Nigeria faces cash, fuel crises
ABUJA. – Petrol shortages, chaos at banks, in addition to insecurity and the chronic lack of water and electricity, have added to the plight of many in Nigeria.
Muhammed Bazza has been queueing for petrol under the blazing sun for four hours, while Alexander Okwori has spent the last two waiting at a cash dispenser.
And these days Awolowo, a main commercial road of Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of 20 million people, is constantly blocked by traffic jams worsened by the waits for fuel, spelling further misery for residents.
From north to south, the country of about 215 million people is facing a cunjunction of crises.
It’s a volatile mix as Nigeria gears up for presidential and general elections next month, with President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down after the two terms allowed by the constitution.
Bazza said he had woken up at 4:30 am to try to avoid the petrol queues, but it didn’t work — Shortly after 10 am, and just 10 metres from the petrol pump, he was told to leave.
While Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest crude oil producers, it has almost no refining capacity and must import fuel from Europe and elsewhere.
On the other side of the road, fifty or so people are huddled outside a bank, with more people continuously joining the crowd.
Like everyone else, Alexander Okwori is trying to get his hands on new bank notes unveiled last October to replace the old naira, with a January 31 deadline to make the swap.
But days before the deadline, only a few banks were distributing the new notes, leaving many Nigerians, who are overwhelmingly poor and without bank accounts, without access to cash. – AFP