It started like a child’s play in December, one week to Christmas celebration. Many had thought it was going to linger but it stopped in the week of Christmas hence the transport fare was within the reach of travelers.
Some even thought that the fuel scarcity was going to resurface immediately after the festive period but it didn’t until towards the end of January. Initially, it wasn’t serious but gradually snowballed into serious scarcity that at a point, it was as if life was going out of some people.
That same period, the electricity situation in the country became worst when the national grids were said to have collapsed entirely. The sun was scorchy in the day and weather was hot in the night hence making it very difficult for people to sleep comfortably at night.
Children especially the newly-born babies were the worst hit and this forced some people to settle for black market (fuel hawked by people by the roadside). And because of the high demand, the boys who were jobless and were constituting nuisance in the society before then, hike the price of fuel from N3000 to N7000 and N8000 per 10 litres, what ordinarily would have cost N1650.
Those who cannot afford it especially on daily basis adopted the tactic of sleeping at filling stations. Information has it that most filling stations only sell fuel in the midnight to fuel hawkers for as high as N250 and N300 per litre hence the reason why black market is as high as N7000 and N8000 for 10 litres.
In the day, only few filling stations like A.A. Rano, NIPCO, Oando sell to motorists all day especially when they have the products while others only sell for between two and three hours and lock up only to resume in the midnight to sell to relatives, friends and black marketers.
The most affected are the people buying fuel into jerry cans for their generators. They were denied access because the filling station owners felt that they were reselling them. Many businesses suffered during the period in review because some were forced to patronize black marketers hence having little or no revenue to take home after the day’s business.
Those who could not afford to buy black market closed shops and settle for something else to do. And those on salary were also made to pay more for transportation fare or they forfeit their jobs.
During the scarcity, only those with generators were able to buy fuel from filling stations while those who came with only the tank of the generators because of their inability to carry it were denied.
However, the regular buyers of fuel during the scarcity are the Okada riders (Motorcyclists) and Keke NAPEP riders (tricyclists). They empty their tanks after buying and sell to black marketers hence they are always visible in most filling stations.
Unlike cars, they can easily empty their tanks into jerry cans and return to queue at the stations. Some of them abandoned their transportation businesses for the business which was giving them more money.
Meanwhile, the scarcity was an eye-opener to most people because those who are friends to fuel stations managers and attendants never had fuel shortage. A phone call is just what they need to be allowed to follow the exit gate into the stations.
During the scarcity also, uniform men took over most of the fuel stations. It is either you sell for them or nobody buys. Even those who were not on duty wore their uniforms in order to get fuel. At some fuel stations, one will mistaken the place for the military or police fuel dump.
However, the annoying aspect is that some uniform men became agents to people who want to buy fuel. They even drive the vehicles of such persons into the filling stations before handing over to the owners.
During the scarcity, the men of the NSCDC stole the show and they went round arresting people with fuel in jerry cans but not the hawkers who confidently sell fuel by the roadside.
However, the story seems to have changed now as the queue at filling stations have disappeared but fuel attendants are still refusing to sell fuel into jerry cans for those using generators. Incidentally, the scarcity which many have predicted to last for a long time disappeared during the All Progressive Congress, APC convention in Abuja.
The joy of many Nigerians is that throughout the period of scarcity when people were storing fuel at home and other places, there was no incident of fire outbreak anywhere. If it had, it would have consumed many including filling stations because many people were involved in the business especially those that were unemployed.