News / Africa

    Nigerian Fuel Price Spike Sparks Corruption Probe

    A gas station displays the price for fuel at a petrol station in Lagos, Nigeria, January 17, 2012.
    A gas station displays the price for fuel at a petrol station in Lagos, Nigeria, January 17, 2012.

    Nigeria has entered a new period of political unrest following the government's decision to abolish a consumer fuel subsidy, causing prices to more than double at the pump. The increase has since been eased in response to a national strike. The price shock is prompting Nigerians to ask why Africa's largest oil exporter is forced to import so much of its domestic fuel supply.

    Valentine Ngema fidgets nervously as he sits behind the wheel of his car. He's been waiting more than an hour for his turn at the gas pump.

    Like other Nigerians, Ngema has been through a roller coaster ride since the government removed gasoline subsidies on New Year's Day, a move that initally more than doubled the cost to consumers.

    But now that nationwide protests have forced the government to retreat a bit, supplies have dried up. Ngema said the price fluctuations are an indication of corruption.

    "The oil industry is corrupt. They have hijacked everything. That's why we are suffering now," Ngema says.

    Another motorist idling his car along the road, Toby Onofego, wonders why Africa's leading exporter of crude oil has so little refining capacity that it must import most of its gasoline.

    "We have the crude oil, we produce the raw material, and in fact we are one of the largest oil producers as well, and I don't think we're supposed to be suffering like this. It's stressful," said Onofego.

    Though tensions have eased since the strike ended, Nigerians are seething with anger at the realization that what they thought was a government oil subsidy to help them survive, may have hidden systematic theft by government cronies.

    At a Nigerian congressional hearing this week, Farouk Lawan, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidies, charged that last year as much as 14 million liters a day of imported oil disappeared.

    "Take 2011; the per-day discharge is 59 million liters per day. What that means is that the gap of 14 million [liters] per day is paid for by Nigerians as subsidy, but which is not utilized in Nigeria. And it means someone, somehow is being shortchanged, and of course that is the ordinary Nigerian," said Lawan.

    The government initially justified abolishing the oil subsidy by saying it was aimed at breaking the stranglehold of unscrupulous operators.  But anti-corruption campaigner Garba Umar Kari said the latest revelations seem to implicate government officials.

    "It is the most lucrative setup. All you need to do to get a license to import refined petroleum is to know the minister of petroleum or a senior official within the oil ministry," said Kari. "It has been alleged that they use members of their families, they use their friends, they use ruling party officials. They simply give them licenses and allocate thousands of liters for them."

    Kari said a sharp rise in the amount of oil the government said it imported last year has given rise to allegations that the proceeds were diverted for political campaigns.

    "What everybody was saying secretly is that the money was used for the 2011 elections. That's why Nigerians are angry. They are saying that the overspent money was used for political campaigns to get the president re-elected," said Kari.

    President Goodluck Jonathan's government has asked the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the charges.  The prospect of a probe by a commission feared for its investigative prowess, however, has done little to calm public concerns about official corruption.






    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora