There is no respite in sight for Nigerians as the fuel crisis, which began in November 2017, continued on Thursday.
Most filling stations were out of fuel despite claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, that it increased its allocations to meet growing demands.
For instance, NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, told PREMIUM TIMES despite increasing the allocation to Abuja from 100 trucks of petrol to 140, it was surprising that most filling stations in the FCT still do not have enough fuel for their customers.
Apart from the NNPC mega filling station in the Central Business District and a few others in the outskirts of the city, PREMIUM TIMES observed on Thursday that several other filling stations did not have products.
One angry independent marketer who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday accused the NNPC of insincerity, saying its claim of increased supply to Abuja and other places was not true.
"The NNPC has to be truthful to itself first if the solution to the current petrol supply crisis is to be found.
"Claims of increased supply of petrol to Abuja or Lagos is a blatant lie. If 140 trucks of petrol get into Abuja as NNPC claims, why are we still having scarcity for several weeks?" the marketer asked. He requested that his name should not be revealed because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
He criticised NNPC's continued to focus on Abuja and Lagos in its petrol supply activities to the neglect of other parts of the country.
"Abuja and Lagos are not the entire country. This is the only places where petrol is sold for the approved price of N145 per litre. For a long time consumers in every other place buy petrol at N200 per litre and above," he said.
On Thursday, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibeh Kachikwu, directed the NNPC to resolve the crisis by Sunday.
NBS says Nigerians paying high price
The National Bureau of Statistics in its latest Petrol Price Watch report for January 2018 said consumers paid over 31 per cent more for the commodity during the month.
The statistics agency said average price for petrol during the month across the 36 states and the FCT was about N190.90 per litre against the retail pump price of N145 per litre approved by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
Compared with about N171.8 per litre paid in December, 2017, the bureau said the average price of N190.9 per litre is about 11.12 per cent higher.
The price is about 28.4 per cent increase from about N148.7 per litre recorded in the corresponding month of January 2017.
Details of the report showed that petrol consumers in Osun state paid the highest price of about N229 per litre in January 2018, followed by Abia with about N227.5 per litre and Benue state (about N223.3 per litre).
However, the report said consumers in Kogi state were paying the lowest average price of N152.83 per litre, followed by Gombe (about N157.73) and Zamfara N159.
On the other hand, consumers in the South East geopolitical zone paid the highest price of N203.17 per litre for petrol, with South-South paying N197.32 per litre and South West N195.39.
Their counterparts in the North West paid N193.42 per litre, while those in the North East paid about N172.5 and North Central N185.83.
No firm idea on solutions
At the heat of the crisis, the federal Government had constituted a committee to review the fuel scarcity and proffer solutions against future recurrence.
The committee headed by Mr. Kachikwu, consisted key players in the downstream sector of country's oil and gas industry.
They included the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru; Director General of the State Security Service, SSS, Lawal Daura; Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, DAPMAN, Dapo Abiodun.
Others included President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Chinedo Okonkwo, and representative of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore.
However, weeks after the committee submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari, PREMIUM TIMES learnt on Wednesday no further action has been taken on the recommendations.
One marketer told PREMIUM TIMES some of the proposals submitted to government included a holistic deregulation of the downstream sector to break NNPC's monopoly as the sole supplier of petrol in the country.
The other proposal was for government to consider building a refinery to end importation of petrol.
In the alternative, he said a proposal for the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to give marketers foreign exchange at a rate that would allow them import products and still sell at N145 per litre was opposed by the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
In Kaduna, the fuel supply situation has not been different from the harrowing experience in other parts of the country.
Most filling stations our reporter visited, especially within the metropolis, were not open for business, because they have been out of stock of fuel over the last one week.
The Mobil filling station along Muhammadu Buhari way had a long queue of motorists outside its gates on Sunday evening as its price was unchanged at N145 per litre.
The difficulty in getting petrol in town has forced motorists to adopt a system that allows them visit the filling station once or twice every week.
At Oando filling station at Kawo, petrol was selling normally N145 per litre, same as in Nipco at Sabon Birnin road, although there were long queues.
Along Nnamdi Azikwe expressway and Zaria road, few filling stations were virtually empty with few cars waiting to buy fuel.
Most of the streets are flooded by black market operators who sell petrol at between N195 and N210 per litre to motorists who cannot wait on the queues at the filling stations.
In Plateau, apart from scarcity of products, regulation of the activities of fuel marketers poses even greater challenge to the authorities.
The Plateau state branch the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Abdurahama Ajeigbe, said 15 filling stations were sanctioned for selling petrol above government approve pump price of N145 per litre.
Mr. Ajeigbe said in Jos the defaulting filling stations were not only forced to reverse their price to N145 per litre, but were also fined N100,000 each per pump selling at the time of DPR visit.
On why the agency did not seal the defaulting filling stations, Mr. Ajeigbe said doing so would be compounding the scarcity problem.
He said the agency had to force the affected filling stations, most of which were selling petrol at N170 per litre to revert to N145.
Mr. Ajeigbe attributed the fuel scarcity in Jos to inadequate supply of the commodity to Plateau state.
Meanwhile, in spite of DPR efforts, residents of Jos have continued to buy petrol at N200 per litre.
Only a few petrol filling stations are dispensing fuel at government approved price within the state capital, Jos
In Maiduguri, residents continue to groan in pain against worsening fuel scarcity.
PREMIUM TIMES correspondent say life is increasingly becoming very difficult for residents of Maiduguri, as the impact of fuel scarcity continues to bite harder.
Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol now sells for between N220 and N210 per litre.
Early last week, petrol was sold for N195 per litre before the price was raised before weekend.
Residents still have to queue at some of the few filling stations to get fuel.
DPR Personnel said they had to seal off some filling stations for dispensing at the unofficial pump price; an action which many users of fuel said was a mere cosmetic approach to tackling the problem.
"The situation is becoming worse every day," said Musa Adamu, a driver.
"There seems to be no much difference between the fuel sold by the road side vendors and the filling stations. I just bought at N220 per litre today," he said.
The DPR seems to turn blind eyes to some of the filling stations selling above pump price.
"If the DPR is truly monitoring the sales of fuel. These marketers won't be so bold as to selling at such outrageous price", noted Mr. Adamu.
The fuel scarcity situation has affected virtually economic activities in the state.
PREMIUM TIMES observed how the fuel scarcity has impacted negatively on the economic life of the residents. The cost of transportation has increased drastically as residents bemoan attendant increase in prices of commodities.
"The fare for intercity taxis per standard drop is N30, but a Keke-NAPEP (tricycle cab) fare per drop is now N50", Madam Becky, a restauranteur.
Taxi drivers charge extra N500 upon the normal fare from Maiduguri to neighbouring towns, or they take extra passengers to make up for the high cost of fuel.
In Dutse, petrol scarcity is hitting harder on residents who urged the Federal Government to take decisive measures to restore normalcy in the supply of the product to the State.
Our correspondent who went round the filling stations in Jigawa state capital, reported that over the last six weeks only the NNPC mega filling Station was dispensing petroleum for, only today Tuesday Matrix filing stations now offloading products
Some motorists who spoke with our correspondent on Tuesday attributing the scarcity noted that the scarcity in Jigawa to activities of economic saboteurs, who divert consignments meant for the state to other places for profit.
One of the motorists, Dahiru Umar, said: "residents, especially the poor, are exposed to difficulties in sourcing for the product.
"The government needs to adopt measures to check petrol scarcity in the state. Such measures are necessary to address this lingering problem once and for all."
An activist with center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Ali Sabo, said almost everything is affected by the fuel scarcity across the country.
"So the Federal government and other parties concerned should do everything possible within their powers to bring an end to this unnecessary hardship we are experiencing.
In Uyo, petrol dealers in Akwa Ibom seem to have to an understanding to sell fuel at a common price, as most of the fillings stations within Uyo and its environs are selling petrol at N190 per litre.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited Petrosen, Matsgal and other stations along Oron Road, Uyo, on Tuesday, petrol was being sold at N190.
At Nossien filling station, also at Oron Road, fuel was being sold at N185 per litre, while Rainoil was selling for N170 per litre at its filling station along Abak Road in Uyo.
At the NNPC Mega station near Itam flyover, there was the usual long queue as petrol was sold at official price of N145 per litre.