The lingering fuel scarcity and hike in pump price have affected the provision of essential services across the country, reports from our correspondents have revealed.
Despite its scarcity, a litre is now sold for between N250 and N550 in most states in the country.
Daily Trust findings revealed that security agencies, especially the police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have reduced their patrols while emergency medical services are being affected as parents are forced to pay more for school buses, among others.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also raised an alarm that if the fuel scarcity, which started in the last quarter of 2022 is left unchecked, it might affect the transportation of electoral materials and officials during the 2023 polls. The presidential and National Assembly elections will be held in 16 days, on February 25.
- Wedding turns bloody, as ‘soldiers’ kill 24-year-old mechanic in Kaduna
- Naira scarcity: Police uncovers plot to destabilise Lagos
While Nigerians endure long queues daily and are forced to pay as high as N550 per litre for Petrol Motor Spirit (PMS) in some areas, the effects of fuel scarcity are biting harder on essential service providers.
A situation described as a threat to national security by public affairs analysts and concerned Nigerians.
Police reduce patrols, distress calls unattended to as NCS struggle to take inmates to court
It is no longer strange to find ambulances, school buses and even police vehicles on fuel queues across major cities in the country.
Daily Trust learnt that the non-availability of PMS is hampering the ability of security agencies, especially the police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, to swiftly respond to distress calls from residents.
Cases are also being adjourned over the inability of officials of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) to transport suspects and inmates to courts.
Landlords and residents at Oda, Ijoka, Oba Ile, Shagari, Oluwatuyi, and A’ule roads in Ondo State told our reporter that the fuel scarcity has heightened insecurity amid a poor supply of electricity to the state.
A landlord at Oba Ile, Titiloye Adedayo complained that; “Here, the police are now giving us excuses that their vehicle has no fuel to help us investigate a crime that occurred in the street a few days ago.
“It is now getting worse and you can see how the scarcity (fuel) has been affecting all sectors including the security of lives and properties.”
Another resident, Mrs Biola Oyewunmi complained that the police officers who usually patrol some business areas along Benin garage at night no longer show up.
A resident of Ijoka, Mrs Bimbe Oriola, said the non-availability of the product, which has led to the inability of residents to power their generating sets, has also thrown the community into darkness which is a security threat on its own.
While acknowledging the disruption posed by the fuel scarcity, a police officer at the A Division in Akure, confided in Daily Trust that some major filling stations are assisting them in getting the product.
A manager in one of the petrol stations, however, explained that some police officers are in the habit of “abusing the opportunity” anytime they want to get fuel.
“We do attend to them but it seems they’re now abusing the opportunity. You would see them bringing in private cars along with the patrol vehicles,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Ondo State, SP Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, in a telephone chat, said despite the fuel scarcity, security agents are still patrolling the state in line with their duty of protecting lives and properties.
“Fuel scarcity is a general issue as you are aware but we are overcoming the challenges. At least, you can see our men on the road still performing their duty and patrolling the nooks and crannies of the state,” she said.
The Public Relations Officer, NSCDC in Ekiti, Mr. Tolu Afolabi, who acknowledged the challenges caused by fuel scarcity, said the state Commandant, John Fayemi, has directed its Anti-Vandal team to go all out to make sure that normalcy return, especially in filling stations and other supporting services aimed at ameliorating the current challenges.
An official of the NCS in Lagos, who confided in Daily Trust that the service is having challenges presenting suspects in courts, said it is also unsafe to transport inmates in gridlock caused by fuel queues.
The PRO, NCS, Ekiti Command, Mr. Babalola Foluso, confirmed that the current fuel situation has greatly affected their service, mostly, taking inmates to court for trial.
Foluso added that staff of the service are also battling with the high cost of transport fares to make it to the office.
Kaduna, Kano patients missing appointments with doctors, businesses stalled
Dr Ibrahim Musa Ibrahim, a medical doctor working with a private hospital said his hospital uses solar to fuel its generator.
He also lamented that most of the patients are facing challenges coming for treatment.
