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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.