It is sad to note that Nigeria is the only country in the world that I know as an oil-rich nation, which relies on other countries to produce its white products in exchange for its crude. A system that runs on rent, patronage, the rule of the thumb, and without consequence management to sanction breaches of regulations and laws cannot decide to run on autopilot and not crash. The younger generation born in 1998 upward won’t know that having off-spec, offensive, and mephitic smell first surfaced in 1997 during the era of General Sani Abacha. Nigerians whose cars were damaged became the victims.
In February 2008, under a democratically elected government of the Late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, 33,000 metric tons of gasoline found their way into Nigeria through imported Gunvor International BV Amsterdam of Switzerland. OandO was allegedly fingered as the culprit. After investigations, the fuel was said to have contained ethanol. In that incident, cars were damaged, and only God knows the health hazards and consequences to those who came in direct contact with the product. Again, Nigerians bore the pains of the damages. In July 2020, theguardian.com reported that the “kpo fire” refineries in the hidden creeks of the Niger Delta, which uses stolen crude as their feedstock, is of a higher quality than the ‘dirtier’, low-quality fuel imported from European countries. Sadly, the sulfur content of diesel was said to be 150% and 40% gasoline contents higher than acceptable European limits.
Those who should know kept mute, turned blind eyes, and vehemently denied the Guardian publication. When a dog wants to die, it does not hear the hunter’s whistle. Internally, the conspiracy and motivations were too attractive to stop the illicit deals. The guys refuse to quit. But for the damages to cars in January/February 2022 under President Buhari, the importers would have dumped the toxic fuel on Nigeria, vamoosed, and smiled to their banks in trillions of dollars in blood money. It is an unfortunate trajectory that right from Abacha’s time to date, Nigeria has been a constant destination for off-spec, toxic, and dirty-fuel containing either sulfur, ethanol, methanol in high quantities unacceptable anywhere in Europe. Again, many Nigerians will bear the cost of this avoidable disaster.
The report in the 2020 theguardian.com would have been a wake-up call for us to investigate and ban the culprits from doing business in Nigeria. That perhaps would have averted the avoidable 2022 dirty fuel saga, thereby saving the lives and the cars of Nigerians. Fellow countrymen and women now know why the government-owned refineries have not worked. It is more of a conspiracy by the game and grandmasters to completely cripple Nigeria to make it subservient to those controlling the world’s economy.
We were told that falling into the same pit twice was stupidity in our younger days. It took Nigeria twenty-one years from the OGIC in 2000 to reform a critical sector like oil and gas. It is now twenty-five years since the first toxic fuel surfaced in Nigeria during Abacha time, and we are still counting. It is indeed insanity to repeat the same processes over and over again with disastrous outcomes yet continue to follow the same pathways and expect positive optimum results. On the latest dirty fuel, the government should, as a start, implement the PIA transition programs on the ‘Authority’ and the ‘Commission’ for clarity of processes and the implementation of the PIA’s regulatory procedures to save Nigeria further embarrassment. Secondly, stop the importation of fuel from the countries that take us for a ride, persistently damaging our cars and health. Thirdly, the administration should not play politics with the PIA by carrying over fuel importation, fuel subsidy, deregulation of the downstream into the next election. It must deal with the malaise without looking back. Fourthly, the time has come to tell Nigerians the nature of our subsidy that does not protect the poorest of the poor.
As we speak, food prices are escalating; house rents are excruciatingly hurting, inflation and unemployment are hitting the roof. Refining our crude means the local production of fuel, lubricants, paraffin wax, petroleum coke, asphalt, petrochemicals, Propane, Sulfur, etc. Playing in the crude extraction and production value chain will create employment opportunities in Nigeria against the shipping of employment to those importing finished products into Nigeria. May God open our eyes to see the damages done to Nigeria and Nigerians with the injection of dirty fuel on the country time and time again. Grace and peace!!!