For a while now the non-availability of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has become part of our daily lives, and as always Nigerians are adapting to this new life without questions and just moving on. Oh how I miss the real comrades who would call everyone out to march against this harsh, unbearable cruelty against the people! Alas the comrades have ditched the brown khakis for the black suits.
“If you don’t sell for me now I will close down this station,” a hoarse voice threatens and leaves immediately only to be back a few minutes later with a band of young men wielding bottles and demanding to be serviced, indifferent to the fact that some of us had been on the queue for hours. Just as I was close to the pump, a loud bang was heard. I looked over and noticed a group of six or so young able-bodied men with shopping carts headed for the pump. The carts weren’t filled with the usual groceries, but to my utter amazement, giant black jerry cans.
I also noticed another group of men, without jerry cans, who I assumed were at the petrol station to confirm the product availability and then send word back to others to come over with their own shopping carts and jerry cans. What ensued is what I can only describe as an utter state of lawlessness. In my mind, I calculated the quickest exist from the station as I anticipated a bloody end. I saw organised indiscipline of the highest order – even the law enforcement agent could only appeal to them to help him “arrange” some fuel for him.
The manager and his sales men began to attend to the Lords of the moment, often upset, and bouncing all the time like a boxing match was on, with the petrol station as their ring, and us the helpless lot on the queue for hours as their audience. The jerry cans formed a long queue and no motorist was allowed to buy, the Lords of the gas station had a glorious time, enjoying the priority status with reckless abandon.
I thought to myself, “Well Ada since you’ve been here, why don’t you also ask them to help “arrange” you. After all, if you can’t beat them, join them!” I approached the guy who seemed to be visibly in charge and I began, “Oga abeg make you help me naw!” He seemed not to hear me, as other voices were high. I tapped him on the shoulder and he aggressively turned around. In a harsh, husky voice, red eyes searching from face to face, he screamed “Na who tosh me” WHO TOUCHED ME! My hand was still hanging midair and all eyes were looking at me. He starred hard, “Madam! Na Wetin?” A lump formed in my throat and I thought I could barely manage a whisper as I was expecting a slap across my face. Somehow I summoned the courage and shouted “Oga I wan fuel ooh, abeg help me naw.”
“Madam so na you tosh me and you no wan talk.” I replied, “Yes na me.” “Okay madam if you want fuel bring your keg but you go pay two hundred NAIRA ooh if I sell inside keg for you.” I queried with a loud WHY? “Why should I pay extra oh like bribe before I get fuel?” He just roared out in a loud laugh, turning to people around, as if the lines to be delivered needed an audience “Hahahahahaha she dey ask why? Make she go ask government why dem no gree bring fuel, dey here dey ask me why! Abeg madam why! no spoil market for me ooh, comot make I sell for people wey wan buy.” I then felt a push and was tossed to one side.
At this point, I decided to inquire from the manager of the petrol station if there was any plan to sell to the cars on the queue. His reply was “Ma, am not sure ooh because very soon, we will run out of product”. “So how are we going to get fuel, you mean we have just waited in vain?” He smiled and said “Madam see them here refilling. In no time they will be right in front of station selling in both small and big kegs so I advice you look for one of them who will sell to you.”
My jaw dropped! BLACK MARKET!!! So this is well planned and executed job by the petrol station attendants and the Lords of Lawlessness. So orderly, disciplined and responsible citizens queuing for hours get harassed out of the way to make way for Lords of Lawlessness who buy up all the fuel and move to the streets to sell to citizens at more than double the price. My mind screamed daylight robbery.
Is there mass outrage? No. I am glad the comrades don’t have our time anymore. They must have realized there is no point fighting for people who are happy SUFFERING AND SMILING.
Till I write again, I love you for reading.