Nigerians have continued to lament the hardship caused by the scarcity of petroleum products across the country as businesses and households that depend on generators for power supply groan in darkness.
In recent weeks, motorists across Nigeria have had a hard time getting petroleum products just as commuters continue to lament the ripple effects of the scarcity as a result of skyrocketed transport fares in major cities.
Despite the government’s repeated claims it had enough petroleum products in stock, the scarcity has persisted amid poor supply of electricity across the country.
The recent development is coming amid reports of a pump price increase by the federal government.
Last Thursday, reports claimed that the government quietly approved N185 as the new petrol pump price per litre. But the government, however, denied the claim.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari did not approve any increase in the price of PMS or any other petroleum product.
“There is no reason for President Muhammadu Buhari to renege on his earlier promise not to approve any increase in the price of petroleum motor spirit (PMS) at this time,” Mr Sylva said.
But despite the government’s position, PREMIUM TIMES’ found that Nigerians have continued to suffer scarcity of petroleum products across the country.
A survey of petrol stations in many parts of the country showed that the fuel prices ranged between N240 and N400 across Nigerian states, far higher than the erstwhile pump price.
A PREMIUM TIMES correspondent who visited petrol stations in Abuja Monday afternoon found that many filling stations were shut, while others were besieged by motorcyclists, tricycle owners, as well as private and commercial vehicle owners.
While many filling stations sold the product at prices ranging from N200 to N250, NNPC retail stations sold the product for N194.
The black market prices of fuel have equally gone through the roof with 10 litres of petrol selling for between N4000 and N6000 in Lugbe, Jabi, Kubwa and Gwagwalada, according to PREMIUM TIMES’ findings on Monday.
Traffic gridlocks appeared across some major parts of the capital city as many service lanes were closed due to the long queues sprawling from petrol stations.
Also, the crisis has led to increase in cost of transportation and commuters were left stranded at various bus stops on Monday as workers and students returned from work and school, respectively.
“To be frank with you, this fuel issue is so pathetic, I have been in this queue since 3 p.m. to get fuel. This is 4:30 p.m. and still, it has not been my turn to get the product. As you can see there are a lot of queues here because they are selling for N194,” Kevin Enoch, a taxi driver at the NNPC retail outlet CBD along Wuse Road, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Another taxi driver, Kayode Ademilekan, said “This fuel issue has become a habit in the country, I have observed this and I’m not sure our government is doing anything to address it. We are suffering in this country.”
A Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development staffer, Bukumi Akanbi, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday evening that she had to opt for a ride to get home.
“Could you believe that I stood at the bus stop for almost two hours and still no car came along. I must say that public buses are scarce.
“I ordered a ride to come take me home because I was so stressed. Where I’m supposed to go with just N300, a ride will take me there for N2500. It doesn’t matter anymore,” she said.
An Abuja-based civil servant, who identified himself simply as Peter, said: “At the beginning of each year, the government punishes us with fuel scarcity, that’s what happened last year and it has continued again this year. I bought fuel at the rate of N5,000 to fuel my generator on Sunday. If I continue to buy N5,000 just for the generator, how much is my salary? I just hope we vote wisely this time around.”
Another civil servant, George Abah, said: “At this time, this is too unbearable. People are suffering and the election is next month. Recently, I was at one of the fuel stations in Wuse to get fuel but I couldn’t get fuel, all I can tell you now is that the government is making life very unbearable for people.”
A motorist, Ojo Adekunle, said he increased his fare for transportation because he had to resort to the “black market” to get petrol.
“If you want to enter my car and I tell you how much I collect, if you don’t like it, go down. It’s black market I buy now,” he said.
In Anambra, this newspaper found that some filling stations were dispensing petrol at between N350 and N400 per litre.
A car owner, Okoye Chinedu, told PREMIUM TIMES that the unending fuel scarcity in the country was not good for the economy.
