Why Nigeria Will Continue to Suffer Fuel Scarcities

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Fuel Scarcities in Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria is suffering from the third fuel scarcities in ten months. All across the country, people are queuing for hours trying to purchase petrol. After all, petrol runs Nigeria. We need petrol in our cars to drive us to our petrol-consuming, generator-run workplaces so that we can make money to buy petrol for our ever hungry generators at home. The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, reportedly said that fuel scarcity will be a thing of the past by April 7, this was after joking that he was not trained as a magician when asked why the crisis had stretched across weeks. Although he apologized, Nigerians who had spent many many hours in the fuel queues did not see the funny side. Many have blamed President Buhari and his administration and who can blame them? His administration promised change but Nigerians do not like the change they’ve seen so far. There are many issues that Nigerians are suffering from, but anytime it is a fuel problem, the situation stinks of sad irony. Nigeria shouldn’t be suffering from fuel problems because our biggest export is oil!

These fuel scarcities have severe consequences for all Nigerians. The people queuing up to buy fuel are spending man hours at these stations and not at work. That means businesses aren’t operating at their usual efficiency and the economy is suffering. Take note this has happened three times in ten months. Our economy has taken enough hits as it is. Also, whenever there is a fuel scarcity, the price of fuel has gone up greatly. Apparently, in Lagos, a litre of the product sold for between N120 and N250 at some filling stations, instead of the N86 and N86.50 official pump prices, while black market hawkers sold it for as high as N400 per litre. This makes life difficult for Nigerians as we rely on petrol so much. It’s very worse when you realise that transportation is part of all production costs and so the increase in the price of fuel has increased the price of… everything else!

Unfortunately, no matter how many promises Ibe Kachikwu makes or even President Buhari himself, this is not the end of Nigeria’s fuel scarcities. This is because the root cause of it all has not been addressed and what Nigerian governments have done for years (after all, fuel scarcities did not just magically start ten months ago) is the equivalent of applying aboniki or deep heat on a broken leg. Although Nigeria exports crude oil, we do not refine a lot of it and this means we are not in control of the supply of petrol in our own country. The payment (or lack of) of the subsidy has also left us at the hands of our frequently incompetent government. There’s a possible solution in the distance however. Dangote (who we might as well call Nigeria’s lord and savior) has started work on a refinery in Nigeria that has a reported capacity of 650,000 barrels per day. Things like that is what will help solve our fuel issues. The oil refinery will also give jobs to the country and help our economy. After the project is completed, Nigeria is supposed to be self sufficient in refining crude oil. At that stage, we can control our fate some more. Nigeria needs more of this. Solving our fuel and electricity problems will boost our economy greatly and our general standard of living will increase. Hopefully, the loan deal the government wants to sign with China will go towards solving our infrastructure problems like electricity. Or maybe, Dangote should think of getting into the power generation industry…

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