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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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 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.

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
0.8907
JPY
USD
119.77
GBP
USD
0.6496
CAD
USD
1.2492
INR
USD
61.941

Rates may not be current.