On the 3rd of January, 2023, President Buhari made a promise of assisting Burundi with fuel. The statement comes amidst a fuel scarcity in Nigeria which has lasted since November.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President stated
“…On request for assistance in the area of energy provision, particularly fuel, by the Burundi leader, President Buhari said he knows what it feels like for a country to suffer from energy shortage, and promised that he would get the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to look into the request.”
The President spoke while receiving the Special Envoy of President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Budget, and Economic Planning, Hon. Audace Niyonzima. The Burundian leader sent a goodwill message concerning Nigeria’s upcoming elections as well as requested assistance in the area of energy provision. In response, President Buhari promised that the NNPC would look into the request for fuel assistance.
This promise comes against the backdrop of Nigeria suffering one of its longest fuel scarcities in history, which has lasted since the third quarter of 2022. The current fuel scarcity comes after a nationwide fuel scarcity that lasted between February and March 2022. With inflation surging to a 17-year high of 21.07% in October 2022, the fuel crisis has further compounded the woes of Nigerians as the country is on the verge of heading into a cost of living crisis.
In reaction to the official press release from the Presidency, many Nigerians have expressed skepticism about Nigeria’s ability to supply fuel to another country. Some of the reactions on Twitter included
Cause of Fuel Scarcity
in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Operations Controller of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), attributed the fuel scarcity to the unavailability of petroleum products and the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange by petroleum marketers. However, the National Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) earlier blamed the fuel scarcity in Abuja and other states on the flooding situation that plagued Lokoja which prevented fuel trucks from hitting the road.
From another perspective, the NNPC blamed the fuel scarcity on the different construction projects across the country that had caused the diversion of fuel trucks in places like Lagos. IPMAN also once blamed the scarcity on the vandalization of NNPC depots across Lagos.
While the cause of the scarcity is undefined, its effect is not as Nigerians have had to grapple with an increased cost of transportation and overall increased cost of goods, especially during the festive period. For many Nigerians, they had to spend more on interstate transportation during the festive period, with bus fares from Lagos to Port Harcourt being hiked to as high as N30,000, and Lagos to Abuja bus fares going as high as N18,000. As we wait for the official NBS inflation figures, it’s safe to say, we witnessed a new high in inflation in Q4 2022.
Way Forward for Nigeria
For many Nigerians both in the private and public sector, a lot of hope has been invested in the 650,000 BPD Dangote refinery due to commence operation in Q1 2023. For the government, there’s hope that the refinery will help the CBN save foreign exchange used in importing petroleum products every year. And for the private citizens, there’s hope that the refinery will forestall any future fuel scarcity.
Additionally, Nigeria’s efforts to become an energy-independent nation could also be enhanced by the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery, which is due to be completed by the first quarter of 2023.