Despite the assurances by stakeholders in the petroleum sector on the resolution of the crisis in the sector, fuel scarcity has persisted in Abuja with widespread sharp practices recorded across almost all the petrol stations.
Of note is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, mega stations along the Kubwa Expressway, where some officials of the outlet connived with some policemen and security agents to frustrate motorists and heighten the suffering of Nigerians.
Specifically, it was gathered, some policemen stationed outside the entrance were collecting N1,000 from some motorists and allowing them to enter into the petrol station through the exit gate, thereby, leaving other motorists who had queued for hours stranded.
Also, of the over 40 pumps in the station, only about nine were dispensing to motorists. Two of the pumps were selling to the hundreds of vehicles on the queue, while the rest were selling to black marketers and other motorists who have bribed the officials of the petrol station and policemen at the gate.
Spokesperson for the NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe and Managing Director of the NNPC Retail Limited, operators of the mega stations and other NNPC retail outlets, Mr. Chris Osarumwense, refused to respond to enquiries and complaints sent to them over the issue, even as the situation continued late into the night at the petrol stations.
One of the motorists said he had been on the queue since 5 am but was not yet halfway to the entrance of the petrol station because of the sharp practices in the station.
The source, who does not want his name in print, said: “Some motorists and black market operators came through the other side of the road, choosing not to queue, they drove straight to the exit gate of the petrol station, where they offered N1,000 bribe to some policemen, military men and the officials of the petrol station stationed at the gate. The exit gate is then opened for these people to go in.
“As this is going on, people on the queue remained on the spot for several hours, without any movement.”
Another motorist, who also chose to remain anonymous, said: “The black marketers come mainly in Volkswagen Golf cars, with extra tanks at the boot of the vehicles. After filling the tanks of their vehicles, the attendants go ahead to fill the extra tanks at the back of the vehicles. Sometimes, these tanks collect as much as 270 litres of petroleum.
The situation is however, a bit relaxed in Ibadan with a few independent marketers dispensing fuel to motorists; leading to a natural death of the black market business in the city. A survey conducted by the Street Journal revealed that no single major marketer has fuel throughout the ancient city of Ibadan. More independent marketers however, now have the commodity being sold at prices ranging between N130 and N150 per litre.
The long queues that were a regular feature in the various filling stations across the metropolis have suddenly disappeared, except in a few stations that sell at the lowest price. A motorist, Adeola Adigun told our correspondent that the government’s controversial policy of fuel price deregulation has taken off seamlessly in Ibadan.
”You know we are the pace setter state; so, deregulation has taken of in Oyo”, he said amusingly.
He said the Buhari administration should take the bull by the horn by deregulating the downstream sector of the oil industry, if that is all it would take to ameliorate the suffering of the masses in the hands of the cabal that have held the industry by the jugular. According to him, the fuel price cannot be higher than what is obtainable now in the market if the market is to be fully deregulated.
Speaking in the same vein, another respondent, Alhaji Mukaila Are, said the new administration should go into a wide consultation with the stakeholders particularly, the labour and civil society groups on the need to take the far reaching decision. He said, the new government would be boxed into a corner due to paucity of funds occasioned by the huge funds budgeted for fuel subsidy year in year out. ”No country survives by such huge expenses on frivolities as the bigger chunk of the money goes into private pockets”, he warned.