Fuel queues in Nigeria: The shame of a nation

By Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe

The paroxysm that so frequently afflicts the supply  line of petrol and kerosene in our dear country is getting so regular and predictable that we all really have to be  thoroughly ashamed as a nation.
If we check our national newspapers in the past 25 years  at the libraries and archives, we would be shocked at the revelation,every year,  of recurring headlines of “Fuel queues resurface in Lagos, Abuja”, ‘NNPC assures enough supply, advises no panic buying’, “Fuel scarcity bites harder,” “DPR warns fuel dealers against hoarding”,’Govt threatens to deal with oil profiteers’ and so forth.
And, trust our people, these preachments and admonitions  are faithfully observed in their breach, in accord with our national habit.
But must we continue in  this  manner from generation to generation?
One colleague was reported to have said: “All this wahala of fuel shortages and Naira fluctuation never happened throughout Abacha’s time.” So what was the magic, if our friend’s angry quip was actually true? Some headline writers called Abacha a “maximum ruler” because of his no–nonsense and sledge hammer approach to both  national and international issues in his days (1994 – 1998).
Not that Nigerians weren’t already familiar with a modicum of dictatorial governance much earlier than General Abacha’s regime.
Nigerians who were old enough to be aware of things happening around them from January 1, 1984, would still remember the duo of General Muhammadu Buhari and General ‘Tunde Idiagbon. They stormed into office with smoking guns that ended the second-tenure civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari which had just started on October 1, 1983!
Thus ended our Second Republic after  Just four years and three months! For whatever were their human failings and executive excesses, the two unsmiling soldiers gave  Nigeria a new lease of life nation  truly experienced a rebirth .
Indiscipline that was the second name of Nigeria took flight.
Nigerians began once again to respect and practise the dictum of “first-come-first-served” and automatically took their places in any queue.
Fortunately Buhari is back to office, albeit as a civilian leader.While allowing that it is some 30 years that separate Buhari-1 and Buhari-2, and the natural onset of infirmities of old age, will President Buhari tell Nigerians that he has lost touch of all that made his military regime tick?
What of harmless but very effective W.A.I.? The war against indiscipline. Are they all dead who helped to prosecute policy?
If fuel queues will disappear with the return of draconian regimentation of the populace, so let it be.
A law-abiding and law-respecting citizen will never have anything to lose, no matter how drastic the law is.
After all the law is there for those who break it.
Every Nigerian should really feel the shame that the long queues to buy fuel brings to country when television and social media transmit the images across the world and beyond. The new NNPC – Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation -, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and indeed all State agencies responsible for a steady and seamless supply of petroleum products in Nigeria, should brace up and do their job.
Harassment of private dealers should be limited to ensuring they do not manipulate their pump guages to the detriment of the innocent consumer.
They should be left alone to sell prices that the buyer is ready to pay.
The. NNPC and the other mega suppliers should meanwhile. Open more stations throughout the country to prove the needed alternatives to patient Nigerians.