Kerosene, Subsidy and other big words
Petrol scarcity in Nigeria has gradually become a normal day activity. Nigerians have been forced to get out of their beds as early as 4:30am in hunt for petrol at filling stations that shut their gates at 7am. Even though this is a huge problem, the current situation begs the question “How did we get here?”
With the entire nation focused on fuel and all the drama that ensues from having a surplus of it- or lacking it, it has probably not occurred to anyone that the poorest of the poor in Nigeria are left to struggle with kerosene every single day for day to day activity and depend largely on it for income. We-middle to upper class Nigerians, may have also forgotten that the subsidy on kerosene is only on paper and nobody has paid much attention to what is going on in this area.
A few weeks ago, Hon. Dakuku Peterside chaired the House committee on Petroleum Downstream investigating Kerosene subsidy in cold meeting room 321 of the national assembly. The air was tense. In spite of the importance of fuel in the country, some invited organizations however thought it well to be absent from the meeting. The presence of companies like General Marine and Oil services, Sure Marine Services, Marine Technical Services International and SQUA, made the probe completely monotonous. Questions surrounding the genesis of their companies’ operation, how many transshipments have been made, major differences between HHK – Household Kerosine, DPK – Dual Purpose Kerosine and ATK-Aviation Turbine Kerosine, kept flying across the room over and over. Tricky questions about the parties present at the point of discharging kerosene were also asked. This particular question got quite irregular responses from the organizations present. Most organizations the committee thought had discrepancies in their dealings were asked to submit cases showing where less products had been supplied instead of the actual product packaged as some companies claimed that the turbulence at sea could increase or decrease the volume of HHK.
As usual, the probing never goes beyond what is on paper. What then happens to the barrels of kerosene misappropriated? What happens to those Nigerians who ought to pay N50 for kerosene but still pay N150? Should subsidy be taken out-is there not much more to gain by the Nigerian economy? Have we forgotten what big communications companies used to be in the 90’s and what they are now? Regardless of the fact that they do not provide the best of services, we all have options.
This is what we ask of the government – Give us options. Currently we have filling stations across the nation that alternate or tamper with their pumps to cheat Nigerians. We act oblivious but we know. We know that petrol worth N2000 in Filling station A is not the same in filling station B. We strongly advocate that the Federal government lays its hands off this sector, not a case of lightening their burden-even though it eventually will, but to improve our economy. Instead of beating around the bush over something that is obviously staring us in the face, perhaps, it is high time we piss in one spot so we can make some foam.