News / Economy

Prices, Tensions Soar as Fuel Scarcity Drags On in Nigeria

Prices and Tensions Soar as Fuel Scarcity Drags On in Nigeriai
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 Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.