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Business News of Wednesday, 26 January 2022


Long fuel queues in Abuja despite govt subsidy reversal

The queues started Tuesday morning The queues started Tuesday morning

Fuel queues returned to filling stations in Abuja on Wednesday despite the federal government’s assurance that it will no longer remove fuel subsidy this year as it earlier planned.

The queues started Tuesday morning and continued through Wednesday. Many filling stations in Jabi, Wuse and Lugbe areas of the city sold the product at prices ranging from N162 to N165.

Black marketers were also seen hawking the product in jerry cans to interested motorists and other consumers along Lugbe and Kubuwa axis.

In November 2021, the federal government announced its plan to remove fuel subsidy and replace it with a monthly N5000 transport grant to poor Nigerians.

The Nigeria Labour Congress in response fixed January 27 and February 2 for protests across 36 states against the subsidy removal.

The government through the Minister of Finance on Monday announced a reversal of its plan to remove subsidy.

The government said it will retain fuel subsidy indefinitely and will work on amending the 2022 budget to provide funds for that purpose.

According to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the Nigerian government realised the timing of its planned removal of petrol subsidy is “problematic”, and will worsen the suffering of Nigerians.

On Tuesday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced it had suspended its proposed nationwide protest action over petrol subsidy removal.

A PREMIUM TIMES correspondent who visited petrol stations Wednesday afternoon found that some filling stations were shut against buyers.

“When I came out today to work I noticed there were huge queues at petrol stations because the government wanted to remove fuel subsidy,” a taxi driver, Ajayi Nurudeen, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“I started noticing the queue yesterday but it became more today. I have been on this queue for some time now.”

When told that the government has retained fuel subsidy, Mr Nurudeen said “You can’t trust the government, maybe they are trying to surprise us without our knowledge.

“Don’t be surprised that you will wake up one day and see that they have removed the subsidy,” he said.

At Saddi Kamal filling station along Lugbe, Airport Road, there was a huge crowd at the station Wednesday afternoon, as motorists struggled to buy petrol.

Muhammad Abdulkadir, a taxi driver who was at the station, said “The fuel queue is affecting everybody, I don’t know what is the problem, there was no information that they increased the pump price.

“We only heard from the federal government that they have suspended the removal of the fuel subsidy.

“But it is like the marketers are not happy with the federal government. It looks as if they want to sell the fuel at the rate of that three hundred and something naira.

“So, I suspect that they are hoarding the fuel to sell it at the rate of three hundred and something naira in February. So I believe that’s what causes the fuel queue.

“It is affecting me seriously because I have been in this queue for more than an hour just to get fuel. I am a taxi driver and I am supposed to be at work now, he lamented.

“As you can see the price remains unchanged at N165 here and this is exactly what many fuel stations are selling, but there is panic buying,” a civil servant at the station who identified himself as Augustine said.

A long queue was seen at Total filling station in Wuse zone 1.

“The recent queue build-up we have been seeing is major as a result of panic buying and is not far from the federal government’s resolve before now that they are going to remove fuel subsidy and we all know the impact of that,” an official at the station, who refused to give her name said.

“It will lead to an increase in the price of fuel so people began to buy believing that by the time they buy enough at least to save extra cash.

“But the good thing is the federal government has reversed that decision so any time from today, everything will be fine,” she said.

Another official who refused to give his name at Obatoil filling station at Wuse zone 1 said, “You can see that the tanker over there just delivers and we are selling it.

“We are selling at the normal price of N165 and we are not increasing anything.

“We Nigerians are the ones treating ourselves badly. Some fuel stations are beginning to hoard petroleum,” he said.

A long queue was also seen at Nipco and A. A. Rano filling stations in Jabi and Major oil Limited airport junction.

Total and Conoil in Jabi were opened but the stations were not selling the product, while Shema, Dan oil along Lugbe airport road, Fort oil and Oando in Jabi were under lock and key.

Some hawkers were spotted in front of the Nipco filling station, at Jabi and Major oil Limited airport junction selling the product in 10-litre jerry cans for N3,000 – N3,500 to motorists, who could not stay in queues at the filling station.

Adam Peters, a civil servant said: “People are panic buying because we believe that there will be an increase and haven’t explained to the people by the federal government that there will be no more removal of subsidy.

“Yet, people won’t still believe and this might lead to an increase in the prices of fuel but I hope this queue will subside in subsequent time.”

A car owner, Emmanuel Alabi, who also confirmed that there was panic buying said some filling stations were hoarding the product.

“I drove about 30 to 40 minutes around Abuja trying to get fuel and all the filling stations I went to are locked up while there are queues in some.

“There is a lot of hoarding in the city, I can tell you it is hard to get fuel even with your money. I don’t know what is going on,” he said.

In Kubwa area of the city, there was panic buying also as motorists plugged up filling stations.

Also, this reporter observed long queues at Optima filling station by the federal medical center in Jabi.

A cab driver, who gave his name as Moses, blamed the government for the recent queue.

He said “I must tell you that this recent queue was caused by the government announcement of removing fuel subsidy and this has inflicted hardship on the citizens.

“Some fuel stations are now hoarding fuel even after the government announcement of not removing subsidy again,” he said.

Another motorist, Segun Ojo, said “It has become a burden too much to bear.”

He urged the government to urgently come out and address the problem.

“People are suffering. We heard that the government is no longer removing subsidy but this queue is unbearable,” he said.

A car owner, Oladele Martin, said “I observe that filling stations are hoarding the products. This should not be encouraged, they are unjustly making life difficult for the people.”

NNPC REACTSThe NNPC in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Garba Deen Muhammad, on Wednesday evening has cautioned sellers and buyers against hoarding and panic-buying.

The corporation said it has sufficient petr stock to meet the needs of Nigerians.

NNPC in a statement said, “Please do not panic, NNPC Ltd wishes to assure the public that the Company has sufficient PMS stock to meet the needs of Nigerians.

“The public is therefore advised not to engage in panic buying of petrol and to ignore all rumours that may suggest otherwise.

“In line with the existing laws of the land, NNPC Ltd is deeply committed to ensuring energy security for the country,” it said.