On the 4th of February, 2022, queues for the purchase of Premium Motor Spirit began in major cities in the country. Since then, Nigerians have continued to wait in vain despite repeated promises by authorities at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the fuel crisis would be resolved.
Earlier reports attributed the scarcity to discovery of high methanol levels, which were said to be higher than the national specifications of 2-3 per cent in imported gasoline. It was alleged that about 100 million litres of the contaminated fuel were imported and distributed in the last week of January 2022, with Olumide Adeosun, chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), confirming to journalists that about 136 vehicles were affected by the contaminated oil.
While the government took every turn to assure Nigerians that the fuel crisis would soon be over, the queues have continued to linger for weeks nationwide, as millions of Nigerians spend hours, day and night on queues jostling for insufficient fuel in circulation.
Consequently, socio-economic activities have largely been crippled, as the PMS situation is exacerbated by the unbearable skyrocketing price of diesel, which many businesses can no longer afford, with the price currently between 700-800 per litre.
Last week, the nation’s aviation industry threatened to ground flight operations due to soaring prices of aviation fuel (Jet-A1), with airlines buying the fuel at N670, a swift departure from the regular price of 190 recently.
These situations have been compounded by the reported collapse of the national grid, with the Federal Government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) trading blames with GenCos for low power generation, while Nigerians continue to suffer economic losses of alarming magnitude.
With an economy already battling to recover from the COVID-19 induced economic hardship and the outbreak of war in Ukraine which signalled a volatile global economy, the current energy crisis, if not urgently mitigated, would further cripple the nation’s post-COVID 19 economy recovery efforts.
We are, therefore, calling on the government and relevant stakeholders to expedite interventions towards addressing the lingering fuel crisis, which has had a multiplier effect on every aspect of our national lives.
President Mohammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, must prove to Nigerians why he should continue as the sector’s minister if the current crises cannot be abated immediately.
To forestall a repeat of these crises, we demand a thorough overhaul of the entire structure around fuel consumption in Nigeria. Industry regulators must up their antes by improving their oversight functions to stabilise prices and discourage fuel hoarding as currently witnessed in the country.
As national economies bounce back from the profound adverse effects of Covid-19, Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind. We reiterate our call for urgent and sustainable actions to arrest the nationwide energy crises and other pertinent economic crises wearing an ugly face on Nigerian citizens.