Monday, May 12, 2008

Fuel Scarcity in Nigeria- an NNC’s Perspective

Nigeria of recent has been going through another round of fuel crisis with attendant queues at Petrol Stations across the country. The imminent cause remains in the realm of speculation; an apparent attempt by the government to hike the pump price of fuel, Pipe vandalization by vandals, port congestion, just to mention a few.

This issue of fuel crisis seems to have no end in Nigeria for it seems to be always going on in circles, in an undulating curve over time. But we still come to the question, what is the cause of this?

Fuel Scarcity in Nigeria seems to be an irony for us regarded as a land of abundant oil supplies. Nigeria is the 10th country with the largest oil reserve after Libya which is in the ninth position in the world (Oil & Gas Journal, Vol. 103, No. 47 (Dec. 19, 2005). From: U.S. Energy Information Administration). That is, Nigeria ranks second in Africa after Libya in the countries with the highest oil reserves in Africa. Yet we have scarcity of this product. A serious irony you would say.

The question now is, have the dark days of the military regime returned again? Why, this is because a fuel queue is a major relic of the dark days of the military juntas that held sway in the country for about 30 years. Where hoarding of the product, black market selling, adulteration of the product was the order of the day. Perhaps it is better to say, it’s the hang over effects of the military that is still holding sway and rearing its ugly head every now and then. So we should ask then, what is the reason behind the fuel scarcity in Nigeria in this democratic dispensation? Oil officials adduce the reason to

a) Panic-buying, b) Petrol hoarding, c) Striking oil workers, d) Broken-down refineries, e) Fears of war in Iraq, f) World oil markets according to a BBC report. But there are other reasons as well. Of recent, inspection of the oil content being imported into the country by Department of Petroleum Resources showed it contained a high level of ethanol which damages engine of vehicles. The standard ethanol content acceptable in the country is 5% meanwhile that imported was between 20% - 25% which is quite high! Another reason is pipeline vandalisation with devastating loss of lives due to fire explosion by illegal scooping of the fuel by Nigerians in different parts of the country.

So what can we do to resolve this perennial fuel scarcity that haunts us like a faceless voice in the dark? That tears at the fiber of our development the way a Lion tears up its victims mercilessly.

Different attempts have actually been made by the government to solve this problem. In particular is the repair of the refineries in the country. Presently, the refineries operate at a combined 75% capacity with Port Harcourt refinery supplying the bulk of domestic needs. This means that the majority of the products come in via importation. The government is trying to bring the refineries up to full capacity by deregulation which to me seems not to be working.

Also, the government seems to be stepping up security at the various pipelines to forestall vandalisation, how long this will take and how efficient it will be is still a matter of time.

But it all seems not to be enough to tackle this problem or the government is overwhelmed by its many responsibilities to its citizens. So what actually is the way out.

A New Nigeria

A group off passionate young Nigerians have decided to come together to forge a common front for the development of our country Nigeria. Our prayer is enshrined in the second stanza of the national anthem of our country. So, what are we actually proposing?

We are proposing a situation in which the solution to this fuel scarcity would not be a perennial government headache or the government must proffer a solution way. We are saying that we can actually sit down and chart the course we want to follow for the solution to this problem.

One of the things we are proposing first and foremost is a reorientation of our value system. That is, we need to see value in our country and in ourselves. Change starts from within out. We need to see that together we can make our nation worthwhile for us.

To this fuel scarcity, we can actually talk to ourselves and say lets stop panic buying. When panic steps into a situation, all sense of reasoning is lost. Let’s look out for an alternate source of energy instead of fuel for our vehicles. We can actually sponsor a research into the use of solar energy for power and any other alternate source of energy. Nigeria happens to be a country overflowing with untapped resources. Water is there, solar is there, wind and let’s just name a few!

Okay, crude oil seems to be all we have for now, fine, let’s pool funds together and build a private refinery that would be working at 100% capacity and meeting local demands. Let the government privatize the refineries and let’s buy up a majority shares in it and inject a new life into the refineries. Let’s run them the way we would want to run our own personal companies which would be our only source of living. Let’s see it not as it is every bodies business and let see it as our responsibility. Our business.

So in effect, we are saying, fuel scarcity can be solved if we look inwards and develop other forms of resources around us, nurture our dreams and actually work towards achieving it and implementing it! Nigeria brims with potentials, we need only reflect deeply, and we are on the path of glory. Long live Nigeria! Long live the Nigerians! Long live NNC!

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