When the price of fuel was N86.50 per
litre, Lagos-based Mr. Raji Olanrewaju used to fill up his Toyota car
fuel tank with about N7,000. Now that it is being sold for N145 per
litre, he now spends almost N12,000.
Two weeks ago when he drove to and fro
Ibadan from Lagos (280km, according to Google Maps) to attend a social
function, he spent about N4,500 on fuel at the old rate of N86.50.
A week later when the new price was
announced, he spent around N9,500 to drive to and fro Ijebu-Ode, Ogun
State, from Lagos (174.6km).
Meanwhile, his salary has not increased and so he is unhappy.
Although fuel scarcity, coupled with
high cost of buying fuel, had persisted in the country since last year,
it was last week’s development that made Olanrewaju to understand the
He said, “Food prices have gone up. The
amount to fill up my car fuel tank has risen. But my income has not.
Now, I have abandoned my car. I have to face reality. I now go to work
by public transportation. I go by Bus Rapid Transit. The convenience is
no longer there like what you have when you drive your own car, but what
else can one do?
“I used to take my children to school
with my car, but now that’s no longer feasible. They now go via public
transport. They too are feeling the economic reality. I hope things will
change for the better later.”
A Lagos-based bachelor banker, Mr. Olatunde Ayinde, lamented to Saturday PUNCH that between last Saturday and Monday, he spent around N12,000 to run his V6 engine-powered Lexus SUV.
But before, he used to spend about N5,000 to fill up his car fuel tank to cruise around the city at weekends.
“Now, there is no more cruising,” he
said. “My income has not increased and it will be foolish for me to keep
spending such an amount on fuel alone.”
Ayinde added he was going to take the car only to church on Sundays.
He said, “I’ve parked my car in my
compound now. I have promised myself to only take it to church on
Sundays or maybe special functions. I may not attend every friend and
family function again. To be hopping from one public bus to another is
not easy. It’s not convenient. But with the new fuel price, I’m going
back to public transport.
“Things are no longer easy, I must
confess. Prices of foodstuff in the market have also skyrocketed.
Electricity bills have gone up. Meanwhile, my salary has not been
increased by my employer. So, it just doesn’t make sense to live the
lifestyle I’m used to.
Students of OAU have taken to cycling
“Now I have to cut down on some
expenses. I don’t buy what I don’t really need these days again. It is
not easy going back to an old lifestyle, but what can a man do but to
A Lagos-based engineer, Mr. Kola
Olaoluwa, bought a car for her banker wife who works on Victoria Island
in January 2016, even though he has yet to have one for himself.
They live at Berger, 35 kilometres apart
from Victoria Island, and the purchase of the car was to make life
comfortable for her, he told Saturday PUNCH.
“I told her right from the beginning
that she would be the one fuelling it. I didn’t want my wife sweating to
go and come back from work every day. That’s why I bought her the car,”
But the new pump price of fuel, together
with the usual daily stress encountered on driving to Lagos Island, has
made her wife dump her car at home and go to work via the BRT.
Olaoluwa said, “My wife usually drives
her car to work on Victoria Island from Berger, but now she has started
going by public transport. I am not happy about this due to the stress
involved when you go to work by public transport.
“You get delayed sometimes due to the
bus drivers stopping here and there. Another passenger could be carrying
a bag of tomatoes or onions or pepper and be sitting beside you in a
public bus. Before you know, they can stain your clothes. I have
experienced this many times.
“They have stolen her phone before in a
public bus alongside some money. When you look at all the downsides of
public transportation, it just makes sense to have your own car,
especially in a city like Lagos.
“But with this new price of fuel at
N145, she has gone back to the previous lifestyle. She complained she
was spending more money on fuel. It makes economic sense to me too to
dump her car for now, that’s why I didn’t argue with her. She has to do
other things with her money. I would have been supporting her but I’m
not financially buoyant now. I just hope things get better soonest.”
An oil company worker who lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mr. Tari Sekibo, told Saturday PUNCH via telephone that the new fuel pump price was also biting hard for him and his family.
Without the prompt payment of salary
again by his employer, he said it was “not realistic for now” to
continue driving his fuel-gulping V8 engine-powered Toyota SUV.
He said, “It’s not funny anymore. I
can’t remember when last I went somewhere by public transport. But
believe me, I did so last Saturday when a friend of mine was getting
married in Warri, Delta State. It looked awkward, but I couldn’t
“Before, when the price was N86.50, I
could just buy N10,000 worth of fuel to go for such a journey. Last week
Friday when I calculated what I would spend if I should drive my
personal car, it was around N23,000. And for quite some time now, since
last year when the global oil prices fell, we’ve not been getting our
salaries regularly again.
“Now our salaries are being paid on the
40th or on the 50th. You know what that means? It means we now get paid
10 or 20 days into the second month. I had to dump the car in Port
Harcourt to go to Warri via public bus. If not for the closeness to my
friend, I wouldn’t even have gone.”
While many people are abandoning their
cars to mitigate the economic effects of the fuel price hike, another
Port Harcourt resident, Mr. Solomon Gagbe, said he had bought a bicycle
which he would be using to transport himself to short distant places
where he used to take cabs to.
He said, “Transport fares have doubled.
How many people can cope with the development? There are many expenses
apart from transport that one needs to make, so I can’t allow just one
aspect to gulp all my income.
“I have bought a bicycle. I used to ride
before, but I stopped. Right now, I’m going back to riding bicycles. I
need no fuel. Cycling doesn’t know traffic. There is not much
maintenance to make, and I’ll still be able to go to anywhere I’m going
to, except for long distances.”
Last week, a monarch, the traditional
ruler of Nawfia in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe
Chijioke Nwankwo, had asked Nigerians to change their lifestyle so as to
beat the fuel price increase.
His recommendation: “Nigerians should start riding bicycles.”
He said, “I don’t know what the cost of
petrol is in all the countries of the world, but in some places I have
visited, especially in Europe and America, Nigeria enjoys the cheapest
petrol price regime.
“In such areas, you would see people
ride bicycles to go to work because the cost of transportation is high
due to high cost of fuel. Nigerians should be encouraged to start riding
bicycles and bicycle allowances should be re-introduced, particularly
for civil servants.”
Criticising the Federal Government for
not making due consultations with all the stakeholders before the
decision was taken, he added, “Nobody is happy. Life is extremely
difficult. The economy is generally bad. The whole thing is having a
devastating impact on the people.”
In Osogbo, Osun State, commercial bus
drivers were said to have withdrawn their vehicles from the road
“because passengers don’t want to pay and we have to pay almost double
for a price of one litre of fuel,” a commercial bus driver said in a
Passengers now trek short distances in
the city, our correspondent has learned, especially as the state
government is owing workers several months of salaries.
In Lagos, some commuters are now also opting for bicycles due to the hike in fuel price.
A resident of Egbeda, a furniture maker, Mr. Badmus Alade, told Saturday PUNCH he was done with his personal car for the time being.
He said, “I’ve been cycling to work
since last week. I have dumped my car at home. The economic condition
had been really hard since last year, then they increased the fuel
price. It was just devastating. Even my children now go to school via
public bus. It is not too safe for them, but what can we do for now?
“The only place we will be taking the
car to now is if we have a family function at weekends or when we are
going to church on Sundays. Apart from these, I’ve already covered the
car with tarpaulin.”
At the Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife, Osun State, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Omole, has also
encouraged the students of the institution to start riding bicycles.
However, the main reason cited by the
don for the development was to combat pollution, and not necessarily due
to fuel price hike.
Saturday PUNCH learned that this has spurred many of the students to form cycling clubs among themselves.
In 2001, a former Minister of Transport,
Chief Ojo Maduekwe, advocated a greater use of bicycles by Nigerians in
a bid to reduce gridlock on the roads.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2001, while he
was cycling to attend a Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, two
buses knocked him down into a ditch.
Hence, his advocacy for the use of
bicycles was criticised, particularly because of the poor state of the
country’s roads, coupled with the fact that there are no lanes for
bicycles in the country unlike what is obtained in the developed
Another way some Nigerians, especially in Lagos, have responded to the increase in fuel price is by adopting carpooling.
Carpooling, also known as car-sharing or
ride-sharing, is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one
person travels in a car.
This is how it usually works: a car
owner states on an online carpooling platform his route for a particular
day and then fixes a price for commuters who might want to join him for
the ride — that is, those going to the same destination as him. They
then book for a space in the car.
On the agreed day, the driver picks up those who booked for seats in his car and then gets paid.
A Lagos resident, Mr. Sola Gbadebo, told
how his friend who lives at Egbeda but works on Victoria Island sold
his Mercedes Benz saloon car to buy an 18-seater bus.
