The past few months have been hell on earth for the immense majority of Nigerians as petrol scarcity and sustained power outage have made lives unbearable, in so many ways. The situation is not only frustrating; it has significantly contributed to the skyrocketing of prices of commodities.
Without electricity, most retail informal businesses have to use petrol to power their generators. But now, to see petrol in the first place is like war. And then most people are forced to buy a litre at between N200-N300 as against the official price of N86.
But, in the first instance, Nigerians should have no business with poverty let alone fuel scarcity that has now become a regular phenomenon with added venom. This is the worst fuel scarcity this century, in the country. And it shows the lack of capacity of APC to bring about its much touted “change”.
The government scrapped the fuel subsidy. The believe being that it could handle the situation now since the price of crude oil is now very low. Once the prices rise, Nigerians would be expected to bear the sharp increase in fuel pump price as well, without resisting.
But the bosses are likely to have a rude awakening. Removing fuel subsidy as a line of least resistance did not solve any problem for the government, but has rather thrown up more. Oil marketers went on strike, effectively speaking. And also refused to allow the NNPC to use their fuel farms for storage, leaving it unable to have enough in reserve, especially as it has not been able to get the local refineries running at optimal capacities.
Repeatedly we have been promised that the fuel queues will come to an end. Nigerians are getting feed up and organised labour has spoken out against this objectionable situation. We now have to mobilise and fight for real change that can bring “no light”, “no petrol” reality to a final full stop.
This requires sustained campaigns. Despite the February 8 rallies against electricity tariff hike, the DISCOs have been charging the new rates and nothing is happening. Despite the trade unions’ stance against the fuel subsidy removal, it has been removed and we are now witnessing this awesome petrol scarcity despite this.
We must fight until victory. Victory comes only through struggle. We can win only partial victories in the energy sector if we do not win the power of democratic management and control of the sector. The challenge of this battle is one that we must all rise up to meet.
by Ogbu A. Ameh & E. ‘Todun Jagun