Fuel scarcity

Not to sound cliché or anything but for every situation that seems like a terrible one, there is always a bunch of people or even one person milking it. When life does not give you lemons, you had better still make lemonades, is the theme these people go by. For those that are religious, even the bible says in Romans 5: 3 – 4 “We can rejoice when we run into problems they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” So do not be surprised that things other than negativity can come from this petrol scarcity.

Nigeria is no stranger to a fuel crisis. Despite being Africa’s largest oil producer, we have had massive fuel shortages which have nearly paralyzed the country. Long queues have become the norm, and crowds of people have to push their way through petrol stations with jerry cans in hand. Fuel is used by a large percentage of Nigerians; in their vehicles and to power generators for homes and businesses because of the challenge of electricity daily faced.

Ever since the petrol scarcity started at the beginning of the year, local news agencies, practically every day have reported something or the other on the situation. It is either; one body or person is VOWING to Nigerian citizens that the situation would end soon, or that there are new developments in the story. People are tired, saying this suffering is too much. But there is always a silver lining.

Here are five positive things that have come out of the fuel scarcity brouhaha:

1. Patience: How patient Nigerians have somewhat become in the past few months cannot be overemphasized. Everyone knows Nigerians are not the most patient people in the world. Nigerians living in Nigeria know that the patient dog does not eat the fattest bone in Nigeria. Without trying to stereotype, it is true that a large number of Nigerians are impatient. We are always in a hurry and hate every form of sluggishness or laziness. You have to be a sharp guy, always on the look-out and protecting yourself from being swindled. Shine your eye is a common phrase used to term this. But these days, especially since one normally has to wait on fuel queues before you can buy fuel, Nigerians have become more forbearing and more patient with one another.

That is not to say that, we are not on watch when someone wants to jump a queue. Nigerians are still as sharp as ever. However, Nigerians now have the ability to wait or to continue doing something despite difficulties whether on fuel queue or other activities.

2. Creativity: Creativity is at its peak at this period. It seems creativity is flowing in the air. Articles and illustrations about the fuel scarcity are turning up at every corner. Particularly, one positive thing that comes from this creativity is the fuel app which is to be launched by a 23 year old Subomi Owo-Odusi – he is literally taking the Nigerian fuel crisis into his own hands and starting a business that will deliver fuel straight to users in Lagos. After downloading the app, users will be able to touch a “Get FueledUp” button, which shows the price per litre. Then, the user enters how much fuel they need, vehicle information and choose a delivery time frame.

3. Less Television: How can less television be a positive benefit of the fuel scarcity? Many ways. It’s probably even helping you but you fail to realize it. While television is good in that it is a source of entertainment and information, it is a distraction and we have to admit this. It often distracts us from doing all the things we need to do. Sometimes, and I know this happens to a lot of people, you pick up a book to start reading. Then you say, ‘let me check what they’re doing on television’. You turn on your television, flip through the channels, get stuck on something you love, and are unable to go back to the book, like ever. It happens, we get stuck on Trace, Telemundo, African Magic and even news stations for hours when we have fuel powering our generators or electricity.

Since we’re hardly getting fuel, and the little fuel we get is saved for more important things, we are watching lesser and lesser television. A wife is barely complaining that her husband is watching too much ESPN or CNN and not spending quality time with her. Teens are hardly complaining that their mothers are watching African magic and telemundo and not allowing them to watch their favourite shows. Mothers are not complaining that their children are watching too much television and barely studying. Basically, what I’m trying to say is the positive effect of fuel scarcity from less television is:
– More time to study, all kinds of studying that needs to be done.
– More time to read books, novels and newspapers.
– More time to spend with your family even if it might be in the heat and darkness of your parlour
– More time to appreciate nature’s endowments. You’re possibly spending more time in the fresh air by sitting outside your apartment or taking a walk but if there was light, you’d be watching a television show.

4. Employment benefits: As illegal as it is, black market operators have seized the opportunity of this raging fuel scarcity to make some profit. They stand on roadsides with their jerry cans selling petrol for ridiculous amounts of money. While for those of us on the receiving end, it is bizarre and crazy and will not be indulged by lots of Nigerians, a lot of others are benefiting from not having to wait on queues to buy fuel. It’s mostly a two way thing for those patronizing the black market operators even though the customers pay a higher price than that obtained in the filling station and there is the possibility of the fuel to have been mixed with other kerosene or other substance. Nevertheless, it is a positive thing for those who do not have jobs and have to somehow make ends meet.

5. Public transportation and Okada men make more money: Novelist and Lawyer, Ayo Sogunro recently tweeted: ‘Last few weeks, I have adopted bike, bus and foot. My car: parked with half-tank. Can’t risk having no fuel in an emergency’. We agree with him. These are perilous times. No jokes.

No one wants an emergency situation and not having fuel at that particular time. Hence a lot people are resorting to bikes and public transportation to arrive at their destinations on time when they are trying to save up the little fuel in their car. This is very wise. Bike men now transport people to far distances, hence making more money. People who ordinarily do not resort to public transport have to enter public transportation, thus giving the drivers more profit. This leads us to the 6th benefit.

6. Healthier decisions: Traffic has been terrible in most parts of Nigeria. Where one is faced with this fuel crisis induced traffic and has to get to a certain place on time, the likely option might be to walk. Cab fares are hiked, bus fares are sometimes hiked, you do not want to spend too much money, I mean, the economy in itself is bad, and your car might not have fuel, so you walk. This is a healthy decision that a lot of us are now being forced to take. Previously many of us found it difficult to walk any distance; no matter how short but now, that is the option we might have found ourselves with. It has been disclosed that over 1.6 million Nigerians are living with type 2 form diabetes. On World Health Day the World Health Organization urged people to live healthier lifestyles to prevent diabetes. Walking is a form of exercise that may prevent it. With more people walking, no matter how tiring it gets, it seems the Fuel Scarcity has done something positive.

Author: Ope Adedeji