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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 09:47 GMT
Nigerian fuel shortages worsen
Motorists across Nigeria are grappling with acute fuel shortages, with long queues of angry motorists waiting for hours outside those petrol stations which have supplies.

One motorist told the BBC that he was unable to find any petrol along the 500km road from Maiduguri in Borno State to the capital, Abuja.

The government thought it had ended fuel queues

Such problems were common during the long period of military rule in the 1980s and 1990s but the government had hoped it had solved them.

Information Minister Jerry Gana has blamed unnamed "political enemies" for causing the shortages in order to discredit the government in the run-up to general elections in April.

"For three years, we resolved the (fuel shortage) problem and then suddenly because we are now campaigning, some people thought they could make some subterranean moves just to discredit us," Mr Gana said.

Oil officials have provided a raft of other reasons for the sudden shortage of petrol:

  • Panic-buying;
  • Petrol hoarding;
  • Striking oil workers;
  • Broken-down refineries;
  • Fears of war in Iraq;
  • World oil markets.
Nigeria is a major oil exporter but most petrol is imported.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in Abuja says that queues stretching for more than a kilometre are a common sight.

He also says that petrol is available on the black for 400 naira ($3) a gallon - about four times the official price.

'Dark days return'

During the military era, corruption, smuggling and mismanagement led to massive petrol queues and some of those caught in Lagos traffic jams felt a sense of deja vu.

"It is like the Abacha dark days are here again," civil servant Celestine Orji said sadly, remembering the regime of late military ruler General Sani Abacha.

"What sort of country is this? Why should we continue to suffer in the midst of plenty?" he asked.

One man was relieved to get a full tank after a four-hour wait.

Workers in Nigeria's oil exporting industry briefly went on strike last week but this should not have affected domestic supplies of imported petrol.

However, this may have prompted panic buying, worsened by fears that a war in Iraq may lead to a rise in the price of petrol.

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Your comments

My brothers wake up by 5am to get petrol for their cars and don't get home till 12noon. Why are they at home on week days in the first place, because their schools are on stike when will these problems end.
Buki, Nigeria

Your topic for discussion here was "Are you stranded without petrol or stuck in a petrol queue in Nigeria?" My response is No; I am not stranded in Nigeria for lack of fuel in the country. Instead I feel stranded IN THE UNITED STATES due to the glaring lack of foresight and basic accountability in the management of Nigeria¿s resources.
Ijeoma Osunkwo, USA

As at 9 p.m Thursday 27th of February, the PPL(price per litre) of petrol sold on the black market was as high as 130 Naira (almost $.90 equivalent). In the long hours spent in traffic a few petrol laiden tankers were seen moving around. Though this was a sight of relief, however, due to the long queues at the stations and the fact that the supplies seem sporadic, this may not relieve the situation. Those few who have made it a habit to capitalize on the so called "artificial scarcity" may however find other ways of cutting short supplies by possibly hoarding them only to sell at even higher prices. These are testing times for the Obasanjo Government especially at times when fingers are being pointed at saboteurs.
OMAR A-H, Nigeria

This is not the problem of Britian. It is the problem of Nigeria. Leave us to solve our problem. All these while, I did not see you report about the avaliablity of petrol in Nigeria. It is when there is scarcity that you will report it. Well, I know you will not place this on your website. Thanks
Augustine Danladi, Nigeria

Govt should act rather than complain. I think there are two options here - end the scarcity or stop the saboteurs
Alex Ochonogor, Nigeria

Petrol Ministry has no Minister but directly supervised by the President himself. Senior officers of the Nigerian National Petroleum (NNPC) and its subsidiaries are staff of the Federal Government Ministry who are responsible for the importation of fuel for local use. Where does the political oponents come in here? Is President Obasanjo saying that he gave the licence of fuel importation to members of other rival political parties.
Abel Iyasele, Nigeria

It is really terrible down here now,people now sleep in fuel stations.The truth is that the Government is completely a failure.We need intelligent people who are not greedy to rule us now.Enough is enough.
Zubby, Warri, Nigeria

I am not surprised that the official excuse from Government is the usual one for inefficiency these days - "activities of political enemies". The truth is, we have failed to address the real problem of fuel scarcity, namely the comatose state of our local refineries, improper distribution and outright diversion. The massive importation of fuel has only had the effect that can be likened to that of a Band aid (small plaster)on multiple gunshot wounds.
Anthony Sawyerr, Lagos, Nigeria

God, please save us in this our country! We need your divine intervention.
Alero, Nigeria

The fuel in my car is nearly finished. I have found a stop-gap solution: park my car and walk.
Joshua D., Nigeria

The reason being put forward by Prof Jerry Gana regarding this biting fuel scarcity is totally unacceptable. They should find solution now. It is high time they lived up to their responsibilities of providing purposeful and true leadership. Isn't it a big shame that Nigeria is still importing petrol? If the Government can not provide adequate fuel, why not allow private companies to establish and operate refinaries?
David Emekihia, Lagos, Nigeria

Well, it's been serious here, but every nation,I believe, has its problem to battle with. This is our cross, our leaders should deal with it in our own way. If truly the resurgence of fuel scarcity is to discredit the government, posterity will judge us all. Our vote, I agree, is our power. We shall deal with all aspirants on merit. Nigeria is our own.
Lekan, Nigeria

This is not the time to apportion blame on anybody. we need solutions urgently because it's not just the motorists who are suffering; businesses are too. this period of scarcity seems to have also affected the supply of electricity because hardly do we have light these days. let govt forget every threat this might be to their re-election bid and come to the aid of the suffering masses.
Ogo, Nigeria

President Olusegun Obasanjo should monopolise the oil sector for efficiency. People of Nigeria are paying through their nose to get a drop of petrol a day.
chinwe, Nigeria

There should be no excuses for failure. I think the government is trying to develop a 'blame culture' by not admitting its lack of vision for the country. A country like Nigeria should not be importing petrol in the first case. It is a big shame.
Ade Ogunmefun, United Kingdom

I am always stranded since the inception of fuel scarcity.The transport fares is too exorbitant and many people scramble for few commercial buses available. There are long queues everywhere in Lagos which make it difficult to get to where you are going in time. I think it is the handwork of the politician contesting for next election. They want to destabilize the country and suffer the poor masses just because of their selfish interest. God will punish them all.
Lookman Adekunle, Nigeria

My question is, why the slow response by the govt in reacting to the fuel shortage. Why the deciept, intrigue and annoying denials by those in authority? Why the conspiracy of silence by both the print and electronic media?
Omotayo Amachree, Nigeria

Enemies of democracy are at work in Nigeria again. A short strike shouldn't be an excuse for the suffering most people are undergoing now. I have not been able to use my car for the past week because of fuel shortage but we have oil.
Umesi Adindu Izundu, Nigeria

I spent about 8hrs in the queue without getting fuel. The attendants are not helping matters as they prefer to sell in jerrycans. Its unfortunate that we have the oil, the money but the government and their cronies are carting away our money while the masses are suffering. The day of reckoning is around the corner.
Otavie Gilbert, Nigeria

Sola Odunfa reporting for BBC Focus on Africa
"Frustration is compounded by the government's failure to offer a rational explanation..."











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