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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid