The sole supplier of petroleum products in the country- the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has failed in delivering its promise of making petrol available during the month December. On Monday September 19th, in Abuja before the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on fuel subsidy regime, the Chief Financial Officer, NNPC, Umar Ajia announced that the corporation had extended the “contract of Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) for six months in order to boost petrol availability in December and early 2023 to take care of the election season. The below excerpt by Ajia, was to assure millions of Nigerians of the availability of fuel as against the usual fuel scarcity encountered during the month of December each year to usher in the festive period.
”The DSDP contract, in reality ended in August and it is a very dangerous period to begin to re-tender for that because we are facing the winter, these are the difficult ’ember months’ that we normally avoid fuel scarcity. You know the scarcity in Nigeria is really associated with the Christmas period so if you now tender, the tendering process will take one or two months. So, what the board approved is to extend the contract for six months such that we will have passed the winter and the elections periods, otherwise we could have problems during election”
This pledge by the CFO, NNPC is a betrayal to what Nigerians are experiencing for over a week now at the different petrol stations across the country especially those situated in major cities. There is gridlock at the stations. Nigerians are spending precious time that could have been used for more meaningful things at the filling stations. Petrol stations have become their bedroom having passed several nights just to get the petrol for their needs. The streets are littered with black market sellers, selling the commodity at exorbitant cost than the regulated prices. More and more people are venturing into the business of black market; it’s a booming business at the moment because a liter can sell as expensive as 500 hundred Naira. Nigerians are spending more in purchasing fuel to run their vehicles, homes and offices. Transportation costs have surged and salary earners are spending a chunk of their monthly meager money to go to work and return home. These scenarios are not peculiar to this time; it’s been a common experience for Nigerians – so it’s no longer news that the citizens of the largest producer of crude oil in Africa and sixth largest exporter of crude oil globally; still gnanish their teeth to derive satisfaction from what her nation uses in sustaining its revenue generation. It’s a status quo. Recall that in the month of October, Nigerians experienced a two weeks fuel scarcity that scorched Nigeria as usual. We are accustomed to blame the lack of refineries as a capital sin hitch in the availability of fuels, but other factors still rear their heads to sustain the refined petroleum imports. With the high exchange rate, it’s obvious Nigeria may be paying double of what it used to import, a particular quantity of fuel. Thus, we may not single- handedly lay claim to a factor because the issue is interwoven in all the sicknesses that befall Nigeria. Perhaps that is why the antidote of trusting on the extension of the contract of Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) by NNPC failed. If DSDP played their part, how about the high exchange rate, the logistics chain hampered by bad roads, theft and insincerities of some officials because the crux of the matter is not that there is no refined petrol but its unavailability . This is because if there is no petrol, the black market sellers would not have any petrol in their jars.
The lesson from this 2022 December petrol unavailability is that the government may never wear a new skin and begin to deliver on their promises. They have for a long time continued to wear the same old skin- failures and unfulfilled