“For our country’s economy, this is not good at all and I must tell you that all the relevant authorities concerned have failed to come up with a lasting solution. I now have to pay through my nose to fuel my car buying one litre from N350 at the filling station.
“I was in Nnewi early in January and I had to pay as high as N350 (per litre) to get fuel. This epileptic state of fuel availability in the country needs to be rectified,” he said.
A businesswoman based in Nnewi, Ogechukwu Udeh, said she bought fuel for N500 per litre during the last Christmas festival but the product is now available for N300 or N350 per litre, depending on the location.
In Enugu, there were long queues at some of the major fuel stations visited across the city.
ChrisTee filling station, Deppo bus Stop by Police College, sold petrol to motorists at N320, while Eterna filling station, Ologo bus Stop by Coal Camp and Jedik filling station by Mayor market bus stop were also open to customers when visited. They both sold the product at between N310 and N320 per litre.
A Port Harcourt resident, Ebuka Ikeru, told PREMIUM TIMES that fuel prices have skyrocketed in the city in recent time.
“Fuel was sold for N400 per litre at the end of December 2022. But now, it is sold for as high as N500 per litre with black market rates at N700 per litre. These things have been going like this and there are no signs that the price will reduce soon,” he said.
Similar ordeals were experienced by residents of Ekiti, Cross River, Imo, Delta and numerous other cities across the country.
In Lagos, motorists continue to lament the scarcity of fuel as the few filling stations dispensing petrol are besieged by impatient and frustrated cab drivers, okada riders and young business owners desperate to get petrol for their daily operations.
“The situation is even worst because there is no electricity and the heat has been very crazy,” a resident of Ojodu, Tayo Ademola, told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon.
In Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, residents lamented the poor supply of the products even as they were desperate to buy at high prices.
A civil servant who declined to have her name in print told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone chat Tuesday afternoon that the “hardship has never been this severe.” According to her, Nigerians face multiple challenges and “it’s beyond shocking that this is happening in an election season.”
At Oju-Ore, Ogun State, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that there is commotion in most filling station as motorists and small business owners scramble for fuel.
On Friday, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, (MOMAN), attributed the crisis to the high costs of vessels and inadequate trucks to deliver petroleum products from depots to filling stations across the country.
The marketers explained that these high logistics and exchange rate costs continue to put pressure on their operations with ripple effects on the pump price.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN) also noted that the volume of products supplied to marketers at the loading points has dropped by about 50 per cent.
Speaking with PREMIUM on Monday, the group corporate communications officer of the NNPCL, GarbaDeen Muhammad, said that the company is doing everything possible to see that the queues subside.
“We are doing everything that we can to see that this queue subsides (sic). We supply as much as we can, we recently visited the scene of an accident that derailed two or three trailers which are part of the problem that caused this shortage,” he said.
He noted that several trucks are waiting to pass the Agaie-Bida road because of the accident.
“We are pushing everything we can to get these trailers out of the way. Though we have been able to remove them when there is a fuel shortage, it takes time to bridge the gap.
“And don’t forget that NNPC now is a commercial company and we are struggling to make profits. One of our fundamental responsibilities is to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of fuel in the country and we will make sure there is. So distribution is another thing altogether,” Mr Muhammad told PREMIUM TIMES.
Meanwhile, the president of IPMAN, Chinedu Chinedu Okoronkwo, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said the situation is still unclear at the moment.
“For us in IPMAN, we have not been communicated on what is going on. There is confusion, the situation is still unclear to us at the moment. As for the depot price, some people are talking about N172 in Lagos,” he said.
Moving forward, he explained that the responsibility to ensure adequate fuel supply lies with the government and the NNPCL.
He said: “Whatever the government has decided, we are ready to go with it. The fact is that they are the ones sitting on this because our profit margin has remained the same despite all the price increases.
“We’ve not been given any margin to correspond but what can we do? We are just believing that things will change one day.”