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Scarcity In The Midst Of Plenty

Nigeria, the largest crude oil producer in Africa with a current average of 2million barrels per day (bpd) production, is presently almost grounded by an acute scarcity of petrol.

Business and commercial activities in the resource rich country which depends on oil proceeds for 95 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and about 80 percent of its budgetary revenue, is near crippled following the non-availability of petrol in many cities across the country.

Whereas, many non-oil producing countries have an efficient petrol supply system, scarcity of fuel has continued to make life difficult for motorists and commuters in many states of the federation including Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Holiday makers are faced with a nightmarish situation. Transport costs have almost doubled, forcing many intending travelers who cannot afford the sharp increase to give up hope of spending the holidays with their families and loved ones.

This is despite claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it has doubled the daily supply of petrol from about 30 million litres to 80 million litres per day.

The state oil firm, which is presently the sole importer of petrol in Nigeria, has attributed the situation to rumours about “purported planned increase in the price of petrol.” “But we swiftly swung into action by doubling our supply,” said the NNPC Chief, Dr. Maikanti Baru.

But a manager at a petrol station in Wuse 2, Abuja, told e360 that the product was clearly not available. “What good is it to us if our station is shut? If we have product allocation why won’t we sell? Said the manager who did not want to be named for fear of victimization.

Speaking further he said, “When we get allocation we sell and make profit, that’s how we take care of operational costs including staff salaries. Every day with no product to sell is a huge loss for us,” he stated.

He further claimed that due to the acute shortage of the product, the NNPC now prioritizes supply to the corporations owned retail stations while stations belonging to private marketers are left without allocations, or at best get less than a third of the regular allocation.

But the NNPC on its part have accused the private marketers of hoarding products allocated to them in their quest to cash in on the situation. Urging Nigerians to resist panic buying, the NNPC boss says, the corporation presently has in stock products sufficiency that will last for 30 days, adding that at least a billion litre petrol laden cargoes were heading to Nigeria shores at the end of December which would extend the product sufficiency beyond 30 days.

However, with most filling stations in Abuja and other cities across Nigeria claiming to be out of the product and their gates closed, the few which are opened for business seize the opportunity to extort motorists.

Our reporter who monitored the situation in Abuja, observed that while most of the stations opened, sell above the regulated price of N145 a litre, some of those selling at the approved pump price devise other means to extort money from desperate motorists such as payment of gate fee before gaining entrance into the station, payment of a fixed sum before having your tank filled or meters tempered with to under dispense petrol.

Without going through this process, motorists who choose to stay on the queue at the few stations where such practices don’t apply, could spend several hours to purchase the product and in some cases are unlucky and return home with their tanks still empty after the long wait.

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