Nigerians return to firewood as prices of Kerosene, cooking gas hit roof top
By VINCENT KALU AND VERA-WISDOM-BASSEY
A housewife at Jakande area of Ojo, Lagos, was embarrassed penultimate Saturday.
She, with her family, occupies the second floor of a three-storey building. While cooking with firewood, thick smoke was belching out through the window of the kitchen.
Her neigbhours in the next compound and passersby,who thought it was a fire outbreak in the building raised the alarm.
This attracted people who rushed in to put off the fire and rescue the building and other property.
Somebody had also called the Lagos State fire Service at Ojo Council headquarters.
However, when these good Nigerians got to the apartment, the woman was surprised and asked what the problem was.
When they explained their fear, she told them not to worry and that the smoke was from the firewood she bought for cooking, as she couldn’t afford cooking gas, which cost has spiraled, especially in January.
She explained that the firewood was yet to dry, and in order to ignite it, she dropped a little quantity of kerosene on it, causing the alarming thick smoke.
She is not the only one, who had been forced to go back to use firewood for cooking, due to the prohibitive price of cooking gas and kerosene.
In Makurdi, some residents have opted for firewood, while decrying the high cost of cooking gas and kerosene, which they said, had inflicted much hardship on low income earners.
According to News Agency of Nigeria, the cost of obtaining the two sources of domestic energy for cooking had doubled in recent times.
Nigerian women have consequently embraced firewood for being cheaper, cost effective, and readily available.
Retailers of gas now refill the 12.5kg at N5, 500, as against the old price of N4, 000, while the 5kg cylinder now attracts N3, 500, as against N1, 400.
Mrs. Msughshima Wever, a gas retailer at Wadata, told NAN blamed the increase on the falling value of the naira to the dollar.
She called for the intervention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Federal Government and expressed the fear that the price could go even higher if nothing was urgently done.
Sewuese Azer, a businesswoman said the product was scarce in Makurdi and that she could not afford it at such high rate. “I opted for firewood long ago, I am a farmer too, I don’t even buy firewood, I pick them in the farm, no cost implication,” she said.
Matina Ashever, a gas user, said that she refilled her 2kg cylinder at the rate of N1,600 in December, but met it for N2,500 in January. “I have resorted to firewood, as my next option. I wash my pots with potash and sand; they clean, it is also cost effective, ” she said.
Mr. Terver Akisa, a firewood merchant, told NAN that his business has been booming with high patronage since the beginning of the New Year.
“Most customers murmur and complain about the prices of gas and kerosene whenever they come to buy firewood,” Akisa said.
NAN reports that mega gas distributors, the NNPC mega station, AUSTOMA Gas and NEXIM gas plants had various signposts indicating there was no gas.
Saturday Sun accosted a group of girls returning from fetching firewood on 6th Avenue in Festac town last Sunday. They lamented the energy crisis and pleaded with the Federal Government to reduce the pump price of the products.
One of them, who spoke, said: “It started last year with a sudden increase to N120, since then the increase has remained constant up to the current price of N370 or more in some places. We have to look for alternatives to be able to put food on the table for our family.”
The price of charcoal has similarly gone up, as people turn to it for cooking. To many Lagosians who have been hit with the reality that gas and kerosene are now out of reach, the alternative is to use charcoal.
A resident of Agboju, Lagos, Mr. Hope Idowu told his wife to be using charcoal to cook until the price of kerosene dropped. According to him, ‘’Yes, I told my wife that we simply cannot afford this for now, especially against the backdrop of bills, including the children’s school fees that needed to be paid this month of January.”
Investigations also revealed that the price of 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas has increased from N3, 200 to N6,000 in Lagos area.
Residents expressed helplessness at the sudden jump in the prices of the petroleum products.
A resident of Festac, Mrs. Helen Nwakanna, said she bought the 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas for N6,000 as against N3,000 she bought the same size last.
Many Nigerians who spoke to Saturday Sun, however, accused the dealers of profiteering at the expense of the consumers. “These Nigerians cheat others by also increasing the price or even selling with small measures.”