People & Money

“I Would Rather Buy Fuel at the Market Price Than Queue for Subsidized fuel”: Six Nigerians on Fuel Subsidy Removal 

The Federal Government has announced that it will stop making payments for fuel subsidy June 2023. This is coming after the Buhari-led administration has made announcements for fuel subsidy removal four times since 2015. It’s a known fact that fuel prices would increase with the removal of subsidies. With a few months to the implementation of this policy, the nation has been plunged into a fuel scarcity crisis. It seems clear that with Nigeria’s dismal finances, the NNPC can no longer guarantee a steady supply of fuel at subsidized prices. Nigerians regard the fuel subsidy as something akin to a national birthright. Would Nigerians prefer trouble-free access to petrol at higher, subsidy-free prices? Or do they prefer the current situation of scarcity and subsidy? We spoke to six people to feel the pulse of the nation on this important question. 

Oreoluwa Olayinka (28)- Sales Executive 

I am a 9-5 worker, I cannot limit my productivity to waiting in a never-ending queue to buy fuel. Would I be compensated when my salary is slashed for lateness

Personally, I don’t have a car of my own.  But I must use fuel throughout the week because electricity isn’t always available. I typically buy fuel for my home generator about 3-5 times a week.  Recently, with the scarcity, I have had to get more fuel.

It’s so stressful to get fuel; sometimes, I have to go hours away from my area. It’s so bad that sometimes I can get a phone call from my friend saying, “oh… there’s fuel in this place,” and the place may be somewhere farther.  So, I would have to take transport to get fuel. Imagine how bizarre that is.

The worst part is the crowd when I get to the fuel station; people pushing each other, fighting, cursing and trying all sorts of maneuvers in the queue.  Let’s not even talk about the pressing issue of getting cash and how it also extends the time to get fuel. 

Sometimes, when I get to the fuel station and see the queue,  I decide to buy from the black market instead because I don’t intend to spend my whole day in a queue. I work, and I have to be productive to earn. Though buying from the black market saves time, it gives little quantity for a higher price, which is sad. Why would I buy 5 liters for N2,000:00? But what can I do? I have work to get to and I have to stay productive. Sometimes I get to work late, and this can be as a result of the public bus stopping to join the long queues to buy fuel and in turn, making me run late to work.

I ask myself, “Why can’t these oil companies that embezzle money and sell mostly during the scarcity just to rip us off just take pity on the people and stop hoarding this fuel? Though the black market is annoying, I would rather buy from them than stay in a long queue because I don’t want my business to be affected. 

Also Read: NNPC Says No Cause for Alarm Over fuel queues In Abuja

I think if there’s at least a steady supply of electricity in the country, then the effects of fuel subsidy removal would be minimal. Buying of fuel would now be for vehicle owners, and this would reduce the demand for fuel. This is where I would love the next president to start.

Adaeze Okoye (35)- Senior HR

It’s appalling that it takes about 6 hours to get fuel. How long is a flight from Lagos to the UK?….

I go to work every day, so I use fuel for my car daily. I buy fuel at least 3 times a week now compared to months back when I could rely on a full tank to take me for a week.

It takes approximately 2-3 hours for my driver to get fuel. To crown it all, last week, when I got to my workplace, I sent my driver to buy fuel from the fuel station. This left around 9 am and returned by 3 pm, complaining about the long queue.  Isn’t it outrageous that it takes about 6 hours just to get a basic amenity in the country? It’s appalling, to say the least. 

No one wouldn’t complain about the queue. Whether you’re driving or standing, it affects you. It would disrupt your daily activities and hinder productivity because, as Tems said, time is of the essence.

I don’t get affected most times because my driver is the one who goes out to buy the fuel. But what about people that drive themselves?

Some people would rather buy from the black market, but I just can’t because I don’t trust the quality. Besides, I’m not ready for the damage it might bring to my car or generator, so the black market is not an option. 

Instead of the fuel subsidy policy, the government should ensure a stable fuel price. That way, we can easily get fuel with the knowledge that what we’re paying is the standard fuel price. I would rather buy fuel at the market price than queue for subsidized fuel. It’s the election period now, and I can only hope it gets better with a new efficient, and reliable system for Nigerians. 

Gladys Chijioke (61)- Business Woman 

This has been bad for my business. Why subsidize fuel and make my days useless trying to get fuel to run my business?

Five good times in a week, that’s how many days I have to buy fuel. That’s almost every day because of the consumption and high rate of demand, and I’m expected to be happy about the country.

It’s bad enough that I have to buy fuel every day, but what makes it worse is the time I spend trying to buy it. It takes my whole day. My everyday experience with buying fuel has been horrible. The fuel is not accessible. Let’s start with the long queues, the scorching sun while struggling to buy, the scarcity of cash, and the stress; it is a lot to deal with. 

I would have said the black market is better, but the last time I bought from them was years ago, and I don’t think I want to do that again. Fuel adulteration is a problem I have with black market sellers, so they’re unreliable. Therefore, regardless of the time I spend at the filling station, I still get late to my business, which stresses me out daily. However, I prefer to wait in the queue and get adulterated fuel for a ridiculously high amount.

I blame the government for this situation because they know what to do but only want the resources circulating around them. I don’t understand why as a nation, we keep borrowing when we have these natural resources to utilize because I would rather buy fuel at the market price than queue and stress for subsidized fuel. 

