• Nigeria in crisis as handover looms


    LAGOS: Nigeria’s opposition on Sunday accused outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan of leaving a country in crisis, as fuel shortages brought the nation to a standstill just days from Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration.

    Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) highlighted record lows in electricity production, multiple strikes and billions of dollars in unpaid debts, suggesting Jonathan’s government was deliberately leaving the country in a mess.

    “Never in the history of our country has any government handed over to another a more distressed country,” APC spokesman Lai Mohammed said in an emailed statement.

    “No electricity, no fuel, workers are on strike, billions are owed to state and federal workers, $60 billion (is) owed in national debt and the economy is virtually grounded,” he added.

    Buhari won Nigeria’s first-ever opposition victory in March 28 elections and is set to take over as head of state of Africa’s most populous nation, leading economy and top oil producer this Friday.

    But as he does so, a weeks-long crisis over controversial fuel subsidies has left homes without electricity, cars without petrol and businesses virtually ground to a halt.

    Businesses hit
    Telecoms firms, whose base stations and switches rely on generators for power because of poor to non-existent grid supply, say they may not be able to maintain their networks for much longer without fresh fuel stocks.

    MTN Nigeria, the country’s biggest mobile operator with more than 55 million subscribers, said on Saturday it needed a “significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria”.

    In aviation, domestic services were grounded and planes on international routes forced to divert to pick up aviation fuel.

    At least three Nigerian radio stations have gone off the air to ration fuel that powers its generators. Some schools have brought forward half-term holidays.

    One user on Twitter posted a sign from his church saying it had merged Yoruba-language and English services because of the shortages.

    “Don’t bother to bring your (phone) charger to church, we have disconnected all the plugs,” read the note, which was signed: “Yours in Christ.”

    Fuel crisis
    OPEC-member Nigeria produces some two million barrels of oil per day but has no functioning refineries and is forced to import crude products such as petrol and diesel.

    The government keeps fuel at below market price at the pumps, paying the difference to importers in a system the government says is riddled with corruption.



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