Nigeria: Do you have a gallon of fuel?
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The chapters from the North American Review.
You see the Nigerian looks upon Nigeria as a theatre and the entire population representing and manifesting the full spectrum of acts and actors. In this revelry, life is the theatre; the nation is the stage upon which we perform.
The politicians and a few of us are the actors, very often mediocre. When stars appear it is more often because a play must have a star rather than because the player is possessed of some dramatic genius. We falter and we muff our lines; sometimes our performance takes on aspect of the grotesque.
Nobody takes this seriously because it is perceived as being the nature of the play. Our people become the audience. I once watched in bemusement, a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mother with a stranger in bed. When his father came home, the poor young boy was at a loss on how to communicate his discovery.
After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father on the other hand patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbors or the family doctor?
So while we were engaged with movies such as Atiku rejoining PDP and allied politics of convention, in far away Imo State, Rochas continued his nights of 1000 laughs by adding to his collection: the commissioner for happiness and something-onething. In our education sector, SSANU, NAAT began an indefinite strike. Also the Social Media remained lively with the #endsars.
My President was equally in Kano State throwing jabs at the opposition PDP or rather opposition Atiku, and reiterating his promises on anti-graft and other mouthing. And in all these events, the main movie of the year, one that has become a reoccurring decimal…Fuel Scarcity was silently released.
From Lagos, it crept into Ogun, soon as usual Abuja had the queues and Jos, and environs are feeling the heat already. Black marketers have since resumed work. A newspaper had this “The Federal Government has blamed the ongoing fuel scarcity on increased demand by nations in temperate regions.
Addressing State House correspondents after a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said: This is winter period. There is always more demand for refined products from petroleum during winter in the colder countries. This is what we are experiencing now.
Notwithstanding, he said the Council directed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, to end the situation before the end of the week.
Mohammed also insisted: The government has no intention at all to increase the pump price of petrol. Marketers meanwhile are blaming the NNPC for alleged favoritism in distribution of petrol. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) monitoring team visited five depots: Obat, Sahara, Nipco, Dee Jones and Aiteo yesterday and discovered an uneven allocation of products.
Consequently, the Assistant Director, Retail Outlets Monitoring, Downstream Division, DPR, Mrs. Ijeoma Otti-Onyeri, who led the team, compelled private depots with products to give priority to Lagos State in order to end scarcity. She ordered that 80 per cent of what was being loaded should be delivered to Lagos.
This is winter period. There is always more demand for refined products from petroleum during winter in the colder countries. This is what we are experiencing now. Are we doomed to fail, is this man for real? How did we really get to this point?
Meanwhile, Kachikwu at a press briefing in Abuja the following day blamed the fuel crisis on gap in supply of petroleum products. There was obviously some level of gap in terms of volume. That gap arises from the fact that NNPC is the only one that is importing products currently. Most of the private sector companies, who are expected to import, were not able to bring in products. And some of them are pushed back till January.
So, you have NNPC trying to fill up 100 per cent capacity. An explanation that contradicts one earlier given by the same government he serves in. To an already horror movie, is that, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) equally issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government vowing to shut down all oil and gas installations.
In a statement signed by its general secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, PENGASSAN alleged some indigenous oil and gas companies and marginal field players were operating unfair labour practices. It also expressed displeasure over alleged mass sack of Nigerian workers.
For Nigerians, all these remain tiring. This is a nation that is hungry and not in protest mode. There’s no fuel scarcity but fuel criminality with a leadership that lacks will. Where are the refineries promised, and all that propaganda of refineries that received budgetary allocations called ‘Turn Around Money’ and were working at various percentile capacities? As usual, no PMS in the fuel stations but unregistered and black marketers all have the commodity.
For decades, we continue to suffer the December Fuel Flogging with all those responsible rationalising and justifying absurdities. It is even more disheartening when the intellectual effort and voice of the elite are at the heart of such theatricals due to ethno-religious cleavages birthed on economic disenfranchisement.
The future of Nigeria is bright, interesting, but scary if we reflect about it. Teachers are illiterates, students can’t go to school because schools are closed down and alternatives unaffordable. The change is bleak…with minds largely improvished and constantly on the queue at the end of the year.
In a functional society, a working democracy with a strategic plan, a modern mass transit system, which connect cities to towns, workers to businesses and government facilities, in order to foster the productivity of the entire economy, would have been in place. The fuel management chain is a lucrative cankerworm of corruption.
A serious government can yet tackle it, and it’s beyond committees and white papers. Mr. Buhari can. I believe he can but he doesn’t know that he can. I doubt if he’s ready. The hawks are having a field day but each fleeting moment, three facts of life beckons, the rising of sun, setting of the moon and truth only time will tell.
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