Nigeria : Petrol and Growing Pains

The Nigerian government announced Wednesday that prices of petrol, a necessity, will go up. And up with it, would be the collective blood pressures of a society to which the government has became an unbearable incubus. 
Already, gas station have quickly fiddled with their readings to reflect between N162 and N165. The regulatory agency feebly put it at N151 but it can’t enforce it. 
The new price will affect nearly everything. Inflation, for example, officially at 12.8 of GDP, will rise. Production costs will also rise and as demand weakens, companies who, at the moment, are barely alive, will be forced to lay off workers.There is virtually no public transport system in Nigeria. Commercial vehicle operators would adjust their fares and charges accordingly. 
Unemplyment, by government’s own admission, is at 27%. And that leaves out countless millions whose businesses have gone under. 

Nigerians known for their infinite capacity for endurance would have to live with more pains. They even seem to expect hardships from Mohammadu Buhari, their reclusive president. 
It is no wonder, therefore, that beyond the angst on social media and at newspapers stands, nothing will change. In fact , a mind-numbing “reality tv ” show, BBNIAJA, is trending more.
Ironically, Mr Buhari was propelled to power with one of many high profile protests against high energy prices when Goodluck Jonathan was president. Mr Buhari’s budding party at the time,promised to sell petrol at N40. But like in others, he didn’t make good his promise. 
On assuming power in 2015, petrol was N78 but it was reported that the out going government was running a “subsidy scam “. It would turn out that Mr Buhari’s government would pay higher subsidies and still be inefficient. 
 Former vice President Atiku Abubakar, has “rejected” the latest hike as have the Nigerian Labour Congress, among others. Like we said, it will be all noise. When Mr Buhari first jacked it to N145 from N87, nothing happened. 
Nigeria’s petroleum problem is classically convoluted : The nation is Africa’s largest exporter of crude oil. But it doesn’t know how to convert it to refined products. NNPC, the state oil company and in which Mr Buhari is chairman,is riddled with corruption and inefficiencies as it has been for decades.  All four refineries don’t work despite billions of dollars voted for repairs and maintenance. 
It must import in dollars and sell to middlemen who must make a profit. And because the Naira, its currency, is worthless, the prices will continue to rise. 
At some point, government argued that global oil prices would determine the cost of  petrol but the math has not worked.  At the moment, it is not even able to do a Crude -for -petrol deal as done by Venezuela, a fellow sufferer. 
Traditionally, fuel hikes in Nigeria have a domino effect on other products and Mr Buhari’s men and women are not exalt magicians. The pains, therefore, will only grow worse. 

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