Buhari and the Fuel Scarcity Conundrum

Apr 25, 2016

The most essential commodity in Nigeria today is fuel. This is despite the fact that the country is rated the world's 6th largest producer of oil and largest in Africa. Ordinarily, going by this fact, Nigeria should have been enjoying unlimited supply of fuel and at very affordable prices. But sadly, that has not been the case.
As at last Thursday the commodity was selling for between N200 and N220 in Anambra State, while in some other states, it sold even more. Yet in some states like Lagos, it was very scarce due to the enforcement of the approved pump price of N86.50 which came into effect in January this year.
But the bottom line is that the ongoing fuel crisis has brought the nation to her knees. Many businesses have ground to a halt and thousands of Nigerians spend their productive hours queuing for fuel at many filling stations, thereby crippling the nation's economy further.
While Nigerians groan and suffer, the federal government has appeared largely clueless. One would have expected that given the enormity of the crisis, that the government would long have come up with palliative measures but rather than that, what Nigerians have witnessed is a daily worsening of the crisis.
An example of the federal government's cluelessness were the conflicting statements credited to the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, concerning the terminal date of the current fuel scarcity. This had led to a minor rumble in the cabinet when some members went for Kachikwu's jugular, asking for his resignation. If Nigerians were looking towards the FG for salvation, that incident must have dampened their faith.
Since then Kachikwu has promised to once again ease the pains of the masses, by giving hope of ending the crisis. But the fact that this has lingered for this long is a huge indictment on the government which has so far shown Nigerians little hope that it can manage their affairs.
Indeed, since the coming on board of the Buhari administration, it has been one huge disappointment for the nation which expected much from a regime that promised equally much but has only been giving little.
It is indeed inconceivable that Nigerians have not been able to be bailed out of this energy crisis predicament. Rather than apply solutions to it, the president has been junketing the globe on missions whose outcome is yet to be determined.
It has also spent a lot of its energy going after former public officers through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Good as that may be, given the likelihood of ploughing the looted funds back into the economy, it should not be the sole focus of the administration.
The government should therefore seek means of permanently solving this perennial energy crisis by building more refineries and deregulating the downstream sector. This was what the previous government and others before it failed to do and now the matter has become so bad following the global economic down turn.
Nigeria should also begin to seriously explore other means of survival away from oil. The dependence on oil is largely what led the country to the present predicament.
One of the other ways the country can survive is through agriculture. This is an area that needs action rather than words as has been the case all this while.
We should also patronize home made products and not become slaves to imported ones. This way the local economy will blossom and become stronger.
Everything is not about hounding looters. What is needed now is for the federal government to get down to business and chart a well-defined direction for the country in order to gain the confidence of the masses.
Without this, we will just be going round and round. 



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