BY IBRAHIM BUBA
One could wonder the queue beside the famous Ahmadu Bello University Student Representative Council (SRC) secretariat. Being inquisitive I could not pass such a crowd without finding a reason as to the long awaited queue.
Even before I could ask, hundreds of students were holding kerosene kegs, which obviously meant the crowd was for kerosene. To my surprise, there has been a scarcity of kerosene within the institution, making students life a lot more complicated, survival was for the fittest: to get kerosene is a feat, to pay for it is another, as kerosene sells at over 200 naira a litre. Currently, the scarcity of kerosene, used by many Nigerians, has resulted in about 100 per cent increase in its price. With the non-availability of the product at many filling stations, roadside vendors are selling a gallon (4.5 litres) of kerosene for between N1, 200 and N1, 400.
For quite some time now, the price of kerosene went up to a scandalous level and is sold between N200 and N250 per litre. Kerosene marketers have attributed the escalation in prices of kerosene to a shortfall in the importation of the product because of scarcity of foreign exchange.Not only that; they also blamed the scarcity and hike in prices of the product on unpaid debts by the federal government, other governments harsh economic policies and governments’ policy inconsistencies in the oil and gas industry.
Kerosene product which is daily used to power stoves for the preparation of meals in most Nigerian homes has become a nightmare to most students and other users of the product across the nation.The product is hardly found in the filling stations and amongst the few selling it the price skyrockets to over N200 as against the recently official price of N130 per litre pegged by the Federal Government. As a result of this ugly situation most students who rely on the product for preparation of food for their families and to feed their lanterns, especially at this present era of epileptic public supply of electricity, resort to roadside hawkers where the price is even higher. We are worried at this unhealthy development in the oil and gas sectors for a horde of reasons. First, Kerosene is widely used by virtually every family in this country because it is cheap and ought to be available to every household. Thus, the increase in price and the scarcity will definitely affect the standard of living of average Nigerian and would surely put additional burden on the citizens who are already depressed by our comatose economy.
The university authority when addressed with the issue of kerosene scarcity said “We officially provided a mini kerosene station within the institution so as to ease the burden of students from going out to filling stations to buy kerosene and also from road site marketers who explore students. Despite the fact that this scarcity is experienced at a national level, we are doing our best to ensure that our student get kerosene and at a subsidized rate”.
Most students have also lamented over this scarcity and price hike. Students hardly cook three meals a day. Some have resorted to use to electric cookers and hot plates which has been banned by the university authority, but they are left with no choice other than that. Truly, the scarcity of the product is seen in many circles as anti-people because it is a policy that affects more of the commoners especially students.The whole thing becomes more biting when students who use kerosene and who ordinarily would have switched over to firewood cannot do so now, because the academic environment does not permit so. So, what will the students do?We must be quick to point out that students are in a dilemma because almost all students rely on kerosene for their daily survival.
In view of this, students urge the federal government to reverse some inconsistent policies which hinder the growth of the economy and especially the importation of kerosene and also the university authority to provide solutions that will ease the burden of students in the institution.We urge the federal government to move fast to remove all the encumbrances on the way of importation of gas, fuel, diesel. When this is done, the prices would crash and the citizens will be better for it.