In Nigeria and virtually all over the world, the month of December is usually heralded with a profound sense of tranquility associated with the yuletide season. As a harbinger of a new year with the attendant hope for a better life, December is usually considered a period of celebration devoid of the stress and anxiety which might have characterised the earlier part of the year.
It is in December that most corporate organisations decide to close their accounts and reward their staff, shareholders and customers for a good performance in the course of the year. For manufacturers of household goods including promoters of small-scale businesses, December is usually a period of bumper harvest as families make last-minute purchases to celebrate the end of the year.
Unfortunately, the prevailing fuel scarcity in the country has turned the 2022 yuletide season into a period of extreme anguish and pain for Nigerians who are left at the mercy of the twin problem of rising insecurity and devastating fuel scarcity.
Expectedly, costs of living have shot up, raising the spectre of a higher inflation rate for the month of December.
In Lagos, with its attendant infrastructural gaps, transport fares are becoming prohibitive as well as the cost of food and other essential items, and ditto for other urban areas as movements are painfully curtailed.
Sociologists fear that as families find it increasingly difficult to cope with the rising cost of living, crime rates may be on the increase as people become confined, frustrated and hopeless.
It is indeed a period when car owners have to keep vigil at fuel stations, which are dotted with endless queues as many fuel stations could not dispense the products as a result of disruptions in the supply chain. This has led the marketers to the choice of waiting for supply from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited or to source the product from alternative markets.
For almost a month now, relying on the NNPCL for supply is like waiting for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of the needle as most of NNPCL fuel depots are empty. The only alternative is to go elsewhere where fuel is sold far above the target prices. This has resulted in a hike in transportation costs and the loss of man-hours by businesses, particularly those within the transportation sector who have to wait for long hours to get the product.