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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid