The astronomical increase in the price of kerosene popularly referred to as domestic cooking facility in the country has spilled to Ilorin, capital city of Kwara State. AHMED 'LATEEF writes on the negative effects of the commodity on residents of city.
When sometime ago the Federal Government announced that a litre of kerosene had been fixed at N50, many users especially the poor masses who, by circumstance, major users took to filling stations of both major and independent marketers to procure the product.
The expression on the faces of the people then showed some level of relief, and a departure from the anguish that characterized scarcity and upsurge in the price of the commodity at few stations that dispensed to the public.
In the period of the scarcity of the product, marketers and their attendants at filling stations leveraged on the opportunity provided by the little availability to exploit and extort domestic users.
It was ugly scenario in some filling stations where attendants also gave order on who to buy and who not to get the product despite the higher cost they were selling it.
But in spite of the reduction in price of the litre to N50, long queues pervaded the few stations as buyers suspected to be retailers crowded the stations with several jerry cans and big drums.
However, the relief over slashing the price of kerosene did not last long following the government's decision to subtly withdraw subsidy from the domestic product.
Not long after the subsidy was removed that the grim picture of anguish in the face of the people surfaced with the price of a litre of kerosene moved from N170 to N180 to N190 and now to N250 and N260.
But people are not finding it easy, no thanks to the present economic downturn, which has continued to take severe tolls on the people. Though the consequence of the economic quagmire did not spare any class of the society, the impact has been more felt by those at the lower rungs of the ladder.
The situation has whittled down the purchasing power of the masses and now finding it herculean to even purchase cost-less items in the market. The fall back also hit traders who displayed their wares without appreciable sales on daily basis.
This is coupled with the exchange rate, particularly dollar, which is oscillating between N480 and N500 and so on. Presently, dollar price is being used to determine the economic policy in the country.
Although the Federal Government has maintained its position on the foreign exchange at official rate, but happenings in the parallel market also known as black markets did not depict any serious effort to checkmate the activities of the Bureau De Change operators.
And this development apparently has direct consequence on private business owners who claimed they sourced forex in the open market at high cost to get their businesses running.
As for private business operators, so also fuel dealers who insisted that they also sourced the dollar from the black market at astronomical price to naira, Nigeria currency.
They held that the continuous rise in the price of dollar will not stop telling on the price of petroleum products they import into the country.
Apparently worried about the economic situation, several Nigerians especially consumers of kerosene for domestic purpose were aghast on the unabated rise in the price of the commodity.
The price of the product has got the downtrodden into apprehension and currently bewildered on what to do to address the anomaly.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the effect of unavailability and sudden increase in the price of kerosene has continued to manifest and spread like wildfire.
A visit to a new petrol station near Railway Station, Ilorin yesterday showed how several number of retailers and domestic users alike thronged the stations in an attempt to buy the commodity at N250 per litre.
During the visit around 9:30am, the prospective consumers formed what could be regarded as long queues of jerry cans despite the fact that it was one machine that was seen dispensing the commodity.
It was observed that it was only the station that dispensed the commodity and at N250 per litre while others within the neighbourhood were believed to have run out stocks.
A female attendant at the station confirmed to our correspondent that the station dispensed a litre of kerosene for N250.
"It is true we are selling here for N250, and that is the reason people bombarded this place unlike others that sold at N260 per litre. We are being considerate of the economic situation in the country and we don't want to unnecessarily add to the pains of the masses", she said.
Some of the buyers who spoke to The Herald, regretted that the price of kerosene had skyrocketed and now beyond the reach of commoners.
A buyer, Mrs Fatimoh Ishola, expressed anger that Nigerians were passing through difficult time in getting what should be ordinarily available in quantum.
"It is displeasing that up till now we are still confronted with the issue of scarcity and hike in the price of kerosene. There are places where the commodity was being sold N260 and above but we decided to come to this place because of N10 difference and because it is close to my house", Mrs Ishola said.
Another consumer, who spoke in the same vein, appealed to the government to adopt multiple approaches in fixing the ailing economy.
"Nigerians are complaining everyday that the state of economy is nothing to write home about. They are getting tired. Imagine a situation whereby we masses cannot get common kerosene at a reasonable price. This is not to even talk about endless queues in few places (stations) where we get the commodity. Government should please address this in quick time so that the confidence we have in this government will not totally wane".
Speaking with our correspondent on the development, the state factional chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Olanrewaju Okanlawon, blamed the economic crisis and scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) on the increase in price of kerosene.
Okanlawon also noted that the effect of forex had become pervasive in every sector of the economy, and pleaded for timely action to stem the tide.
"The major factor that is bringing everything up is (rise) in dollar as foreign exchange, because most of these products (kerosene and others) are imported. As long as kerosene is sourced with dollar, definitely the price will go up.
"If you are talking about high cost of kerosene and cooking gas, what do you have to say about aviation fuel that has also risen up? The price of diesel has also risen up. One wonders that the government is not doing something about the landing cost of petrol. The landing cost in Nigeria now has gone high. That is the situation at hand. Everything is imported, that is what is making everything difficult now.
"The problem we have at hand is the economy. The government should work on the economy so that the dollar will come down. If the dollar did not come down, things will not be stabilized. It affects everything because almost everything we are using in this country is sourced with dollar. So, as long as the dollar is going up, the multiplier effect of it is rising up of prices of goods. If the government can manage the monetary policy by ensuring that dollar comes down, prices of goods will come down", the IPMAN boss said.