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A nation’s embarrassment 

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Fuel Crisis

Fuel Crisis

YESTERDAY’S announcement of an agreement between the government and other stakeholders to end the fuel crisis that has bedevilled the nation for weeks, it must be said, came too late and with too much agony.

With persistent scarcity of petroleum products now a measure of shortage of good governance in Nigeria, neither the government nor other stakeholders, especially petroleum  products’ marketers, should under-estimate the embarrassment and pains to the nation.

Yesterday’s announcement is a relief but all should seek to put an end to the recurrent suffering of the citizens.

Although there have been several fuel shortage crises in the country despite its being a major producer of crude, the current crisis has turned out to be one of the severest the citizens have had to contend with as diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene and liquefied natural gas have become scarce too.

The situation has undermined socio-economic activities, disrupted both small and big businesses and made life unlivable for Nigerians.

Generally, the cost of living has increased significantly, big corporations like banks now close their offices to customers as early as 1:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. in a bid to conserve the little petroleum products they can afford to power their generators.

Telecommunications companies have threatened to shut down their services as they can no longer afford adequate petroleum products. Life in Nigeria is now a Darwinian struggle where only the fittest are able to procure petroleum products.

The average citizen who gets fuel after waiting in the queue for hours pays as much as N600, contrary to the official price of N87 per litre.

In the woes, since electricity supply has dropped to near zero, with diesel, kerosene, petrol and gas off the market, life has become brutish for Nigerians, as those with generators and the means to fuel them cannot even get the products.

This crisis was compounded by the strike by tanker drivers who stopped fuel lifting from all tank farms. Nigerians are suffering from the deleterious impact of a byzantine subsidy scheme that has been nurtured over the years by the government and petroleum marketers to enrich a few.

Yet, discerning citizens have  warned that the subsidy scheme has become a bastion of corruption; a means of unconscionable theft of taxpayers’ funds.

Now, the claims and counter-claims over how much subsidy money is being owed marketers by the government resulted in the scarcity of petroleum products  nationwide and have once again thrown into focus the need to review the scheme. Admittedly, the nation is in a big dilemma as regards the subsidy.

This is because before the government can discontinue the policy, it has to pay all the claims by the marketers, some of which may be dubious.

The marketers are made up of Major Oil Marketers Association (MOMAN)  and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA).

MOMAN  consists of the six major oil marketing firms, Oando, Conoil, Forte Oil, MRS, Total and Mobil while DAPPMA consists of independent products marketers who own fuel depots, storage and marketing facilities. MOMAN and DAPPMA say that after the N154 billion payment by the government, there is an outstanding subsidy claim of N200 billion.

But the government says the outstanding payment due to the marketers based on weekly data by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) template cannot be more than N131 billion. To be sure, petroleum marketers who are being owed by the government deserve to be paid their claims.

But must they blackmail the nation and create artificial scarcity to punish the citizens because they are being owed by the government? The marketers had threatened that they would withdraw their services if they were not paid.

So, it is indeed curious  that DAPPMA could now come out to say that its members are not on strike but that they only lack funds to import petroleum products.

The marketers must be told in unequivocal terms that Nigerians would not forget how they have subjected them to hardship and history will judge them harshly for this continuous exercise in blackmail. Indeed, their action at this time is tantamount to a threat to national security.

The government must investigate all those involved in this blackmail with a view to bringing them to justice. Nigerians are impatient for a solution to constant fuel scarcity. The marketers have asked for a post-dated Sovereign Debt Note (SDN) to be issued to them.

They also claim to have written to the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to end the crisis. But, according to them, Buhari has not responded to their letter. If the crisis is to end permanently, the in-coming government needs to play a major part.

Yet, the marketers must know that government is a continuum and that genuine transactions are not repudiated simply because there is a change of government. Were this to happen, there are legitimate ways of seeking redress in a business deal.

A permanent solution is to make Nigeria’s refineries work, something Buhari has, happily, promised.

The government must face up to the reality that it cannot continue to use the citizens’ taxes to maintain refineries which are not functioning optimally.

It must accept the challenge of conceding the refineries to private investors and create an enabling environment for those private investors to bloom in the downstream sector of the nation’s petroleum industry.

It is sad that official connivance has not only made the government-owned refineries dysfunctional, it has equally frustrated the take-off of private refineries in the country. This is why the private refineries that have been licensed have not been able to start operations.

Nigerians have suffered untold agony in the last few weeks and are still suffering from the scarcity-induced hardship. Yet, they must not be wearied with the sophistry of subsidy claims’ calculations.

All they are interested in is for the government and the marketers to permanently end fuel scarcity crisis by running an open, transparent and efficient fuel supply system that begins and ends with functional refineries in Nigeria.

That is the only way to stop the subsidy scheme and its attendant corruption. And it is the only way to save Nigeria the kind of agony and embarrassment it has lived with since.


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4 Comments
  • Oye Oyesanya

    The title of this editorial is embarrassing to Nigerian people and to us readers; ‘A nations Embarrassment’ should have been ‘A great crime against Nigerian People’. Let the Guardian (Conscience; Nurtured by Truth) newspapers go back to its loftier days of the past and be a fighter on behalf of the people. A great crime is committed that needs a great punishment; that is what this newspapers should be championing.

  • Adefila Johnson Gbenga

    AVIATION EXPERT CAPTAIN FOLA AKINKUOTU SUGGESTED AS MINISTER

    TO GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI (Rtd) PRESIDENT ELECT

    Dear Editor,

    I write to suggest the above man as a minister. He is intelligent

    humble and incorruptible. He has worked in the aviation Industry for 42

    years. A technocrat per excellence. He was unjustly fired by outgoing president
    Goodluck Jonathan

    after the bullet proof car scam of Mrs. Stella Oduah broke out. He

    barely spent 5months out of his 5 year term confirmed by the senate.

    He has faced senate and house of Reps and was cleared because he

    hasn’t assumed office when the saga/contract was carried out. He will

    handle the aviation Industry professionally

    PROFILE OF CAPTAIN FOLA AKINKUOTU

    Director General

    Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority

    August 2013 – March 2014 (8 months)Lagos, Nigeria

    RECTOR

    International Aviation College Ilorin Nigeria

    January 2012 – June 2013 (1 year 6 months)Lagos Road, besides Ilorin

    International Airport

    Accountable Manager

    Director International Operations

    Air Nigeria

    2010 – October 2011 (1 year)

    Director of Flight Operations

    Virgin Nigeria Airways

    February 2010 – January 2011 (1 year)Murtala International Airport, Lagos

    Line Captain; Technical Pilot; Training Captain; Training Manager;

    Type Training Examiner B737-300/

    Virgin Nigeria Airlines

    June 2006 – January 2010 (3 years 8 months)Lagos, Nigeria

    Contract Pilot; Training Captain

    ADC Airlines

    April 2004 – April 2006 (2 years 1 month)Lagos, Nigeria

    Managing Director/Chief Operation Officer

    IRS Airlines

    2001 – 2002 (1 year)

    Chief Pilot ; Director Technical Operations

    ADC Airlines

    February 1991 – 2001 (10 years)Lagos, Nigeria

    Pilot

    Kabo Air

    1986 – 1991 (5 years)

    • +Flights

    • +Aviation

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    Captain Fola also knows about…

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    • A320

    Education: He attended NCAT Zaria and Masters at the United States

    He is capable of handling the Nigerian Aviation Industry.Written by

    Adefila Gbenga 08062093269

  • emmanuel kalu

    to solve this problem is easy, however we lack the leaders to do it. we also lack the leadership desire to end this. so the outcome must be, the leaders are part of this fraud, or they clearly have no clue. this was a national crime committed on a country, and it required a bold leaders to end this crime. like i said, the short term solution, completely bypass the marketers and flood the market with fuel. this can be done by the army and their fuel tankers to trasnport the fuel to NNPC retail stations. medium term solution, allow the building of modular refineries across the nation to reduce the importation of fuel. long term solution. deregulate the markets, encourage more refineries to be build, update and repair the 4 refineries owned by the govt and should be still owned the govt, so that no private business can take the country hostage again.

  • Ify Onabu

    When Jonathan took a bold step to remove the subsidy four years ago, did Tinubu and his gang not oppose him? We shall see how Buhari will preside over Nigeria with the scam called ‘fuel subsidy’ in place? When will the oil marketers stop stealing funds from the tax payer?