31st May, 2011
Despite several assurances by the government to do something about the rising price of kerosene, the price of the domestic cooking fuel continues to rise.
At the initial stage when the product became scarce and the price was spiralling, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Livy Ajuonuma, allayed public fears about the non availability of the product, stressing that the corporation had the product in abundance.
He blamed the scarcity and the rising price of the product on middlemen whom he accused of causing artificial scarcity of the product in order to make high profit.
The NNPC spokesman then assured the public that his corporation would act fast to bring the scarcity to an end.
But several weeks after making this promise, the situation is still the same and the has even degenerated from bad to worse. Users of the domestic cooking fuel are complaining bitterly about the scarcity and escalating cost of the commodity.
As at today, a four-litre gallon of kerosene sells for N800 at the various retail outlets instead of the official price of N240. In some states, the price is higher and goes for N1,200 per gallon, wherever it is found.
Apart from the high cost of the commodity, it is also very scarce. Hardly can one get the commodity to buy at the filling stations. The few filling stations where the commodity is available usually witness rowdiness due to the large number of consumers seeking to buy the scarce product. In some of these stations, consumers spend hours before they can get the product to buy. Some narrate bitter experiences in the hands of filling station attendants who exploit them before they can get a gallon of kerosene to buy.
Those who cannot endure the long hours, the high cost and the inconveniences have since abandoned their stoves. Many housewives and petty food sellers now use coal pot or firewood to cook their foods. This has led to an increase in the prices of coal pot and firewood in all the states.
And as if this is not enough trouble, some unscrupulous Nigerians have taken to adulterating the product and adding to the woes of consumers. Adulterated kerosene had resulted in fire outbreak and burns which had sent many victims to the hospital or untimely death.
It is sad that this is coming shortly after the numerous promises made by President Goodluck Jonathan during his electioneering campaign to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians. Now that the peope have reposed their trust in the president by electing him for a four-year term, he has to fulfill his own part of the bargain. And that is to ameliorate the suffering of the people.
We are calling on President Jonathan to intervene quickly by bringing the price of kerosene down and making it available in all the filling stations in the country. Enough of the suffering of the masses.
President Jonathan should appoint a team under his direct supervision to take charge of the supply and distribution of the product.