For years, indigenes of the four local governments in Akoko area of Ondo State and parts of Ondo South Senatorial District were always sceptical about going home for celebrations as there was no good road and no power supply from the National Grid. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has intervened in these two critical areas
For years, the people of Ondo South and North Senatorial districts of Ondo State have been cut off from the National Grid, no thanks to their indebtedness to the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). The company disconnected the two senatorial districts from the grid, thereby putting the people in darkness for years. Despite the intervention of the administration the immediate past Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the BEDC insisted that the communities must pay parts of their debts before they could be reconnected to the National Grid. The communities also said they would not pay unless they were connected to the National Grid.
This led to a stalemate for years. In Ondo South, a group – “Bring back our light” – was formed. Several times, the traditional and political leaders from the zone met with the Minister of Power, Steel and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fasola, all to no avail.
However, the people of Akoko in Ondo North were lucky as the General Overseer of Synagogue Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, donated about N31 million for the restoration of electricity in the area. Despite the intervention of the man of God, some communities in Akoko area were yet to be connected to the National Grid while the substantial part of Ondo South still lived in darkness.
This development, coupled with bad roads, made many indigenes of the areas to stay away even during celebrations such as Christmas and New Year. Now that the festive periods are here, families will be travelling from near and far to visit their loved ones in their various communities to celebrate the Christmas and New Year.
To most families, the one-in-a-year festive period presents the real opportunity to be re-united with their people for celebrations. Some others also use the period to attend to some important and demanding family issues. Akeredolu has been making some concrete moves to ensure that the festive period is celebrated with pomp.
His intention is to use the festive period to reiterate to the people that he stands by all his promises to make life more worth living and better for the people across the state. This is the reason many communities in the Akoko and Okitipupa areas of the state will enjoy electricity this December after many years in darkness. Akeredolu recently got the management of BEDC to mobilise its equipment and ensure the return of electricity to the communities.
The latest communities to be reconnected include Ode-Aye, Okitipupa, Ogbagi-Akoko and Irun-Akoko. The BEDC Regional Head, Mrs. Kunbi Labiyi, expressed the company’s readiness to fix the electricity challenges confronting the Ondo communities before Christmas.
She said: “The goal is for Ode-Aye and adjourning communities or those on its path to have electricity before Christmas, regardless of the status of the existing dispute between the communities and our company as a show of goodwill to the governor in accordance with the spirit of this meeting.” The parley also agreed to jointly work together to ensure that power is supplied to Okitipupa, which is the major load centre in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
The modality to extend the gesture to Okitipupa, according to the meeting, will be firmed up between the management of BEDC and government’s team led by the Special Adviser to the governor on Public Utilities, Tunji Light Ariyomo (an en-gineer).
The feat was achieved following a recent parley between the governor and the management of BEDC in his office in Akure. The parley also agreed to jointly work together to ensure that power is supplied to Okitipupa, which is the major load centre in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
The affected towns have been in total darkness for the past five years. The management of BEDC told government that the abandoned transmission substation in Oke-Agbe- Akoko had been receiving attention to ensure smooth restoration of power to the affected communities in the Northern Senatorial District.
While addressing journalists after the parley, Ariyomo said government was in negotiation with power service providers to get mini-grids established to serve some of the communities that may be too far away or which might not benefit from the immediate reconnection by the BEDC. Aside embarking on moves to ensure the provision of electricity for the affected communities to enable the residents to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festivals without hitch, the Ondo State governor has also put in place machineries to ensure smooth rides by the people to their various towns and villages across the state. Infrastructural deficit has been identified as one of the challenges inherited by the current administration.
Akeredolu promised during his pre-election campaign that he would start laying the foundation for the economic development of Ondo State by tackling the infrastructural challenges. So, shortly after the inauguration of his government on February 24, he mobilised contractors to some communities considered inhabitable for locals across the three senatorial districts to fix their roads. In what was described as the season the people have been waiting for, Akeredolu has ordered contractors to mobilise their equipment to lay asphalt on Barracks Road in Akure, the state capital, and on Opasorun-Bajare-Apefon Road in Idanre Local Government Area. Across the state, constructions or repairs of roads are ongoing and at different stages of completion.
