By Jude Atupulazi
High Cost of Petrol: Heroes and Villains.
Anyone in Nigeria today, least of all those in the Southeast, won’t need to be told how excruciating the high cost of premium motor spirit or petrol has been on the masses. It is a season that many filling stations are using to nail consumers to the wall, so to say, with their merciless and arbitrary increase of the price of petrol.
A station which sold petrol in the morning for N280 will suddenly sell for N300 or more in the afternoon, even when no new consignment has come in. indeed, it is a kind of bazaar for petrol marketers who are having the fun of their lives at the expense of you and me.
Government seems to be watching hands akimbo, quite powerless (or is it clueless) to do anything to stabilize the sector. The masses have been left to suffer the pains as the high cost of petrol is now causing ripple effects in other sectors.
But even amid the madness of arbitrary increase of the price of petrol, there are a few stations that have remained humane. These stations are not fazed by the crowd or lured by the urge to milk the masses. They have been selling their products at reduced prices.
Top on the list of these few good stations is Pinnacle Oil, a petrol station near Immigration Junction along the Awka-Enugu expressway in Awka. At the moment they sell the product at N280 after the time they sold it at N220. While they sell at reduced rates, those around them do not want to know as they have kept selling at astronomical rates.
Jezco Oil at Amawbia Bypass has also remained humane within this turbulent period. They have not sold their product beyond N320, even when some sold at N350. At the moment they are selling their product at N300.
Near Jezco is the MRS Station at by Amawbia/Express Junction. As I wrote this piece, it was sold at N310 there. There is also Rain Oil by Regina Junction which has been selling for N280.
One may be forgiven to mistake these stations for ones owned by religious organizations because of their humane way of doing business. But they are owned by private individuals.
They remain my heroes of this period.
Now to the villains. These are all the filling stations that have seen this period as an opportunity to amass wealth. At the top of this category is a church owned station in Awka which has continued selling the product at a high price. At the moment of writing this, petrol there was sold at N330; the highest I have seen this period.
Now, you may ask, what is the use of being a church owned station when there is nothing religious in their dealings with customers? To me, their action, as I wrote on this page once, is a huge embarrassment to the Church. I just cannot fathom why they should be among the few in Awka selling their product at N330.
Is it that this station and others are not aware of where others who sell at reduced rates buy their fuel? Before now they were even selling at N350 when Jezco and MRS were selling at N300 and N310.
By acting as greedily as the rest, this church owned petrol station has lost an opportunity to preach evangelism through its business. You need to hear how people describe them any time their name crops up, with one journalist saying the only thing Christian about them is their name.
Again as I wrote on this column last year, if the Church knows she cannot do business in such a way that will bring glory to God, let her not dabble into business. Any business run by the Church should be one that people should see as a last resort. Same goes for this filling station which the long suffering masses should see as their last option to buy petrol cheaper, while trusting their meter.
Of all those filling stations that are doing as they like within this period, this one owned by the Church gets the tag of villain. It has been rubbishing the image of the Church and should retrace its steps and toe the right path. If it cannot find out where others who sell at cheaper rates get their product, let it close shop and find something else to do. Their action does not give glory to God and his Church. This is the bitter truth.
Crooked banks and the masses
This is not a period to hold the old Naira notes. It is so because the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that the deadline for some denominations of the old notes to remain legal tenders is on Tuesday, January 31. It has also insisted that it will not extend the deadline.
But the problem is that by now when everybody should have long been receiving the new notes, many people are still to even touch any of the notes. Yet, these notes are being sold in the markets to those who want to spray money at events. So the question arises as to why banks don’t have the new notes and individuals have them and sell them in the markets.
Again, as at Wednesday, January 25, banks’ Automated Telling Machines, ATMs, in Awka had suddenly stopped operating and I suspect it is because they are reluctant to issue the new notes. Their action, after several assurances by the CBN that commercial banks would start issuing new notes is shameful.
We know that this is an opportunity for some bank staff and executives to do brisk business with individuals and some corporate organizations through the back door. But they are also not covering themselves in glory. Many of them will go to church on Sundays and clap and dance more than the angels in heaven but out abu ezi. Ebe eluigwe di eteka and, as Nigerians will say, their shame dey shame me; even as I ask, are we cursed or are we the cause?
Soludo, making good his promise on roads
Many parts of the state are now assuming the look of construction sites as was promised by Anambra governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, shortly on assumption of office. He had also promised to build quality roads that would last for twenty years.
I have never doubted Soludo’s ability to transform Anambra State. He’s got a name to protect and that will motivate him, above all else, not to fail. I’m mighty pleased to see work going on on many roads, including the ones in my office area. It was getting to a situation where the thought of going to my office or leaving after work terrified me because of the horrible nature of the roads. Today, those roads are facing what looks like serious work and if Soludo keeps to his promise of making them very durable, then we will be seeing a new era.
The greatest enemies to vehicles in our parts are bad roads. They keep weakening tyres and the under bellies of vehicles, making many to visit their mechanics more often than is necessary. But I am happy that we will begin to enjoy the roads again pretty soon, going by what I’m seeing. I only pray for the sustenance of work on these roads so that they will be through long before the rains come.