I hope the next president takes better charge of the country, stops the fuel price hike and subsidy, and makes fuel more accessible to everyone.  

 Prince Ugonna (22)- Student

It almost seems like things from years back are better than now, and that doesn’t define growth to me.“ 

An adequate electricity supply is a major shortcoming we face in the country. So, we turn to fuel and generator usage to generate power to carry out our basic tasks and to live effectively. When this secondary power supply becomes the primary usage source, one can tell it will be needed every day. At home, we use fuel daily, especially at night when there’s no power supply and for our cars.

I feel a lot of empathy towards our security staff because his experience whenever he goes to buy fuel isn’t encouraging. He helps us get fuel as my parents go to work and I go to school. I ask myself where we are going as a country. 

Sometimes he may leave to get fuel before I leave for school. Two hours later, when I’m on my way to school and pass the station, I would still see him in a long queue for fuel. The sun is already too hot for me, who is just commuting to school and walking for a short distance. How about him? He complains about the staff and how rude they can be, collecting bribes from people who want to skip the queue, and people fighting and slandering themselves with insults. These are strangers, mind you. I keep wondering, is this the better Nigeria we were promised? This takes a huge toll on the mental state of Nigerians.

I see the black market traders, some of their kiosks just outside the filling station when I go to buy fuel. Whenever I’m tempted to buy, I tell myself I don’t want to risk buying adulterated fuel at a more expensive price that I would regret in the future.

There was this time I thought I wouldn’t spend more than 2 to 3 hours in the filling station so I could catch up with an evening class. I ended up staying for 5 hours and inevitably missing my class and a test. That was a horrible experience because it was a spontaneous test by the lecturer that I wouldn’t have missed if I hadn’t been at the filling station.

The government can’t keep borrowing to sustain Nigeria when we have numerous natural resources. I still find it difficult to understand why Nigeria finds it hard to exploit and utilize her natural resources so that we would be exporters instead of importers. Maybe it’s the fact that the rich want to continue getting richer and take advantage of their subordinates. 

Personally, it would be better to buy at a stipulated price than the subsidized rate with the never-ending queues. It’s terrible when demand is more than supply because that’s when scarcity comes in. We should operate in an equilibrium system or at least in excess supply.

I would say this to my future president: please do better. Your manifesto is a promise to your people, us, so please uphold it. We elected you to do better for us, your people and not for your circle alone. 

Also Read: The UK Is Considering Extending Work Hours For Foreign Students.

Anita Ajoke Funmilayo (49)- Manager

I do not find black market fuels safe, so I would rather queue, than be sorry…

I use fuel daily; how often depends on where I’m going. If it’s just to and from my office to home, the fuel in my car could last for 10 days.  In this case, I don’t need to buy fuel that often. But if I have other business to attend to, that means more frequent use of fuel and more frequent weekly purchases.

It takes me up to an hour to buy fuel, and I don’t have any experience because I don’t get the fuel myself. My driver does when he needs to, knowing that I wouldn’t have to move around when he goes to purchase. 

I’ve never been one to buy from the black market, so that is an option that has never crossed my mind. I do not find it safe.

My experience is different from most people’s as I haven’t had my productivity hindered as a result of queuing to buy fuel. However, that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of people’s struggle to buy fuel.

I do not understand why the government has to pay for the subsidy in the first place if they’re not trying to rip off the economy. 

I can’t even say any leader has done it better than the other. They should just let us have the fuel. The subsidy is always the issue because the money goes into someone’s pockets. We would be fine if we’re getting the product and not the subsidy just as other countries do.

David Kelechi (25)- Historian

I remember the story of the oil bunkering in south-south and how the government was involved in it. They need to do better with oil refineries.“ 

I have to use fuel every day, especially at night when there’s no electricity. So, I buy fuel at an average of 3 times a week.

Because the filling station I get fuel from isn’t one of the standard ones, the price is on a high side. It ranges between 250 and 300 naira, so it doesn’t really take much time to get fuel. I spend about an hour or a maximum of one hour and some minutes. 

Most times buying from the filling station is seamless except on some rare occasions where there is a long queue, probably because fuel marketers are creating a hike or panic.

I have not bought fuel from the black market before. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a filling station close to my house. 

Sometimes when I have to use public transportation to my destination, there may be a sudden fare increase, and they would apportion the blame to “fuel scarcity”. This affects me financially and stresses my well-being because that’s an unplanned expense that wasn’t originally in my budget. If there’s no electricity, I can’t function properly too. 

Also Read: Chaos, 18-Hour Queue, Banned Celebs: The Day Prince Performed at Ronnie Scott’s

I think the government is spending too much on themselves; embezzlement and bribery. Government leaders should cut down on their salaries, allowances and budget for irrelevant projects that can’t be accounted for. The allocation of budget to some sectors is exorbitant. If this money was properly channelled into more appropriate places, we wouldn’t have problems with subsidized fuel, and fuel can be sold at normal rates. Imagine renovating the national assembly for how many billions of naira. “ha, ha, ha, Jokers!”

I just hope the next president is well-educated and smart and can sort things out for a better Nigeria.

Oluwatomi Otuyemi

Oluwatomi Otuyemi, a Geology graduate from Crawford University, has 5 years experience in corporate corporate communications. He has a passion for storytelling, and investigative reporting.

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