In the last two weeks, Nigerians have been forced to queue for fuel and pay about a dollar more than the official price, despite being citizens of Africa’s biggest oil producer. Its four grounded refineries have ensured most of its locally consumed petroleum products are being shipped from Europe and the US, a situation that has given rise to purported “Subsidy Cabal.”
This cabal (oil marketers) got its relevance from the government’s decision to incur a portion of fuel cost for consumers by regulated the price locally. The difference is paid to this group as Subsidy. Over the last decade, this group has reportedly shared about N3 trillion, a sum that is well over three quarters of the country’s 2015 annual budget.
Despite this, queues remain evident. The group of marketers has claimed that the government still owes it $1 billion, while industry experts believe the uncertainty surrounding the incoming government’s plan on the subsidy scheme has made them reluctant to spend on transporting fuel down to Africa’s most populated country and its biggest economy.
The bickering aside, the real sufferers are local consumers, some of whom are purchasing fuel for N400 per litre ($2.3) at black market rate–four times the official N87 going rate. This is mostly seen in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub where business and board meetings are happening by the minute, and a huge chunk of the higher net worth individuals reside. In the eastern state of Anambra, home to the popular Onitsha Market, one of West Africa’s largest markets, fuel is selling for around N115 to N150. The same is seen in Warri, an oil-producing city, and Benin City.
A survey by NOI Polls showed that the fuel scarcity is biting harder in Nigeria’s Northeast, a region decimated by Boko Haram insurgency. About 97 percent of people in the region admitted they bought petrol above N87 per litre. The Southwest had the lowest percentage of people who bought petrol above N87 per litre.
The poll also revealed that a majority of Nigerians have seen a rise in domestic expenses. About 48 percent are paying higher transport fares, 12 percent are spending more to keep their businesses open, and 3 percent have been unable fuel their cars.
In what way has the fuel scarcity affect you?
Join the conversation on social media and tell us how much you have spent on a litre of fuel recently.
By Ehis Okpamen and Niyi Aderibigbe