25 May 2015, Lagos – Manufacturers warned at the weekend that the economy would die, if the crippling fuel scarcity continues.
The Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) called for a drastic response to the situation which, it said has a risk of social unrest.
A faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is threatening a strike over the crisis.
The scarcity has virtually crippled the economy, with telecom firms warning that they could scale down their services for lack of diesel to power their base stations.
Air travel has been hit as flights have been either cancelled on the domestic routes or the frequency substantially slashed.
Food prices have risen steeply in many parts of the country due to the cost of transportation.
LCCI President Remi Bello, in a statement, said most economic and social activities had been paralysed, with the danger of an imminent shutdown of the entire economy. “There is no evidence of active engagement with stakeholders in the petroleum industry to bring an end to the crisis. The government needs to demonstrate accountability to the people,” he said, adding:
“The impression should not be created that governance has been abandoned. The administration has responsibility for the management of government business till the very last day of its tenure. The country and the economy should not be allowed to continue to drift as if there is no one in charge
“The power sector has practically collapsed, with power generation slightly above 1000 megawatts.”
Bello warned that the option of alternative power generation, which the private sector has resorted to, “ is fizzling out, with the acute shortage of petroleum products”.
He said: “Economic activities across virtually all sectors are progressively grounding to a halt, communication services are on the verge of being shut down as telecommunication companies have given indication of imminent shutdown of their base stations.
“We call for an urgent intervention by President Goodluck Jonathan to bring a halt to the imminent collapse of economic and social life in the country. There should be an immediate engagement of stakeholders in the petroleum industry to discuss the outstanding issues of indebtedness and related labour matters, in the interest of the economy and the citizens. The situation should not be allowed to degenerate any further
“It is in the overriding interest of the economy and the citizens to quickly deregulate the sector.”
Mobile giant MTN said it urgently needed diesel to prevent shutting down services.
MTN Nigeria posted a message on Twitter, saying most of its base stations and switches are powered by generators. The company, with 50 million subscribers, said it might be compelled to suspend service if it does not receive significant amount of fuel in the next 24 hours.
Another leading telecom company, Airtel Networks Limited, in a statement, said “the prevailing situation in the country regarding the scarcity of diesel and other petroleum products is at present impacting negatively our commitments to delivering best-in-class quality of service and seamless telephony experience to all Nigerians.
“While we are currently doing everything within our means as well as going the extra mile to ensure that all our base stations and switches are up and running, it is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to replenish current stock of diesel due to the lingering scarcity of the products.
“We are also concerned that, if the situation persists, it may have adverse effects on our network, impacting both voice and data services.”
Arik Air, the biggest airline operator, yesterday operated only one-third of its schedule. It cancelled all domestic flights on Saturday as the fuel shortage worsened. Spokesman of the airline Banji Ola said: “We’re operating just a few flights today, maybe 30 per cent of our normal operations. We could not operate domestic flights yesterday.”
Arik Air, with 26 aircraft, cut two-thirds of its 120 daily flights. That included flights to London’s Heathrow and New York needing to stop over for fuel in Kano, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lagos, Banji said.
Aero Contractors Ltd., Nigeria’s second-largest carrier, said on its website that “all our flights will not operate regularly as scheduled” due to fuel scarcity.
In a statement, Aero said:” Due to the general scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the country, the airline will not be able to operate over 80 per cent of her domestic flights as scheduled.
“In the last few weeks, the supply of aviation fuel has been very irregular, which has compelled the airline to cancel some flights. We apologise to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience they may have been experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations caused by the scarcity of aviation fuel.
“We urge our customers to always check our website at www.flyaero.com or contact the call centre agent to affirm if their scheduled flight will operate. Aero regrets any inconvenience the changes will cause. All measures are being made to ameliorate the situation and revert to her regular flight schedule. We hope that the situation improves very soon.”
But Air Peace said it was not affected by the scarcity of aviation fuel.
An official of the airline said operations had been running unhindered. Medview Airlines, DANA Air and AZMAN Air are also running normal flights.
The Comrade Joe Ajaero-led faction of the NLC has described the chronic fuel scarcity as a war against the citizens and a deliberate attempt to subject 170 million Nigerians to economic suicide.
The faction’s deputy President Comrade Issa Aremu, in a statement, said:
“Nigeria is the only country on earth which unacceptably and criminally denies its citizens basic sources of energy; fuel and electricity?’.
“After several weeks of deliberate deprivation of petroleum products by both the government and marketers alike with all the associated hardship, it is time all Nigerians stop agonising and rise in unison against this (Nigeria’s) agony capitalism.
“With petroleum products’ prices as high as N350 per litre (far above N87 per litre!) claims and counter-claims between Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and marketers over so-called N159bn subsidy payments and all state actors looking indifferent, Nigeria is the only country on earth which unacceptably and criminally denies its citizens basic sources of energy; fuel and electricity.
“What is happening in Nigeria amounts to economicide which is a conscious subjugation of 170 million people to economic suicide and economic ruination through unsustainable petroleum import-based racket that denies petroleum products needed for mass movement of goods and services, enriches few cabal, puts pressure on foreign exchange, fuels products hoarding and promotes sheer price robbery of the already impoverished citizens.
“This is an unofficial declaration of war against the citizens by combined forces of irresponsible ruling elite and business crooks. Economicide, just like genocide, is a deliberate and indiscriminate policy violence against a group of people with the intent to destroy the entire group physically and economically”.?