The heat, fuel and darkness challenge!
Most parts of the country are presently being ravaged by high temperatures that make living hellish. As if that is not bad enough, we have in our hands, starring us menacingly in the face, the twin problem of fuel scarcity and interrupted darkness! It is a challenge that can grind the country to a halt, a challenge the government must tackle.
Nigerians, as a people have been living with power outages and fuel scarcity for some few decades now and have lived to manage themselves around the problem each time either of the two problems comes visiting but when they come together, it becomes a national emergency and should be treated as such. Nigerians need fuel to power their lives and livelihood since interrupted darkness is the order of the day. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC now imports 78% of refined petroleum products needed by consumers, as we are told, but the reality on the streets is that the NNPC imports 22% while the independent marketers import the balance! Surveys conducted in Osogbo, Ibadan, Lagos and Abeokuta indicates that some of the NNPC mega stations sell less than 50% of their stock at the controlled price of N86/litre and sell the balance into carefully organized jerry cans that eventually find their way into the booming black market. The independent marketers are selling fuel as at the time of filing this report at an average of N180/litre all over the South-Western part of the country. One can only imagine at what rate our brothers and sisters will be buying fuel outside the region. Investigations revealed that most of the independent marketers are selling fuel at a depot price of N140/litre! Why is the NNPC selling at N86/litre and the independent marketers at N180? Are we to believe the NNPC is subsidizing what it sells to Nigerians with N100/litre? Where does NNPC get its refined crude and where do the independent marketers get theirs? Why has this disparity lingered for so long and why is the problem so daunting? Oil price has crashed, why is the price of petrol hitting the roof in Nigeria? What is the role of DPR in all of this? Perhaps, the re-introduction of subsidy will close the gap between controlled price and black market but these questions remain to be answered.
Power problem has been resident in Nigeria for a very long time that some Nigerians have never seen 6 hours uninterrupted light since they were born! It is this same problem that promising and reliable minds have, at different times, been drafted to tackle but ended up being tackled! Enter Babatunde Raji Fashola, the former governor for example in Lagos. His assumption as the power minister made so many, including foetuses and eboras jumped for joy! The Honourable minister has rolled out his plans for putting an end to the darkness conundrum, he has made efforts and dialogued with the power generating and distributing companies and has come to the compromise that the tariff needs to be reviewed upwards if his fellow countrymen must move from interrupted darkness to interrupted light. The honourable minister was stopped in his tracks by Nigeria’s national assembly who pointedly told him to halt such efforts as the increment on darkness tariff and look at further options on re-energising the sector. Could this be the reason why the matter has been stalemated ever since or is there more to this than meets the eyes? The honourable minister needs to reassure his fellow countrymen, especially those that follow him with worshipful adulation, on what he has done, is doing and will do, to end this cycle of darkness. If it is 3,000Mwatts we are currently generating, he should let us know what that translates to in terms of how many hours of electricity we would be getting over how long and be charged accordingly as well as plans over how long to increase the hours supplied to the average Nigerian consumer. Nigerians can reach him at http://www.tundefashola.com. Yet the minister should endeavour to reach as many Nigerians who cannot afford the luxury of the internet besides re-engaging our law makers on the need to have a rethink on the tariff issue, at least for the benefit of majority of Nigerians.
These are trying times for all countries that depend solely on crude oil as a major source of revenue particularly as the present government is making efforts to diversify the economy away from oil but the reality is that with the way Nigeria is wired, Nigerians need the limited hours of electricity they can get from the distribution companies otherwise referred to as DISCOS and augment with petrol they can get from the filling stations to power their lives and businesses through I pass my neighbor and I pass my councilor generators otherwise, why should a few individuals, corporate entities that is, be dancing disco with our corporate destiny? President Mohammadu Buhari should end the pains and trials his people have been subjected to over the past few weeks by the sudden reappearance of darkness and fuel scarcity at the same time. This is the challenge the government must tackle with immediate effect and automatic alacrity!
Kayode Adeoye is an energy analyst from Lagos.