Nigeria’s economic capital city of Lagos and the inland political capital of Abuja Sunday remained in the throes of fuel scarcity, which government officials have labelled ‘artificial’.
The perennial fuel queues in Abuja got worse during the past week, while the pro duct suddenly became scarce in Lagos on Saturday, apparently as fuel marketers e m barked on hoarding with the aim of reaping huge profits after an anticipated der e gulation of fuel prices would have taken effect 1 Nov.
But officials of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) ha ve said the government is not yet ready for the deregulation, which workers’ uni o ns have warned would raise fuel prices and worsen the poverty level in the count r y.
They also said there is enough fuel at the depots around the country.
“As of today, we have 42 days’ sufficiency for premium motor spirit (petrol),” NNPC spokesman Levi Ajuonuma told the local media, and noted that marketers wer e deliberately strangulating the market by selling from a few pumps or shutting d o wn their stations entirely.
An NNPC official, Aminu Baba Kusa, set the stage for the current scarcity when h e announced that the government would begin the deregulation of the downstream s e ctor of the country’s oil industry 1 Nov.
However, after the umbrella Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) threatened a nationwid e strike, the government seemed to have soft-pedalled on the plan, saying it was
not yet ready to implement the policy.
Oil-producing Nigeria depends on fuel imports for domestic fuel consumption, due to non-functioning refineries at home.