Christmas without fuel, Christmas without merry
Recall that 2016 Christmas was tough on Nigerians: it was a ‘recessed Christmas.’
With the exchange rate rising daily and the economy crashing down, everyone one knew it was going to be a tough yuletide.
While some, especially those, who have important engagement in the village managed to travel, many didn’t. To them, the situation was better managed in the city. Indeed, the villagers felt the impact.
Now, you understand why most Nigerians were eager to see 2017 Christmas; everyone looked forward to it. Somehow, it was supposed to be a makeup for the ‘recessed Christmas.’ And with the news of Nigeria exiting recession, expectations were high.
But as it turned out, the reverse was the case; Nigerians got a merry-less Christmas.
Who would have predicted a fuel scarcity under President Muhammadu Buhari? Forget about that promise of reducing fuel price; it was purely campaign gimmick.
The truth is, after pump price was increased from N87 to N145, many thought that would mark the end of fuel scarcity in Nigeria. The sad experience of last December, however, revealed that it’s surely not yet uhuru.
The news of the fuel scarcity started like a rumour online, with several bloggers predicting a possible pump price increase. Before long, there was panic buying, especially in Lagos. As at that time, most filling station were still selling at N145, except for fuel hawkers, who paid a little extra for their gallons.
On TV and radio, government maintained that there was no plan to increase pump price and assured citizens of adequate supply of the product. However, what was said in the media was entirely different from realities on the street; there was panic.
From Lagos to Abuja, then Port Harcourt, the queues started building up with price variations. Before long, the towns and villages started feeling the heat; it was another fuel scarcity in December. While citizens struggled daily to power their generators and fuel their cars to work, government was trading blames with oil markers.
As the scarcity lasted, many prayed it never gets into the Christmas week; everyone hoped for a speedy resolution. Usually, Christmas period is a time for fare hike in Nigeria. And when there’s fuel scarcity, it becomes worse; that was what Nigerians dreaded. Unfortunately, it was a Christians without fuel.
A Costly Christmas In The East
On a good day, fuel pump price in the southeast is always different; you begin to wonder who sells to the marketers. For instance, as at the time fuel was selling at N145 in other places, most fuel stations proudly sold at N150; there was no fear of the DPR. In some cases, they sold bad fuel, which results to damaged car engines.
As transport fare to southeast continued to skyrocket by the day, many predicted it was going to be a costly Christmas in villages. Ordinarily, transport fare to Onitsha was between N3500 to 4500, but as the Christmas season drew nearer, it was jacked up to N7000. By the time the scarcity persisted, fare rose to N10,000 and later N12,000, N15,000 depending on your final destination.
Somehow, independent markers dominate southeast and when you even find major marketers, they are under franchise; services differ from what you get in places like Lagos and Abuja. So, whenever there’s fuel scarcity, product price is usually high. This Christmas, the situation was worse.
As soon as the new of the scarcity in major cities continued to spread, most fuel stations in the southeast adjusted pump price. From N145, it rose to N180, the N200, N250 and before you knew it, fuel sold at N300 at most filling stations. Though the NNPC filling stations maintained the N145 pump price, the queues were massive; people kept vigil at the station. Those, who couldn’t wait, headed for Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Usual, fuel scarcity in Asaba is usually mild. But with pressure from neighboring Anambra and even Imo State native, the case was different. Except for the NNPC station in Asaba, which sold at N145, Northwest Filling Station was the savior for most residents; they maintained pump price of N145 all through. Of course, the queue is usually long; some kept vigil just to get the product.
While most of the independent marketers sold at N200 and N250, Rain Oil sold at N180 per litre at most of their station across Delta State. By the time the DPR teams came for inspection in Asaba, most independent marketers shut down, while the likes of Rain Oil adjusted back to N145, but with very long queues.
As expected, price of foot items and service went high in the southeast, while most travelers spent a good part of their money fueling cars. With poor power supply, everyone ran generators at N250 per litre all through. Now the yuletide is over, fuel price is back at N145. Marketers have made good money from poor citizens, who are back to the cities to hustle after a Christmas without merry.
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