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Fuel scarcity worsens state of economy

By Sulaimon Salau
26 May 2015   |   2:30 am
It is definitely not the best of time for Nigerians, particularly the entrepreneurs, as the lingering fuel scarcity hits hard on the national economy, posing threats to survival of businesses.

fuel scarcity

…Threatens businesses, black market booms 
It is definitely not the best of time for Nigerians, particularly the entrepreneurs, as the lingering fuel scarcity hits hard on the national economy, posing threats to survival of businesses.

The scarcity of Premuim Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol has lasted for about 29 days due to an unprecedented deadlock between the Federal Government and the petroleum marketers over the alleged N200 billion unpaid subsidy claims.

This situation has however posed untold hardship on Nigerians who are compelled to sleep at filling stations amid long queues.

Indeed, The Guardian investigations revealed that the situation has almost crippled the small and medium business in the economy. Besides, the multinationals from all facet of business including the telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, among others.

Both businesses and households have relied largely on petrol and diesel to energise their personal generators due to the epileptic electricity supply from the utility companies.   Besides, the effect has been felt more on transportation, as the prices skyrocketed by about 200 per cent depending on the location and means of transportation.

The latest and trending issue was the closure of some radio stations due to lack of fuel to energise their power sources.  This includes Beat FM, 99.9 FM, Classic FM, and Naija FM, which temporarily shut down due to lack of power.

Some television stations could not also drive their official vehicles to cover events while the cost of transporting newspapers to various parts of the country has shot up astronomically.    Other businesses are also groaning under intense pressure to survive and operate a successful business.

The cost of production has shot up, while distribution of products has become more worrisome. The Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), in a ‘notice of early closure’ to customers yesterday said: “The current shortage of petroleum products in the country has limited our ability to supply diesel to all our branches, in order to continue normal branch operations.

Due to this, we unavoidably have to close our branches nationwide at from tomorrow (Monday, 25th, May 2015.

“Whilst we have had to take this step to close branch operations early, we would like to seek your understanding at this time, and assure you that we will continue to work hard at finding alternative solutions to this situation and will advise you once the situation abated,” it stated. The telecommunication firms, such as MTN, Etisalat, and Airtel have also raised alarm over the fuel situation.

Also affected are airline operators that have temporarily put their operations on hold due to unavailability of aviation fuel, as passengers stranded at the airports. However, the menace of black marketing seems to have eaten deep into the system as consumers now rely on products, which are popularly sold by hoodlums in jerry can at exorbitant rates.

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are also lamenting the huge loss to the fuel crises, urging the Federal Government to wade in and bring relief to Nigerians.

The Manager of a printing and publicity firm, Hakeem Adejare told The Guardian that he has not worked for the past one week because the cost of production is higher than what customers can afford.   “I only work on special orders after i have reached an agreement with the owner whom perhaps needed the job due to “some exigencies.

We have abandoned our generator and public power is almost paralysed in this area, so we find it very difficult to make ends meet,”   An electrical engineer, Azeez Akiyemi, also lameted the prevailing situation blaming it on poor policy implementation by the Federal Government. Akinyemi said it was unfortunte that the Federal.

Goverment after making privisions for subsidy in the national budget could not pay the marketers. “We are realy suffering amidst plenty. It is unfortunate that this Jonathan’s parting gift to Nigerians.

We realy need to chage the way we do things in this country, I have closed my shop for somedays now because there is no light, no fuel, nothing seems to be working,” he said.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by NOIPolls in January 2015 revealed that slightly more than half (52 per cent) of the respondents surveyed believe that Nigerians have not enjoyed the full benefit of petrol subsidy.

This perception may be guided by the fact that a larger proportion of Nigerians purchase petrol at a price above the subsidized rate of 97.

The report reads in part: “Given this set back, a significant proportion (42 per cent) of Nigerians (especially from the South-East zone) would support the full removal of the fuel subsidy to a great extent.

“On the other hand, a slightly larger proportion (44 percent) would not support the full removal of petrol subsidy by the government; this stance was mainly maintained by residents from the North-East and North-West regions,” The findings also revealed that corruption is the key factor hindering Nigerians from enjoying the full benefits of petrol subsidy as reported by the majority of respondents and this cuts across gender and geo-political zone.

However, the report identified; poor management of fuel subsidy, inefficient regulatory authorities, differences in cost of fuel importation and inefficiencies of petrol price control mechanism, amongst others as factors Nigerians think have hindered the enjoyment of the full benefits of petrol subsidy.