Editorial

Long queues at filling stations show nation’s fuel malaise

We are already more than three weeks into the New Year and yet the long and winding queues are still a regular feature at virtually all filling stations across the country.

Motorists are being made to squander long productive hours at filling stations from Lagos to Abuja and from Kano to Port Harcourt all in a bid to purchase fuel at between N200 and N300 per litre which is way above the government approved price of N169. The black market operators perceived scarcity to subject the motoring public to a more hellish experience by charging even higher at between N400 and N500 per litre.

Many motorists have been forced through, through no fault of theirs, to abandon their vehicles and opt for public transportation, which is greatly undermined by the shortfall in the supply of fuel. In various cities across the country, bus stops are inundated by a mass of stranded commuters.

In Lagos for instance, a bus ride from Barracks Bus Stop to Mile Two now goes for N400 instead of between N100 and N150 while a journey from Mile Two to CMS is now N700 as against N200, consequently piling more stain on the pockets of the already improvised citizenry So far explanations given by relevant authorities have failed to explain the root cause of the latest scarcity, while their attempts at assuring the motoring and commuting public that there was no cause for alarm is of scant consolation for people going through very difficult times.

New Telegraph finds the development nauseating, untenable and indefensible. The scarcity and high cost of petrol has adversely affected the prices of other goods and services, as serviceproviders have naturally marked up their prices. The economy has been subjected to a worsening level contraction in a manner that quick recovery has become a mirage. Nigeria, Libya and Angola are Africa’s three largest oil-producing countries. We are sad to state that out of the trio that Nigeria has shamefully failed to put in place a reliable refining capacity to ensure an uninterrupted supply of fuel and other refined petroleum products.

 

This man-made abnormality has provided an avoidable basis for the continued importation of fuel and other refined petroleum products, landing costs as well as the controversial subsidy payments. Trillions of naira that ought to have been deployed  into the improved funding of the education, health and manufacturing sectors are frittered away on the payment of the obnoxious subsidy and yet the benefit of this is not being felt since the product is not being bought at the official ‘subsidised’ price.

For the seven years of the current administration, now in its twilight, there have been mountain- high alibis rationalising the continued importation of refined petroleum products. This could be likened to a farmer, who ends up without a harvest in a year due to his/ her inability to spend quality time in his/her farmland due to rains, sunshine and sand-flies. Similarly, the excuses of the Federal Government (FG) could also be likened to an individual who returns from the market empty-handed and without being committed enough to have a successful business transaction because of the noise in the place of commerce.

An administration is instituted everywhere in the world to solve problems. Finding solutions to challenges is the justification for citizens placing their faith in the government they voted into power. Once problems cease to exist, the basis for voting in an administration will be justified. It is sad that a government that was very highly critical of the administration that was in power when it was in opposition has so far failed to find answers to the recurring shortfall in the supply of petroleum products.

It is sad that this government and those before it have not been able to take a decisive position on what to do with the nation’s four morbid refineries, which have despite the billions pumped into them so far failed to come back on stream optimally, which would have gone a long way in ensuring fuel scarcity becomes a thing of the past. We therefore urge the FG to set aside her litany of excuses as such constitute a lack of appreciation of her statutory responsibilities.

All that is required of her is to follow the examples of Libya and Angola and ensure uninterrupted local refinery of crude oil into fuel and other petroleum products. A realistic but quick way of actualising this dream is to grant licences to some Nigerians with the proven scientificcum- engineering ingenuity to operate modular refineries for the local refining of crude oil into different derivatives. At the end of the day, what Nigerians want is for them to be able to drive into a filling station and buy fuel and drive out without any hassles.

 

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