The roads, to the delight of the benefiting communities, are gradually becoming motorable. Three weeks ago, Akeredolu directed the Direct Labour Unit of the Ministry of Works to fix the collapsed culvert at Power Line in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area.
The construction of the culvert has been completed, while channels and lined drain are under construction. During a visit, the Special Adviser to the governor on Infrastructure, Mr. Aminu Raimi Olayiwola, told the people that the projects would be completed before December 31.
The contractor handling Sabomi Road in Ese-Odo Local Government Area has also mobilised to the site. The earth work on the road has been completed. A progress report obtained from the Commissioner for Works, Taofeek Abdulsalam, indicated that many projects are ongoing all over the state.
The report listed various sites in Ikare-Akoko and Akure among several others where contractors are busy working. Abdulsalam said that some of the projects were at various stages of completion. The commissioner added that government would not relent in its effort to construct roads and provide other necessary infrastructure across the state.
The interest of those willing to travel home by air is also being taken care of. Presently, the administration, in collaboration with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is building an arrival and departure lounge at the Akure Airport to make the facility more business-friendly. Since work began on the project, the airport has attracted more businesses and passengers.
Doctor by day, robber at night
- The Jimade we know, by friends, neighbours
- His victims are helping us –Police
- Not our duty to confirm membership –NMA
Almost a week after the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command declared Dr. Jimade Ola-Solomon wanted as the leader of a robbery gang, his medical facility, Vital Care Hospital, remains deserted. A visit by one of our correspondents to the hospital, located at Phase 3, Kubwa District of Abuja, showed no activity of any sort was going on there.
It would be recalled that the FCT Police Command last week declared Ola-Solomon also known as Jay, wanted over alleged involvement in armed robbery, carsnatching and other criminal tendencies. Speaking while parading members of the gang allegedly led by the medical doctor, FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Bello, said four pistols with eight rounds of live ammunition and a face mask which carefully hidden in a bag in the office of the doctor were recovered during a search conducted at the suspect’s hospital.
Bello further announced that the medical doctor, whose whereabouts remain unknown, is believed to be an indigene of the Ife Olukotun Community in the Yagba East section of Kogi State while also making it known that health and medical services had had gone on for about two years at the hospital.
Neighbours speak to Saturday Telegraph
Neighbours around the hospital based in the Kubwa area of Abuja, were uniform in expressing disappointment over the alleged nefarious activities of the man who may have become a fugitive to the law. However, residents around the medical facility described Ola-Solomon as humble, quiet man. Some of them said he is a handsome, young and nice doctor who paid attention only to his business and hardly responded to greetings or engage in conversations with any one apart from those relating to his profession.
While pleading anonymity, they told our correspondent that he is too kind and quiet for anyone to have suspected he was allegedly involved in such activities. One of them noted that he paid the rent for three years when he took over the premises about two years ago.
“He was too good, you can hardly find him talking to anyone. He had spent almost two years here but he was doing very well. There used to be lots of patients coming to seek medical attention.
“The doctor is a very nice person but nobody knew he was into this kind of crimes. It is unfortunate to learn that he was into these sorts of activities and that some guns were even discovered from the theatre,” he said. According to the young neighbour, Ola-Solomon can be regarded as a suc-cessful medical practitioner who knew his onions since many patients were always visiting his clinic. As at the time of Saturday Telegraph’s visit, it was observed that the beds and major equipment had all been removed.
Even the window nets were not spared. It was gathered that members of staff at the hospital deserted the premises immediately they got wind of the reports concerning their boss’ alleged criminal activities, even before the raid on the premises by the police.
Saturday Telegraph observed that the hospital has two wings; one housing the administrative section including a pharmacy, observation room and laboratory while the second wing accommodated the theatre and two wards, among others.
Those who spoke to Saturday Telegraph on the raid, said security operatives chased away the patients on admission and carted away beds, medical equipment and others upon recovering the guns allegedly hidden on the hospital premises. “SARS came and they emptied the place, it is just an empty house now. They asked all the people who were lying on the beds and receiving treatment to leave.
The equipment they took from here are not mere equipment, they are state-ofthe- art equipment used for carrying out surgeries,” one of the neighbours told our correspondent. Another noted that he was shocked to learn that a man as quiet as that could be allegedly deadly and ruthless.
When asked if he had proof, he retorted: “With those guns, are they for sight-seeing?” On social media where he maintained an active presence until now, it was observed that his Facebook page has been deleted but his Linkedin account remains active though looking bare.
His wife, (name withheld), seems familiar with a former Nigerian journalist (name withheld) now based in Germany, who now runs a popular blog. Back in 2014, a blog post titled: “Happy Birthday Darling Husband” was posted on the portal. The message from the woman who was celebrating her husband as part of their one-year anniversary, read: ”Dear …, “It took all of my courage to compose this message, and I am usually not this courageous except it is very important.
“Today Monday July the 21st will be my husband’s first birthday as a husband and a daddy; and because he goes out of his way to do so much for everyone else, and nothing for himself, I’d like to make this a memorable one for him and with your help of course! It will mean a lot to him and to me if you took the time to put him up on his birthday. “His name is Dr Jimade Ola-Solomon, and attached are a few photos of us. We are committed to your blog as though it were a lifeline… Please keep up the good work.
Thanks and God bless your beautiful soul. With Love, Mrs. Ola-Solomon.”On his own, the doctor has written at least four articles for popular youthbased online portal, YNaija! These are 15 Things You Need To Know About Vaginal Health published on March 11, 2013, 13 Tips On Getting Rid Of That Body Odour published on March 17, 2013, 35 Facts About HIV/AIDS We Often Forget published on April 14, 2013, 10 Tips To Having A Fresher Breath published on April 14, 2013 and by far the most popular online, Searching For A New You: Are You A Candidate For Cosmetic surgery? Facts You Should Know published on April 14, 2013.
“Writing in an article tiled The Dr. Jimade Ola-Solomon I know is not a criminal, a friend of the doctor, Emeka Ajuko, said he was shocked to learn of alleged crimes of his friend waking up one morning last week. While declaring foul play as what came to his mind, he wrote: “Foul play came straight to my mind.
This story barely adds up. “I went on social media read comments on the alleged accusation. I was disappointed to see a lot of people, people whom I believe to be literates casting aspersion on a young man they know nothing about.”
Expressing surprise that Nigerians still don’t read between the lines on stories presented by the police despite “the level of incompetence, charade, deception and ineptitude in the Nigeria Police Force, together with other agencies like Special Fraud Units and SARS,” he said: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”
Going further, he wrote: “I have known Dr. Jimade Ola Solomon for 15 years now. We met each other at the University of Ilorin, I remember that sunny afternoon while I was sitting in the hostel and a vibrant young man came into the room with his daddy’s driver carrying some of his bags. We were bunk mates for a year and I never saw a trace of nefarious activities or criminal tendencies in that young man. I only saw an intelligent young man, full of ideas and a dream to become a good medical doctor.
“Dr. Jimade Ola Solomon was a good student, never repeated a class all through his pursuit in becoming a medical doctor. He was always fond of talking about his daddy and how he wanted his daddy to be proud of him as he was the only son of four children. He was a socialite (the founder of Defclan) and made a lot of friends who should be able to say to anyone who cares to listen “This is obviously a setup”. “Some say he was a notorious gang leader in the university.
Get your facts right peeps is Defclan a cult? Answer is No. Defclan members were only ambitious and intelligent student in medical college in his era as the Chief of the club. All the members of Defclan are doing extremely well in their different medical fields both here in Nigeria and abroad. He was a mentor and left the university with clean records. It stands to reason that this is defamation of character.”
Wondering what the real motive is and why, Ajuko wondered: “How would a young promising doctor, who worked in the State Clinic Abuja, Established his own hospital, married to a beautiful woman who has a fine career job and impeccable character stoop so low to staying on the highway to rob cars or mix with the hooligans we saw on the newspapers? To risk his beautiful career c’mon for Christ sake we watch the news all over the world and see the tricks of the Government/ Police/Public officials all over the world, some of these political stunts are also shown in true life movies, where top officials get involved in dubious criminal activities and nail it on innocent souls.” In a line directed at the doctor while drawing up his conclusion, he wrote that “Dr. Ola Solomon Jimade, I don’t know if you still alive or dead, but I hope you are alive.
I want you to stay strong and believe in God to prove your innocence. Light will shine over darkness and truth over lie. They could not kill your dreams so they decided to assassinate your personality.”
Across different platforms online, Nigerians are having their say, with many of them also saying the story doesn’t add up. A Facebook user, Wilson Ometan, wrote in the comment section of a link of the story thus: “Is he tried in court and convicted yet. Suppose somebody planted evidence in his office. OK but cultists are not all armed robbers or are they? Even these their cultists traditions in schools are just groups to belong or to have safety. OK suppose he was framed and kidnapped too.”
Kemmy Abodunrin, another commenting online, wrote: “Bee He is still on the run! I find the story hard to believe. How do people know this? Let’s give him the benefit of doubt until he’s proven guilty. This can be a set up. May God help us.” His page on Facebook, which seems to have been deleted days after the story went viral, says he joined the social network in 2010 and also listing him as being from Lagos but residing in Abuja. Another Facebook user, Elizabeth Otobrise, said the story looks like fiction.
“This cannot be true, I strongly believe he is being setup to destroy his career.God will fight for him and (he) will be vindicated at last.” Austa Soeze-McAngus, whose profile is listed as M. D at Symx Hospital Ltd, added:
“I smell a rat! This one they searched and found incriminating objects in his hospital! Nigeria police can implicate to prove a point” Miss Ese @mzesbellz, a young woman who got through with her NYSC in late 2016 on Instagram, also finds it hard to believe that the doctor she once worked for could be an armed robber. “So my former employer is an armed robber? I’m still in shock, I can’t believe this…Dude is so proper,” she simply wrote.
NMA maintains only confirmation will trigger action
Speaking to one of our correspondents, the National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Mike Ogirima, said once confirmation had been established that Dr Ola-Solomon was indeed culpable, he would have his licence revoked while assuring security agencies of their support at all times in identifying bad eggs among them.
“We are not in the position to confirm if he is one of us, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) who holds the register of all the doctors in the country has the final say on this issue. That is why I said if it is confirmed.
“The MDCN is the equivalent of a high court. He would be tried by the Council and also tried in the other court which will make it a multiple trial. “Penalty is straight forward, if he is confirmed we will dismiss him and we will hand him over to the law enforcement agency. Of course the law enforcement agency is already on the matter and we are willing to do more than handing him over, we will strengthen the prosecution,” he said.
We are still on his trail –Police
Meanwhile, the police command yesterday said detectives were still on the trail of the suspect as the command further noted that some “victims” have narrated their ordeals in the hands of the gang to detectives. “We are still on his trail. We are still on it; we are intensifying efforts.
The other suspects are still in custody; they are helping us with our investigation. Some of their victims have also come to testify; they have been coming up, to explain their experience.”
’Grasscutter farming has made me a multi-millionaire’
“I decided to suspend my academic quest to start grass-cutter farming after completing my Master’s degree in Political Science because I saw some people in my department spending over seven years to acquire doctorate degrees and still struggled to find jobs,” Mr. Chinedu Eluwa told Sunday Telegraph.
Chinedu’s case is a typical example of what many Nigerian graduates go through in searching for jobs after spending years and resources in acquiring university education. He subsequently decided to suspend his quest for a doctorate degree to go into grass cutter farming in Chinedu hails from Awo- Omamma in Oru-East Local Government Area in Imo State.
After graduating with Political Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State in 2018 he went for his M.Sc. also in Political Science at the Madonna University, Okija in Anambra State which he finished in 2014. Once he completed his masters he initially toyed with the idea of securing an office job while he did his doctorate.
But after failing to set a decent job he opted to concentrate on his animal husbandry full time when he became fed up. He explained: “I decided I would be better off if I invest those years trying to secure a doctorate degree growing my grass-cutter farming business, and I haven’t regretted that decision. Yes, I will someday go back for my doctorate degree but not now. I need to spread this gospel of self-reliance so that more youths can take a cue from me. “I want them to see and use me as an example that an individual can start from where he is, with what he has, to where he/she wants to be.
To start a grasscutter farm, you need one colony that comprises one male and four females for N79,000 to breed, cages, drinking and feeding trough, supplementary feed and a farm house, these are the basic needs. “A four decker cage can cost between N50, 000 to N150, 000 depending on the location and welder.
Drinking and feeding trough sell for N1, 000 apiece. Pelletized supplementary feed goes for N250 per kilogramme and for the farm house, an empty room in your house can be used to start off.” The interest to venture into grasscutter farming developed when he visited Ibadan to attend a one-day seminar on the in 2011 after failing to laud a decent job.
“When I first saw them at Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan (FRIN), I realised that not many people were into the business and as such, I could be amongst the leaders in the industry if I started on time.
“Today, I thank God that I have made a big mark in the industry. Today, not only am I the first National President of the Grasscutter Farmers Association in Nigeria (GRAFAN), I am also the Chairman, Board of Trustees,” he enthused.
When he first started the business on March 20, 2012, it was like a hobby, he said: “Sincerely speaking, I didn’t take the time to document my earnings until last year because all along it was more like a hobby to me. From January to November 16, 2016, which coincided with my birthday, I generated over N12, 510, 000 selling breeding stocks, my e-book and my coaching programmes.
“When I came into the business, I didn’t calculate what the industry was worth. What I calculated was the number of people that will go through me as the gateman into the mine to mine the gold I discovered.
But today, the grasscutter farming industry is worth over N1billion bearing in mind that there are only four countries actively involved in the domestication of grasscutters – Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo.” Speaking on his challenges,
Eluwa said: “We know that the cost of purchasing breeding stock is quite high which is why we are currently working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to access the Anchor Borrower Programme so that our members can get breeding stocks at reduced prices. “The uniqueness of this rodent stems from the fact that it has no religious or cultural discrimination against it.
Both Christians and Muslims consume grasscutters which is a delicacy any day anytime. Grasscutters are doctors’ recommended white meat. Virtually all our health conscious senior citizens have switched to white meat. Imagine the joy of having your own steady supply of white meat at your backyard. “Profits from breeding and selling grasscutters are fascinating. Imagine selling five rodents for N79, 000 when they are less than 2kg. They make good companions.
The value chain of grasscutter provides employment to all participants.” The Director of Research Planning and Protocol of GRAFAN, Mr. Peter Akparanta, enumerated what a young breeder may likely encounter and suggested ways that the government can support Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs).
He said: “SMEs in Nigeria do not have easy access to funds to scale their businesses causing them to stagnate and die or remain perpetually small. Also, it lacks adequate trainings to grow their businesses. Most of them can’t afford these trainings and they are also challenged with adequate and proper staffing.
“The government is trying, but they can do more. Knowing full well that small businesses form the bulk of enterprises in our society, they should bear the responsibility of ensuring that small businesses succeed so that they can keep the money and jobs flowing.”
Akparanta, who is also the editor of the Nigerian Yellow Pages, added: “Government needs to create and run more free business trainings and encourage the SME’s to go through these trainings. They should make certificates from these seminars collaterals for accessing customised individual SME loans. Government needs to seriously encourage small businesses to access funds to scale their businesses.”
According to him, the market is huge in the sense that people want grasscutters, “But the market is not coordinated and that is what we have come to achieve, saying that people need to know where to go to, when they need grasscutter meat.”
Akparanta, who has been in the business for a very long time, also warned of its health hazards for those that patronise road side grasscutter sellers. “There is the problem of buying from the roadside; it is not hygienic, it is not properly processed, it could be deadlier in the body than you think, but because people need it, they still go for it anyway.
“So we are doing something that can be scientifically accepted, hygienically prepared, trying to produce what people can be sure of. We want to provide more viable and important alternative, how it is properly processed and then create awareness. The market is there but the market does not know where to go for it.
So, we want the market to know where we are. “Grass-cutter is a popular delicacy in Nigeria, apart from its popularity as a delicacy in Nigeria amongst all the rodents that are domesticated, grass cutter stands as the most profitable.
Now imagine where you sell a male and four female grasscutters for N79, 000 per colony after three months for female and four months for male. I don’t think there is any rodent that is sold at that price. “Apart from it being a popular delicacy, which we locally know as bush meat, it is the most profitable rodent that is being domesticated in Nigeria and West Africa.”
Mr. Peter Adegoke, who is GRAFAN’s National Treasurer, spoke on the sheer size of the value chain: “We want to grow, process and export, there is value gain to it. The skin is also something that is highly in demand in the market, the skin and bones are raw materials for other pharmaceutical products. It can be processed into all these chains of products like shoes, bags and other leather items.”
Fuel: Essential but still scarce in many states
- Motorists lament spending more money, time at filling stations
The fuel situation in Nigeria has not improved significantly following the latest round of scarcity. Where petrol is available, motorists spend more money and time at filling stations to get the product. In this story, our correspondents looked at the situation across the country and why this is not likely to change soon.
For motorists and communities in Rivers State, especially in Port Harcourt, the unending fuel scarcity is one situation they want the Federal Government to resolve. In most parts of Port Harcourt, the few filling stations that have fuel sell above N200 per litre, while the ones outside Port Harcourt, specifically the areas along Owerri Road sell at N190. To Port Harcourt residents, the most worrying part is that NNPC mega stations that used to serve as the last reprieve during scarcity are no longer reliable. Yet, motorists line up their vehicles in the hope that they will sell later. Due to the prolonged scarcity, transport fare that shot up at least 50 percent has refused to drop, causing a slight increase in the prices of goods.
In Delta State shortage of petrol and arbitrary pump price increase of the product have persisted. Although, motorists are no longer forced into long queues at filling stations, most of the major marketers, including Oando, Total and some NNPC outlets, within Asaba metropolis, have been under lock and key since the beginning of the year. Apart from the Northwest Petrol Station and the NNPC Mega Station along the ever-busy Asaba – Onitsha Expressway that are selling at the official price of N145, all others, have not remained at between N160 and N180. At the popular Okpanam road in Asaba, the two outlets of the NNPC were locked, except for the Rainoil Filling Stations that reverted to official price three days ago. The situation had made the cost of living within Asaba and its environs higher as transport fares have gone up thereby affecting the prices of commodities in market.
Since the menace of the scarcity of petroleum products resurfaced about three months ago, the situation in Kaduna State had remained static and even deteriorating. In Kaduna metropolis, the major marketers still sell at the controlled price of N145 per litre, that is anytime the product is available and they decided not to sell to the black marketers at night. However on the outskirts of the town, the price goes between N180 and N200 per litre. While the product is always available on the outskirts, the stations only sell late at night and in the early hours of the morning allegedly agreed between them and the Department of Petroleum Resources, (DPR) who will not, come around to monitor at such hours. However the black marketers who are always in stock and dots all corners of the metropolis sell their products for N300 per litre.
The people have no option but to patronise the black marketers who our correspondent gathered are given preferential treatment at some filing stations even before selling to other motorists. This is because even when the product is available, motorists spend not less than five to six hours on the queue depending on the station. The situation has led to increase in transportation fares with its attendant hike in food prices.
Tansport fare that hitherto cost between N70 and 80 is now between 150 and 170 depending on the driver and your bargaining power. Narrating his experience in one of the filling stations Mallam Alabelewe Abdul said: “After wasting my five productive hours, they claimed that the fuel had finished. Meanwhile, they deliberately used only one pump out of the six just to make people suffer on the queue and appear as if they have sold the fuel for a long period. “As if that was not enough, they were selling for people who were not on the queue, people were just jumping the queue from all over and they were collecting bribe of N500 to sell to those not on the queue.
Fuel Scarcity continues to bite harder in Kano, with hundreds of motorists sleeping over at various filling stations, while a gallon is now sells for over N200. Most of the filling stations are permanently locked up while at their gates black marketers are seen operating with ease and making a kill. Global Aron, Azman, Oando, Total and many other filling stations are notorious for not selling fuel in Kano while black marketers take over their gates and operating without any hindrance.
The State Chairman of Independent Marketers Bashir Danmallam denied knowledge of any of its member involvement in fuel racketeering, saying the problems they are facing from the NNPC who refuses to supply the products to them. However, most motorists believe that there is a connivance between the marketers and the enforcing agency, DPR, who seems to be lax in their operations while within the city many stations stay locked for days with fuel while others sell at over 250 naira. Sani Dauda a motorist who told our correspondent that his car stayed overnight at AA Rano filling station for days to get the fuel, frowned at the difficult situation they found themselves today in Nigeria. Another Motorist, Ibrahim Garba, said he is faced with the challenge of staying overnight at a filling station to buy at over 200 or he buy from the black market with the attendant fear of the fuel being adulterated.
Scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, persisted in Akure, Ondo State capital, with most of the filling stations in the town selling above the official pump price. The fuel scarcity which lasted through the Christmas and New Year celebrations has not subsided as most of the major marketers in the state did not open for business, while the independent marketers that opened sell above the pump price. A litre of PMS is being sold between N180 and N200 per litre while some major marketers who have fuel were being forced to sell fuel at normal price by the task force put in place by the state government Most dealers did not comply with the directives of the state task force not to sell above the pump price despite the threat to shut down fuel stations that refused to sell the product.
It was discovered that most of the fuel dealers had stock but sell at night to maximise profit and avoid the wrath of the task force put in place by the state government to sell the product A commercial driver, Bolaji Ajiboye, said most of the dealers refused to sell the product while some increase the pump price “without the fear of God.”
He said: “We have been buying the product between N170 and N200 per litre since December. We noticed that some dealers are behind the scarcity and are enjoying it. “Most of them have the product and are selling it in the middle of the night at rate higher than the normal price. “Commuters have been lamenting because of the increase in the fare and we cannot be charging less because we are buying the product at high prices. “We want to appeal to the state government to compel all the fuel stations to sell the product at the official pump price and stop hoarding the product. We have been suffering in silence.”
In Aba the commercial hub of the South Eastern Nigeria fuel price is unstable as some fuel stations within the metropolitan area sold at N190 per litre while some others within the suburbs sell at N187 per litre. The queues witnessed during the festive period is no longer there. Petroleum products are not scare as every petrol station visited were selling to customers on time. Meanwhile, prices of goods and transportation have remained permanently high as they were during the festive period.
In Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, there is a decline of the price of fuel. In most of the petrol stations, fuel now sell at N200 per litre as against the earlier prices of between N250 and N300 per pump price. However, government owned stations, NNPC mega stations sell at N145 government regulated price, but it is very difficult to access due the unending queues at the stations. Motorists, and travellers, prefer to buy the product at the conventional filling station, despite high hike.
The hike, according to Saturday Telegraph has not affected the prices of commodities so much as price of rice per measurement is sold at between N600 and N650. Commercial transportation particularly by the motorcycles known as Okada now charge N80 to N100 per drop while the tricyclists known as Keke NAPEP charge N100 as flat rate irrespective of destination.
Some of the filling station managers told Saturday Telegraph that the reason for the hike was because of the unavailability of the product at the deport, as they have to get the product through black market to keep their business afloat. Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has said it will continue to track down filling stations who are selling fuel above the regulated pump price. The Kogi State controller of the department, Engineer, Amos Jekodeola, told Saturday Telegraph that the department has sealed and penalised some defaulting petrol stations for the offences of hike in price and hoarding.
Barely three weeks to Christmas celebration motorists in Katsina State started experiencing fuel security in and around the state, a situation that persisted up to today. The situation is worst especially in the state capital and major towns. For instance in the state capital when the situation of fuel scarcity persisted, the state government constituted a task force to help ease the situation for the motorists, but it has not improved as people spend between eight and 12 hours on queue before getting the commodity when available at the few filling stations that sell at the government control price of N145. But some stations will lock up on the pretext of exhausting the supply only to sell late at night to black marketers. The price range of the product in Katsina varies from N220, N215, N205 to N200 per litre. The situation has affected prices of goods like foodstuff and services, such as hike in prices charged by Okada riders, inter and intra state transport fares among others.
