News / Economy

Prices, Tensions Soar as Fuel Scarcity Drags On in Nigeria

Prices and Tensions Soar as Fuel Scarcity Drags On in Nigeriai
X
March 12, 2014 4:08 AM
Tensions are high in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, as imported fuel for cars has been scarce across the country for weeks. Heather Murdock reports for VOA from Benin City, Nigeria.
Prices and Tensions Soar as Fuel Scarcity Drags On in Nigeria
Heather Murdock
Tensions are high in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, as imported fuel for cars has been scarce across the country for weeks.  While angry drivers sit in long lines at gas stations to pay skyrocketing prices, the government blames crooked fuel marketers for the shortages. 

At a gas station in southern Nigeria, drivers have been waiting for hours to buy fuel at the government-subsidized price.  The alternative is to pay 30 percent more at one of the few other open stations in town, or buy low-quality black-market fuel for double or triple the cost.

As they wait for hours, baking in their cars under the sun, drivers say it is not just the high price of gas that makes them angry.

“Can not you see me?  I am even sweating now.  Before we see the fuel, it is a very long stress.  So that is just it. That is just it,” said one of the drivers Ojo Odiasi.

Despite the frustration, and the fact that while regular people wait, VIP's are ushered through the back gate, the station is calm.  Locals say everyone knows with tensions so high, an argument could quickly become dangerous.

Nigeria is a major oil producing country, but Nigerians say they see no benefits from the country's oil wealth.  To add insult to injury, they say, the country has to import fuel because its four dilapidated refineries can not produce nearly enough.

In a press release, Nigeria’s petroleum ministry accused fuel marketers and truck drivers of creating a false scarcity to drive up prices.  They say there is no actual shortage of fuel, it is just not being delivered.

Outside his home on a quiet dirt road, Raymond Okoro, a political science lecturer at the University of Benin, says corruption at every level is responsible for the scarcity, including, as the ministry says, among the marketers.

But after years of regular fuel shortages and false promises, he says the Nigerian people ultimately blame the government.

“Within the time frame of a decade, I think it is the highest frustration.  It is not only the issue of fuel scarcity that has ignited that frustration.  Several other socio-economic issues have,” said Okoro.

High unemployment, constant power outages, insecurity and under-development are other infuriating issues, says Okoro.

“If you bring all these elements together and now crown it, just like icing on a cake, with fuel scarcity, you can have a clear picture of how frustrated most persons are, particularly the youth,” he said. 

If the shortage drags on, Okoro says, it could undermine President Goodluck Jonathan’s chances for re-election in 2015.

Despite the long gas lines, drivers say people are hesitant to protest on the streets for fear of violence or arrest.

Yet no issue is more vital for many Nigerians than the price of fuel. 

Near the back of the line about a kilometer from the station, taxi driver Goddey Akpolo says he now makes zero percent profit.

“It affects our business.  So we beg the government to help us buy fuel to save our businesses,” he said.

Akpolo says he continues to work simply to have something to do.

In 2012, nationwide protests broke out when the Nigerian government canceled the national fuel subsidy.

The price of transportation and food doubled, then tripled.  Public outrage forced President Jonathan to partially re-instate the subsidy.

Analysts say ending the fuel shortages is complex and needs an institutional fix.  But as the shortages and long lines continue, Nigerians are growing impatient for a solution.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9034
JPY
USD
120.24
GBP
USD
0.6550
CAD
USD
1.2440
INR
USD
62.254

Rates may not be current.