• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Abuja residents groan as fuel queues return following subsidy removal announcement

Nigeria’s scarcity’ saga: A grim tale of resilience and government failure

Citizens across the country are lamenting as queue for fuel has returned in full force following president Bola Tinubu’s announcement on scrapping subsidy as it is no longer sustainable.

BusinessDay observed that the queues which started forming around 7:00 pm on Monday grew longer on Tuesday morning.

Although still selling at N195, BusinessDay observed queues at Total Kuje, Mobil and Shafa on Airport road, also AA Rano and Shafa at city gate was jam packed with the queue spilling over into the road with black Market operators selling at N350/ N400 along this axis.

However two Conoil filing stations on Airport road was not dispensing while Saddi Kemil close to ShopRite lugbe was open but had no queue.

BusinessDay spoke with Abuja residents along Lugbe road with many of them joining the queue while a good number of them waited for vehicles to convey them to their destinations.

“This new president do not mean well for Nigerians. He just got to office and he is already making life difficult; Because of this fuel subsidy removal, some filling stations are refusing to sell petrol, they are waiting for the new price to be announced,” Olu Makinde, an Abuja resident said.

He said poor Nigerians will be affected more because if the price of petrol is increased, the price of every other thing will increase and it will affect poverty levels.

A taxi driver who identified himself as Ibrahim said automatically fares will increase because the stress to buy fuel and the possible increase in price will have an effect.

He said that the new policy caught them unaware and has made it difficult for them to get petrol especially as most filling stations have stopped the sales of fuel, leading to long queues and difficulty in getting fuel.

Read also: Fuel queues appear in Osun after President Tinubu’s inaugural speech

“I was able to get fuel at same N195, after spending a long time on the queue and I expect this queues to remain for a long time however we know this will end in price increase,” he said.

Anya Linda, another resident and an entrepreneur was angry after she waited for over 30 minutes at the Bus stop with no taxi available and the one she eventually saw called double the usual amount.

“As an hairdresser, I need light to work and I have to rely on generator but with this scarcity again and possible increase in price, I may not work at full capacity and I will definitely increase my charges,” she said.

The issue of subsidy payments and removal has been lingering for many years as previous presidents unsuccessfully tried to remove subsidy despite the financial chokehold it held the government’s pockets

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, revealed in February that Nigeria spends N400 billion on subsidy payments which was not sustainable.

Few minutes after his swearing-in ceremony, president Tinubu said the there was no provision for fuel subsidy on the budget left before he assumed office hence it is gone.

“We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions,” he said.

Mike Osatuyi, national operations controller The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria IPMAN, subsidy has been removed by the president which is part of his campaign promises, he noted that there is fuel but people are just trying to take advantage of an increased price because if they sellout now at old prices, they may not have money to restock.

“However people still want to buy at the old price, people will go and look for money now to buy more litres and keep because of the price difference but there is fuel,” he said.

Reacting to the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA)’s directive against marketers hoarding fuel, he said there won’t be hoarding of fuel if necessary information on price is provided.

“Let them say the price they want to sell to us quickly, because for now they are the ones that have the fuel and they are the one selling to us,” he said.

Osatuyi said the immediate reaction stems from the fact that the announcement came directly from the president who already has the power to issue directives hence delay would have been dangerous.

Prior to his swearing in, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), issued a statement asking the new president not to rush in his decision making on any policy until the products are actually in the market from the Dangote refinery.

NUPENG said that the new administration should make all public refineries functional and should not because of the anticipatory products availability from Dangote refinery.

“It’s also very imperative for the new administration to have robust engagement and discussion with all key stakeholders, most especially the organised Labour on ways and means to mitigate these consequences (of subsidy removal) on employment, inflation and living conditions of the working people,” it said.