Haruna Suleiman, a health insurance officer in Kaduna, also frowned at the lingering fuel scarcity, saying patients who are mostly their clients are groaning over the situation.
He said most patients get stressed up before getting to the hospital, especially those without personal vehicles.
A police officer at Kaduna Millennium City told Daily Trust that despite the fuel scarcity, which affected their operations they still move around the community.
According to him, they usually get favours in some of the filling stations around the area to ease their movement.
In Kano State, fuel scarcity has continued to jeopardise businesses and emergencies.
Some filling stations were seen selling petrol for over N350 per litre; while there were long queues at the few ones selling at the official price.
Hospital staff, including security officers, said the situation was forcing them to get to their workplaces late.
A medical worker in Kano State, Amina Auwal, said: “Our hospital is experiencing difficulties. Patients and their relatives are finding it difficult to come on time or get money to pay for services. A pregnant woman died as a result of the situation.”
Hospitals, ambulances battle fuel scarcity
Daily Trust gathered that private hospitals have raised the cost of their services in a bid to meet up with the cost of buying fuel.
Some of the private clinics in Port Harcourt visited by one of our reporters said that they spent so much money to fuel their generator sets.
Some patients who cannot afford the cost of high medical bills have resorted to patronising local herbs and roadside drug vendors to take care of their medical needs.
A resident of Oyigbo, Peter Okanma, said it is becoming very difficult to seek medical help in both private and government-owned hospitals.
Another resident, Okechukwu Umesa, said that the cost of paying a high medical bill has forced him and his family to resort to self-medication.
While acknowledging that it has not been easy to power their generator set, the management of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, said not minding the high cost of fuel, it maintains quality service delivery to the people.
A young man, Adedamola Opeyimika, who recently contracted a funeral service home to transport the remains of his father from Lagos to Ogun State for burial, lamented that they had to stop on the Lagos- Abeokuta Expressway twice to get fuel from hawkers.
“It was shameful that a country that couldn’t provide my father with good medical services also denied him the opportunity to go home with joy. Imagine, parking on the road with the casket inside the vehicle to buy fuel from the black market,” he said.
Students trek, stay at home as schools hike bus services
School activities have been hampered by the hike in fuel price despite its scarcity. Some students and pupils who cannot trek to school have been forced to sometimes stay at home as the school bus service has been greatly affected.
Daily Trust learnt that while some schools have suspended bus services, others have either hiked the price or devised means of getting fuel at exorbitant rates and unconventional ways.
The Transport Manager of Lariken International College, Ologuneru, Ibadan, Oyedepo Samuel, noted that the school buses get fuel at odd hours.
The Assistant Headmistress of Caritas Primary School, Mrs Ojediran, said the school is going through a lot of sacrifices to be able to render service to her pupils. She noted that the school bus drivers get 70 litres of fuel weekly at the rate of 350/litre.
Mrs. Oyebamiji Oluranti of Adura Group of School, Ona Ara area, Ibadan, noted that pupils now come late to school while some stay at home. She noted that despite buying a litre at N370, the bus driver still had to endure long queues and in some instances, without getting the product.
It’s a threat to national security – Analysts
Lagos-based public policy analyst, Nelson Ekujumi, lamented that the disruption to essential services is a threat to national security.
“The fears are very real. It is a threat to national security because if the ordinary man cannot access fuel from filling stations, where do you expect essential service providers to get it from? We are calling on the authorities involved to do all that is needed to address it. It is not irredeemable but we continue to dance in a circle.
“Unfortunately, when it escalates, we start looking for solutions. These things have happened repeatedly, what sort of people are we that we seem not to learn from history? The threat to national security is very real, we should do the right thing before it explodes,” he warned.
Executive Director, Development Specs Academy, Prof Okey Ikechukwu, called for immediate action from the authorities, noting that such disruptions would have lasting effects on the country.
The leadership and governance consultant urged the government to give priority to essential service providers while making available allowances to ameliorate the disruptions caused by the hike in pump price.
From Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Tosin Tope (Akure), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), Kaffi Adenike (Ibadan), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna) & Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano)