Residents in frontier communities in Ogun, Lagos, Adamawa, Katsina and Sokoto states are currently battling with fuel scarcity. This comes five days after the Federal Government issued a directive stating that no petroleum product should be supplied to filling stations within 20km of the borders.
This, however, has posed an upsurge in the price of petrol in the affected communities. The key communities affected severely by the rise include Ihunbo, Ilase, Ajegunle, Idiroko and Agosasa, all in the Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State.
When enquired on how residents were faring amid the scarcity, a resident of Ipokia, Elijah Akinola, having blamed the security officials for trying to sabotage the economy of the nation said; “Can you imagine buying a litre of fuel at the rate of N600? Before we can get fuel for N145 in Ipokia, we will need to go to Owode, which is 28 kilometres away. We don’t know what we can do to survive.
“Before the Federal Government’s order, they (security agents) used to take bribes from marketers before allowing them to export fuel to the Benin Republic. Now that the Federal Government has stopped the supply of fuel to border communities, we are the ones suffering. Artisans, even medical personnel, are the ones suffering.
Going by the recent development, many filling stations especially the ones close to the Benin Republic have shut down because of their inability to keep up with supplies.
Speaking also, a resident of Seme, Anthony Ukit disclosed that he has not been working since the implementation of the Federal Government’s directive.
“I heard that only two filling stations are selling fuel. I have not gone out since last week. I am planning to go out tomorrow (Tuesday). Business is really dull here. No passengers.” He said.
The Federal Government issued the directive to curb the illegal movements of petroleum products to neighbouring countries following the closure of the nation’s border.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd), on announcing the closure of the borders said that they will remain closed until neighbouring countries adhere to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on the transit of goods.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension of the border closure till January 31, 2020.
Although the government has a tangible reason for shutting the borders temporarily, it has however amounted to double jeopardy for Nigeria. While trying to ward of smugglers lurking in the border regions, citizens face an economic quagmire as virtually all commodities especially rice has become expensive. Now the price of fuel has made an upward trajectory too.
The question now is, should the borders remain closed until 2020? Shouldn’t there be other ways to tackle the issue of smugglers loitering in the borders like stationing enough security personnel to ensure smuggling does not persist?
Even though Nigeria claims it has made more money since it closed its land borders, This will be a two-way streak for the country as substandard imported items will no longer penetrate the borders and then promote the standard price of commodities.