that you had to tip the man at the gate before you could gain access to buy fuel. Disappointed, I drove to another less busy private filling station hoping that I’d get fuel if anything at a slightly increased price-maybe N100. To my utter disappointment, the price on the meter read N 130! I was appalled! I was compelled to buy knowing I had very limited alternatives.

The thing here is, while Nigerians are still getting to grips with the saga surrounding the missing $ 20 billion from the NNPC accounts, coupled with the controversial removal of the Central Bank Chief Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, we are now being hit by another wave of fuel scarcity.  Whether the scarcity is artificial or real; if it would last for a few days, few weeks or perhaps months, Nigerians will be forced to go through the hardships that go with fuel scarcity.

Transportation has already been drastically affected as fewer vehicles are plying the roads due to inability to get fuel; transport fares have shot up dramatically by as much as 50% to 100% in some parts of the country! Prices of food items, transportation and even social services are already on the increase following the current scarcity situation.

Rumours making the rounds have it that the Federal Government has plans of hiking again the pump prices of petroleum products. Some schools of thought give possible reasons behind the present scarcity and purported fuel price hike as being:

  1. A strategy by the government to distract the populace from the current issues surrounding the missing $ 20 billion from NNPCs coffers
  2. By increasing the pump price of petrol, NNPC can re-generate lost revenue in the medium-long term

However, considering current economic realities, neither of these two reasons appeals to the senses of the average Nigerian. Nigerian’s have barely recovered from the effects of the 1st January 2012 fuel price increment; a decision that sparked up major protests, shutdown and economic turmoil that Nigerians will not forget in a hurry.

Seems to me that the Federal Government is either being too insensitive to the economic realities of Nigerians or are oblivious of the issues facing Nigerians daily. Following the subsidy removal and fuel price hike of 2012, Nigerians are yet to reap the full economic benefits of the gains of the policy change. Rather, they keep being fed with stories of loss of funds to graft and theft via subsidy thieves and corrupt government officials, coupled with more and more unfulfilled promises of jobs and wealth creation that have only ended up creating more wealth for the corrupt.

Nigerians are yet to enjoy the good roads, constant power supply, functional rail transport and other economic benefits promised as a direct result of the funds saved from the subsidy removal. The perception of the average Nigerian on the street to the subsidy issue is like that of a “hoax” that was used to fleece the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg.

Trouble sadly seems to be brewing for Nigerians at the pumps as the queues have reappear in virtually every major town and city ,and fuel prices begin to get to the absurd. If the Federal Government does not want the incidents of January 2012 to repeat themselves or even worse, they better not consider the option of fuel price hike, as Nigerians would most likely vehemently resist such increment and with dire consequences.

 By Precious Nwanganga

Precious is a Sales Professional, a Marketing and Distribution Specialist. He is a writer, a blogger, a Trainer, Entrepreneur & Strategist. He blogs about Business, Career Tips, Health Tips, Ideas, Politics, Society, Issues, News, Music and MONEY… He tweets with the twitter handle @peepmoney

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