The product is available at both filing stations and black markets. When Saturday Telegraph visited many filing stations in Abakaliki, the state capital, no long queues were observed. However, the product is still sold at high price. A litre of fuel is currently sold between N185 and N200 in filing stations while it is sold between N250 and N280 in black markets. At the NNPC mega station, it is sold at N145 but there is always a long queue.
The current fuel scarcity in Plateau State where people spend long hours at filling stations has triggered hike in the prices of food items in Jos the state capital as traders attributed the rise to the high cost of transportation. Saturday Telegraph visit to the popular Terminus and Farin Gada markets indicates that the price increase started as the fuel scarcity became more serious a few days ago. At Farin Gada market, a basket of tomatoes which previously sold for N1500 few days five days ago now goes for N2,000 while a bag of red pepper goes for N10,000, compared to its previous price of N5,500 per basket.
Similarly, a bag of Irish Potatoes increased from N10, 000 to N16, 000 while a bag of onions, which was previously sold between N10,000 and N15,000 now goes for between N20,000 and N25,000, depending on the size. Some of the food items supplied from the villages have equally gone up in price as result of the fuel scarcity which also affected the cost of transporting the produce from the villages to the markets. Items such carrots, cabbage and vegetables amongst other are affected. Abdullahi Ahmed, a tomatoes and onions seller in Jos, said prices increased because suppliers had to factor in the cost and stress of getting fuel from filling stations. Saturday Telegraph reports that food items such as maize, beans, Irish potatoes, rice pepper, onion, tomatoes and others have also become more expensive in Jos.
However most filling stations around Jos, the Plateau State capital, doesn’t have the product, only a few sell at high prices of between N200 and N250 per litre while the only NNPC Mega station along Yakubu Gowon Way which sells at the government approved price has long queues of cars from National Library Junction to Dogon Karfe.
Scarcity of fuel in Osun State has become a forgone issue but the price of the essential commodity still remains high as it is being sold for N200 per litre in the state as against the N145 official pump price. There is no filling station in the state where the commodity is being sold for N145 except all Bovas filling stations where people get it for N143. Virtually all filling stations owned by major and independent marketers in the state are selling beyond the official pump price.
Occasionally, Mobil filling station at Okefia sell at N145 per litre while others sell for N200 and above. As a result of this development, there is no queue of vehicles in the filling stations as motorists and motorcyclists move into the filling stations with ease to get their fuel. However, long queues are usually witnessed at Bovas and NNPC filling stations in the state as a result of motorists scrambling to get the essential commodity. One of the motorists who identified himself as Adeyemi Adebisi complained bitterly about the unbearable hike in price of fuel but said he said: “We have to thank God for still having it even if hoarded.”
In Niger state, there are still queues at the NNPC Mega filling station with a few major marketers selling the products in Minna. Saturday Telegraph gathered that the pump price is normal as people buy fuel at the rate of N143 at the NNPC Mega filling station and N145 in almost other filling stations. When our correspondent went round the major petrol stations in Minna metropolis, commuters and residents said there seems to be no end in sight with the situation.
A commuter, Mustapha Bina, told our correspondent that there is even no money let alone to spend on buying fuel. According to him: “I bought fuel once at night from black marketers for N195 per litre because I cannot join the long queues at NNPC, Total or Oando filling stations. Those who wait spend at least three to four hours.”
When our Correspondent spoke to the state Chairman, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), Alhaji Adamu Erena, he said there is no need to panic and that their members sell products that are available. Findings at the NNPC Mega filing station show that fuel is sold at N143 with decorum as security men are well positioned to ensure orderliness. The manager, Alhaji Salla Ibrahim, said: “We sell petrol at N143. I can only urge them to join the queue and be orderly because we start early and close late every day.”
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