When the just concluded general election was approaching, the out-going Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had reduced the pump price of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol, from ninety-seven to eighty-seven Naira per litre. That was in anticipation of massive support from the electorate, but the gesture was counterproductive and failed to shore up the dejected government already in the bad books of the masses. What that measure really produced is the current unjustifiable fuel scarcity now causing untold hardship to the general populace. Unfortunately the unfortunate development continued unabated throughout the election period and has persisted till today.
It started like a minor development that everybody had wished away. The government which was obviously embarrassed by that situation could not offer any satisfactory explanation about why it was happening at a time when it was trying to lessen the difficulties associated with the exorbitant cost of fuelling vehicles. It kept on explaining that very soon the situation would be under control with the arrival at the nation’s shores of large consignment of the commodity which it had ordered from abroad.
However, after waiting for weeks on end for the delivery of the petrol, Nigerians were severely agitated due to the ensuing agonies and frustrations associated with the scarcity of petroleum products.
As a result, most filling stations across the country have suddenly become centres of illegal activities with unscrupulous middlemen having field days and making bona fide buyers feel that the just struggle to obtain the fuel was not worth the hassle. In the few places where the commodity is available, it sells at inflated and unaffordable cost and only well-heeled customers could pay for it, and even at that, through their noses.
As it is now, nobody can for sure predict how long that ugly situation would last, and from all indications it will outlive the Jonathan’s administration and linger on into the General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration could interfere with its proper and smooth take off.
Because of the seemingly unsure position of the marketers with regards to the prospective cost of petroleum commodities, they are currently pessimistic about what the future holds for them. That is why they are being cautious, taking reasonable care to avoid risks or possibility of profit loss while importing fuel. It is sad and ironic that Nigerians have been suffering rather than benefitting from a product they have been generously endowed with by God.
The nation’s marginalized citizens do not enjoy the benefits associated with oil wealth because they have been allowed by those at the helm of affair to wallow in abject poverty, eking out an austere existence bereft of luxury and decent living. It is only few politicians and the elite that are actually enjoying the oil wealth of the country as they engage in many dubious oil deals to the detriment of the citizenry.
Nigerian masses have always been at the receiving end of the senseless and gratuitous fuel price hike of successive administrations. Incidentally, every government has partaken actively in that superfluous venture by increasing the pump price of petrol at different occasions. The only time the proceeds from such exercise were utilized for the good of the common man was during the regime of General Muhammadu Sani Abacha of blessed memory; who found practical and effective use of the five-Naira price increase differential in the execution of important development projects by a special agency, the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF.
Subsequent fuel price hikes did not provide any opportunity to the Nigerian masses to benefit; instead they were used in financing frivolous projects that have no relevance to their welfare or aspirations.
Interestingly, Nigerians are now heaving a sigh of relief because they will no longer continue to bear the burden of the incompetence of their rulers. It was bad enough that the lives of ordinary Nigerians had been terribly bastardized
and endangered as a result of security challenges brought about by the inequities of incompetent rulers. A typical example of that sorry state of affairs is the epileptic nature of our electricity supply which has defied numerous reforms, despite billions of dollars sunk into them. It is indeed sad that Nigerians must suffer before they could get fuel or steady supply of electricity.
It is hoped that the change yearned for by Nigerians will actually manifest with drastic reforms in the power and petroleum sectors when the incoming government take office. No doubt, it would look into the various allegations of incompetence and the rot that has rendered most Nigerian institutions ineffective and totally incapable of ending our various predicaments.
The time to sanitize these two sectors is NOW, by ensuring that probity and transparency become the order of the day. Fuel scarcity and its attendant problems ought to be a thing of the past, and Nigerians should not continue to suffer silently in the midst of plenty. By and large, the unending fuel scarcity is seemingly a conspiracy by the out-going Jonathan administration to punish Nigerians for overwhelmingly voting out the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).