From Uche Usim, Abuja
With barely 48 hours to Christmas amid horrifying fuel queues, Abuja residents have resigned to fate with the conclusion that the 2017 yuletide celebrations may likely not be marked in their homes but at filling stations where they will be languishing on queues to buy petrol for their cars and generators.
That possibility was amplified on Friday where what could be regarded as the mother of all queues was recorded in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Many stations were empty and the few ones that sold petrol were swamped with thousands of vehicles, leading to horrendous traffic snarl that engulfed the city.
Despite the worrisome development, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and its agencies continue to assure Nigerians, leaving them to conclude that the ugly turn may have overwhelmed the government.
Moses Pwajok, a businessman told Saturday Sun that he spent five hours under the scorching sun and parted with a N1,000 bribe before he was able to buy petrol at the NNPC mega station along Kubwa-Zuba road yesterday.
“I’ve never seen this sort of hell before. This is a bleak Christmas for Nigerians honestly. Even if they bring all the petrol trucks in Nigeria into Abuja, this crisis I am seeing can only ebb after Christmas. Everyday Kachikwu and Lai Mohammed will be speaking grammar on television about plans to end this mess but as you can see, whatever proposals they have in place are just not working”, he lamented.
For Dotun Tanimola who claims to have spent four hours in Lugbe but was very unlucky to get as the station abruptly shut down claiming to have run out stock. “It was like a bullet piercing my heart. I wasted the little petrol in my car and at the end, I got nothing. What could be more devastating than that. I’ll try elsewhere and if I don’t get, tomorrow, the search continues”, he stated.
Also lamenting on the development, a commuter, Mary Akachi, who works at an ICT Company in Banex, Wuse area of Abuja, said she spends hours waiting for a taxi to Lugbe from Banex since the crisis began.
“Before the scarcity, it is so easy getting a taxi to Lugbe from Banex. But on Friday, it was something else. No taxis. Those willing to go hiked the fare but the crowd was much. You needed to struggle. We were told many taxi operators were languishing on queues in various filling as they struggle to buy petrol. The Minister said it will get better by weekend but it is actually worse.
“Let the government do something urgently. This is like adding salt to injury. We are already scalded by poor electricity supply, no salaries, harsh economy and now petrol scarcity? This is just too much”, she groaned.
The NNPC insists it has sufficient stock of petrol to supply Nigerians for the yuletide and beyond but the dry depots and empty retail outlets point to the contrary.
Again, the NNPC has a huge distribution challenge as it is currently the major importer of petrol since oil marketers say they could not guarantee fresh imports if they cannot sell at N185/litre, as the current N145/litre threshold had become a business suicide following the increase in the price of petrol in the international market.
The entire quagmire has left consumers with no option than to engage in panic buying because the calculation is that a totally unprepared NNPC becoming the sole importer and distributor of petrol cannot guarantee sufficient supplies always. Till date, demand has continually outweighed supplies and the queues have continued to grow. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, December 6, gave Dr Ibe Kachikwu a marching order to end the scarcity nightmare within few days. But the days have stretched to weeks with no end in sight.
…Fix it now, or resign, PDP tells Buhari
From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to find a quick solution to the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.
The PDP said it is not enough for Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources, to sit in his comfort zone and heap all the blames of the fuel scarcity on petroleum marketers, while Nigerians continue to suffer untold hardship.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party said President Buhari should either rise up to his responsibility as Petroleum Minister or relinquish the position, so that a competent person will take over the portfolio.
Said the party: “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 N86.50k per liter to as high as N300 per liter 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’s 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?”