Stemming the tides of Nigeria’s ‘suffocating’ energy crisis

 

 

EnergyDay Editorial Board

 

The travails of the life of an average Nigerian citizen are becoming endless and the costs are no longer measured in monetary terms as public trust comes to the fore. This is the new critical issue of national concern as the country moves in and out of the cyclical energy crisis.

 

Life is becoming tougher for an average Nigerian and the cost of inefficiency by public officials, together with the distortions created by systemic corruption, especially within the energy sector, is on the upsurge and it is becoming very disturbing.

 

In less than two years to the expiration of President Muhammudu Buhari’s Administration , EnergyDay is forced to take stock because of the excruciating pain that every average citizen is complaining about.

 

EnergyDay is not talking about the next general election or the perennial false promises by those who administer the affairs of the nation, rather, we are talking about the weaning public trust.

 

We are concerned that this administration may have failed in taking decisive action on those issues, particularly energy, that paved the way for its emergence as a government that could be trusted by the people.

 

In the whole of 2021, the prices and availability of Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) also known as cooking gas, posed a critical challenge for the citizenry who have become accustomed to the use of gas as cleaner fuel.

 

The LPG crisis went on for several weeks and months and prices have remained higher than a mere average increase. Many reasons were suggested as being responsible for the sky-rocketing prices including the influence of international market price of LPG, the sharp activities of middlemen and political factors.

 

Key players along the entire LPG value chain including consumers share common sentiments on reasons militating against mass market production of LPG , which are largely bureaucratic , pointing out that, the product had increased by 240% for 12.5Kg cylinder size, moving up from N3000 in 2019 to N10,200 between Jan and October of 2021

 

However, the situation dramatically came to a halt when LPG price cascaded from almost N10,500 for 12.5kg in November 2021 to N7500 for 12.5kg between December 2021 and February 2022.

 

Now, barely had we gotten out of this experience, we were confronted with the news of contaminated petrol in circulation across the country, attributed to poor regulatory checks by the industry regulators.

 

This unfortunate crisis was notably one of the most scandalous experiences within the energy industry, and there was a deafening silence, before the regulatory agency discovered its own dereliction of duty.

 

It didn’t take too long for the media to discover that the national oil company, NNPC through its trading arm Duke oil and three other oil marketers, supplied a cargo of PMS purchased from an international trader called Litasco and delivered it with Motor Tanker, MT Nord Gainer which had 20 percent methanol content – this was a contravention in standards and the basis for the contamination.

 

The crisis lingered for months as queues persisted in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt , Kano and several other cities while Nigerians scrambled to get petrol for their vehicles and power their homes.

 

This is against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s assurance that it has sufficient stock of petroleum products for distribution across the country.

 

The PMS matter was later swept under the carpet because another distressful crisis took over public attention.

 

This time, it is the scarcity of JET A1 popularly known as aviation fuel which brought air transportation to a standstill.

 

A clear explanation could not be offered by stakeholders other than the usual tirade of blame passing and official concealment of transparent situation reports.

 

Questions are being asked but satisfactory answers are not forthcoming . Citizens are concerned about safety issues and those extraneous factors that could trigger unpleasant air travel occurrence.

 

EnergyDay’s investigation revealed that the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN) with the capacity to keep the industry running seamlessly , was allegedly relegated as underdogs in the JET A1 supply chain, with a token market share of about 8% while the relatively unknown but politically connected entrepreneurs are granted a field day . This is a high risk industry that should command stiff compliance at all levels.

 

While Nigerians were battling with this, another form of crisis caught up with the pump price of the Automotive Gas Oil ( Diesel). The price rose from N288 per litre in January 2022, to about N700 per litre in March, 2022, in some of the filling stations across the country.

 

The increase was attributed to the surge in global crude oil price due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis as well as depreciation of the Naira which was said to have pushed up the cost of importing the product.

 

EnergyDay however, discovered an artificial scheme involving volume buy-back of the product by unscrupulous traders with the intention to cause a spike in prices through scarcity.

 

The country’s Fuel Security System is almost non -existent as shocks quickly reverberate across the country each time, there is a slight operational hiccup as shown recently with the issue of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

 

At the centre of all of these , the Nigerian public are literally suffocating as business operators lament their frustration in maintaining productivity because of energy supply instability.

 

The agonizing thing about this energy crisis is the pains that it brings on the poor of the poor, the middle and lower classes.

 

Succinctly put, the entire experience is suffocating life (energy) out of the poor citizens.

 

The burden of the numerous energy crisis on citizens is becoming unbearable, and at EnergyDay, we want to accentuate the potential consequences, if timely intervention is taken for granted.

 

EnergyDay is of the opinion that the Federal Government should re-examine afresh , the role of the NNPC in exacerbating the decline in the country’s energy sector and more importantly, the national petroleum company should stop promoting and protecting selfish vested interests.

 

We urge all stakeholders to take this energy crisis seriously, while the government must collaborate with Nigerians who are sincerely concerned about averting further crisis within the energy sector.

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