Fuel scarcity continued to make life unbearable for Nigerians on Friday, with black marketers exploiting the situation to sell petrol at exorbitant prices.
Reports across the country showed that motorists and commuters continued to face a lot of hardship as a result of the fuel scarcity which has also forced up transports fares. In most cases, a litre of petrol sold at the black market for an average of N300.
The majority of petrol stations in many parts of the country visited by Saturday Tribune remained without supplies, putting the few stations dispensing the commodity under the strain of dealing with large crowds of motorists and other buyers.
Many Nigerians who could not withstand the commotion and endless queues at the dispensing petrol stations decided to turn to the black market for respite where a litre of petrol sold for as high as N300 on the average.
This was the situation in Ilorin, Kwara State, where taxi and okada operators have increased their charges by 100 per cent. The same transport situation was observed in Kano and Kaduna states where four litres of petrol sold for between N1,000 and N2,000 in the black market.
In Enugu and other South East and South South states, petrol sold for an average of N300 in the black market with transporters jacking up their fares by as much as 200 per cent.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital; Osogbo, Osun State, and many other cities in the South West, the scare commodity sold for between N200 and N300 per litre in some cases in the black market, and N500 in extreme cases.
Crisis ’ll be over soon —Marketers
But the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said there had been improvement in supplies to its members across the country in the last few days.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on Friday, the chairman of IPMAN, Ejigbo depot branch, Lagos, Ayo Alanamu Balogun, stated that “if the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) can sustain the tempo at which they are supplying us now, the fuel scarcity will be over by the weekend.”
When asked what the NNPC is doing differently, he stated that “they have increased daily supply to our depots. We now get an average of 60 trucks daily as against six to seven trucks we used to get. We are working 24/7 and we are looking forward to our usual loading of 120 trucks per day.
“They (the NNPC) have also fixed the part of the pipeline that got burnt recently. They have resumed supplies to Ibadan depot and that part of the country (South West) will also experience improvement in fuel supplies,” Balogun said.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Depot Owners and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), Femi Adewole, stated that “all our members are dispensing and are doing so at N145 per litre. We operate with major marketers and as you know, all major marketers are also selling at N145 per litre.”
On what would be the lasting solution to the perennial fuel crisis in Nigeria, Adewole said “the government and the NNPC know what they did last year to ensure fuel availability during the Yuletide. We partnered them and ensured we had abundance last year. So, tell them to repeat same this year, I can assure you, there won’t be scarcity [again] during the entire Yuletide season and beyond.”
Do something now about fuel scarcity, PDP challenges Buhari
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to find a quick solution to the lingering fuel scarcity in all parts of the country.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Friday in Abuja, the leading opposition party reminded the president that as Minister of Petroleum Resources, it is his responsibility to resolve the issue quickly.
The PDP insisted that “it is not enough for the president to sit in his comfort zone and put the blame of the fuel scarcity at the doorsteps of marketers, while Nigerians continue to suffer untold hardship.”
According to the statement, “the unbearable fuel situation in the country is completely unacceptable.
“Mr President must become up and doing. He should not allow anybody to push him to claim that the issue of fuel scarcity is not under the purview of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“When he took office as President of Nigeria and also as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, he was aware that the buck stops at his table.
“Nigerians must not be made to suffer, especially at this time of the year when we have the Yuletide and New Year festivities, which come with a lot of activities.
“This is the same APC government that promised that it will make fuel available and affordable. Today, under their deceitful and corrupt watch, fuel has not only become extremely scarce, the price has also risen from where the PDP left it at N86.50 per litre to as high as N300 per litre and above.
“The effect is that transport fares, running costs, prices of food, medicines and other basic needs have soared beyond the reach of Nigerians, who are now groaning heavily under the hardship of APC misrule.
“But should Nigerians be subjected to this type of anguish and pain after supporting APC to win election in 2015? Does APC indeed deserve another support in 2019?”
“Whereas we know that the time is already up for the APC, we nevertheless urge Mr President to, within the remaining short time, rise up to his responsibilities as the minister of petroleum or immediately relinquish that position and allow a competent person to run the ministry. Enough is enough.”
The statement urged Nigerians not to despair but rekindle their hope in the future as the PDP “is now repositioned to regain power in 2019 and return the nation to the path of good governance, social stability and economic growth, for which it is generally known.”
Edo govt, DPR warn marketers against hoarding
To ensure a hassle-free Yuletide celebration and discourage hoarding of petroleum products this season, the Edo State government, in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has commenced monitoring of petrol stations in the state and has vowed to prosecute marketers found to be hoarding the products.
In a statement signed by the Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, the state explained that the exercise was meant to ensure that the products allocated to Edo State were dispensed to buyers at the official pump prices and save the people the hardship they suffer at the hands of shylock marketers.
“Edo State has been sufficiently supplied with petroleum products and received a fresh 465,000 litres this weekend, in addition to the 296,000 litres loaded to the state on Tuesday this week.
“Motorists and other users of petroleum products should refrain from panic buying that causes unnecessary queues at petrol stations and traffic congestion on major roads in the state.
“Marketers are hereby warned to ensure judicious dispensing of allocated products as government will not hesitate to apprehend and prosecute any erring marketer,” the statement said.
Govt working to end scarcity –DPR
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has stated that the government is working to address the scarcity and make fuel available nationwide.
Speaking with journalists in Jos, Plateau State, on Friday, the state Operations Manager of DPR, Mr Jeremiah Mashat, said there had been dip in the supply of fuel to the state in the past three weeks as 214 trucks were supplied to the state during the period.
“If you divide 214 trucks by 21 days, you will get an average of 10 trucks per day for a state that has 17 local government areas.
“You can see that some local governments may not get the product at all; that is how critical the situation is. Under normal condition, Plateau gets about 30 trucks per day, but it has now gone down to as low as 10 trucks per day.
“The fact is that there have been administrative challenges between government and marketers taking some time to be resolved. Once in a while government has to reconcile its records with the marketers, and that takes a while. But I can assure you that government is working round the clock to get the issues resolved.
“We have sent reports from the state to the minister, and I believe the other states have done same. And I can assure you that government is working hard to resolve the crisis; and I believe in a short while, the situation will be brought under control,” he said.
Mashat dismissed suggestions that the scarcity has to do with the Yuletide, saying “it is not aimed at making life difficult at Christmas; it’s a mere coincidence.”
He added that in spite of the scarcity, the DPR in the state had ensured that the product was not sold above the official price of N145 per litre.
“We go around every day to monitor the filling stations to ensure that the product is not sold above N145 per litre. We have also put some measures in place to ensure that trucks that leave the depot are tracked till they get to their destinations to ensure that the product is not diverted to wrong destinations,” the DPR official said.