Nigeria’s Dr. Ibe Kachikwu is to be burnt at the stake for declaring that the country’s current fuel crisis is set to linger on till May, after claiming he has no magic wand to make the fuel scarcity disappear from the country. According to ThisDay newspaper, the minister complained about not being able to rectify the situation just yet. While answering a question on when queues are likely to disappear from fuel stations, he said; “One of the trainings I did not receive is that of a magician, but I am working very hard to ensure some of these issues go away.”
While it is laughable that the GMD will make such a sensational declaration, bearing in mind that the Nigerian masses who bear the brunt of the lingering crisis will take it personally, he cannot really be blamed as it may have been caused by exasperation. Every day, driving or walking past fuel stations in metropolitan cities like Lagos and Abuja, endless queues are a permanent feature but that is not even the worst of it. Men, women and even children with jerry cans of various sizes and shapes, often jostle to get access to kerosene as it remains the main source of cooking especially in rural areas as it is perceived to be cheaper. Many times, they do not queue up like the cars, instead they fight, in the 36-degree celsius weather!
While addressing the press, the minister revealed some solutions he has come up with after an exchange of ideas with President Buhari. “Our strategy is that whatever is produced in the refineries will not go for sale, we are going to keep them in strategic reserves, because the key problem here is that there are no reserves anytime there is gap in supply. So we are going to dedicate the next couple of months to moving all the products that we produce to strategic reserves so that we can pile up reserves in the nation,” he said.
Even with the plan, the minister still has to address the current petroleum crisis in the country and it also appears he needs to adopt the diplomacy and tact of a sitting minister. The situation is understandably tense but if he goes around making statements that reek of fear and confusion, the masses will have no choice but take that fear and run with it, escalating an already terrible situation.