Though this is not a new development in
the city, Gbadebo said his friend did so last week when he heard that
fuel price had been increased.
“He just sold his car and bought the bus
so he could be carrying other passengers. I was marvelled. Now, he has
some people who have booked for seats in his bus. They also work on the
island,” he said.
Saturday PUNCH learned that
some Lagos residents have now turned their cars to cabs in this way,
while economists and environmentalists say it is “a good development.”
“By having more people using one
vehicle, carpooling reduces each person’s travel costs such as fuel
costs, tolls, and the stress of driving,” a Lagos-based economist,
Babatunde Abraham, said.
He, however, said that more people
dumping their cars also means more pressure on public transportation,
“which is never enough in the first place.”
Environmentalists say carpooling is also
a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to travel as
sharing journeys reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion on the
roads, and the need for parking spaces.
In the developed economies, authorities
have often encouraged carpooling, especially during periods of high
pollution or high fuel prices, just like what is obtainable in the
For example, in the United States in
2009, carpooling represented 43.5 per cent of all trips in the country
and 10 per cent of all commute trips, according to statistics.
There have been mixed reactions since
the Federal Government announced an increase of fuel price from N86.50
to N145 last week in order to deregulate the oil sector.
While some say it was about subsidy
removal, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said the development was not about
subsidy removal, but a foreign exchange problem.
Whatever it might be, many Nigerians
have called for either a reversal of the price to N86.50 or an increase
in the minimum wage of workers.
A member of the Lagos State House of
Assembly, Dipo Olorunrinu, with the Twitter handle @HonDipoO, said, “If
fuel price must be N145, then we must review the income of workers as
regards the minimum wage.”
Also, a cyber and information security
analyst, Andy Madaki, with the handle @AndyMadaki, lamented on Twitter
that increasing the fuel price to N145 without increasing the minimum
wage of Nigerians was insensitive.
“Pegging fuel price at N145 when you’re
not increasing minimum wage or giving three months notice is quite
insensitive,” he said.
A pastor and lecturer at Ladoke Akintola
University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Adeolu Afolabi, said on
Facebook, “Nigerian self-styled leaders are fantastically corrupt
morally. What they wronged in 2012 has now received their approval in
2016. Thank God you are not God. You would have pardoned the Devil by
now… he (the Devil) could be a saint in our days.”
Economists argue that the country could
have gone past this era many years ago when foreign exchange earnings
were buoyant and the oil price was at its peak.
“Inasmuch as I support the removal of
fuel subsidy, I am pained that the same people who could not see common
reason for its removal. What somebody saw in 2012 is what some
hypocrites are just seeing in 2016. My annoyance is their failure to
apologise to Nigerians over their ill-informed decision,” Chinedu
Odimegwu said on Facebook.
“We cannot be running this country by
trial and error anymore. Good opposition is not antagonising every
government’s policy. It must be critically looked into being critiqued.
If the ruling party had done a good job when former President Goodluck
Jonathan announced subsidy removal in 2012, they would have let him be.
But because of politics, they antagonised what was good for Nigeria,” a
Nigerian economist with a London bank, Oluyemi Babawale, told Saturday PUNCH via LinkedIn.
He added, “Subsidy removal in Nigeria
was the way forward when Jonathan wanted to do it. But because the
present ruling party wanted to get into power by all means, they
antagonised him and unsettled his administration. Corruption is not only
when you steal money, but when you use tricks to get into power.”
Notable among the critics of the fuel
price raise is the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who
said, “When they were seeking votes from Nigerians, they promised to
reduce petrol pump price from N87 to N45 per litre, they promised to
create three million jobs per year, they said $1 will be equal to N1 and
above all, they promised to pay unemployed youths N5,000 stipends and
provide one meal a day to pupils nationwide.
“Instead of fulfilling their promises,
they have increased petrol pump price to N145 per litre, increased
electricity tariffs, retrenched thousands of workers and imposed untold
hardships on Nigerians.”
A Senator from Bayelsa State, Ben
Murray-Bruce, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to
consider the “immense suffering in Nigeria and increase the minimum wage
to help workers cope with increased fuel price.”
The economist, Babawale, also said the Federal Government should as soon as possible implement the 2016 budget.
“Subsidy removal is good. It’s been a
fraud all along. Deregulation is good for the oil sector to work. But if
the budget is properly implemented, and there is electricity, there are
railways, and so on, it will cushion the effects of the increase and
the economy will bounce back,” he added.
culled from Punch