Written by Kayode Okikiolu

The time was 8pm, just 2 days to Christmas and I was about 6 cars, 10 motorcycles and 20 jerrycans away from the fuel pump of a certain filling station. My hopes of getting petrol was rapidly diminishing mainly because the place had become rowdy. People were crowded around the pump almost the same way bees would violently converge on an object of interest.

If you’re a Nigerian, this is no big deal. Fuel scarcity has earned the right to be classified as a season alongside Dry and Rainy.

Please Note: The account I’m about to share is not just about fuel scarcity, it is about the scarcity of something much more important.

About 5 cars ahead of me, there sat a young man whom I know well. He was one of the few that got word early enough about the possibility of getting fuel at the filling station. He waited for such a long time that we had to wake him up to move closer to the pump. He was tired and possibly under the weather too. I was happy to see him after years and I believe he was too. We went over the customary “this country na wa o” discussion and afterwards he offered to help me get fuel in a jerrycan since I was way behind him. But when I saw the community of jerrycans in his car, I politely declined.

I inquired how much they were selling and he said 145 (which is the government approved price). This gave me joy, my hope in Nigeria was not a waste after all, I thought to myself.

My joy was however short-lived as I got word from people who just bought fuel. 200 was the price! Notwithstanding this unfair hike, they seemed content. They knew it could be worse.

In the meantime, it was the young man’s turn but then some people surfaced from nowhere (as usual), hustled their way through with different containers and to my utmost disgust they got fuel before us! At this point, he was getting irritated. Who wouldn’t?

I moved closer to him again to find out what was happening and he was vividly getting agitated. I asked if he was ready to pay 200 to get fuel but he muttered something that sounded like he wouldn’t pay that amount.

Fast forward to about 10 minutes later, the attendants suddenly stopped selling and turned off the lights. What happened?

Well this young man bought about 80 litres of fuel (mostly for people he offered to help) and insisted he was not going to pay 200. He caused so much of a scene that they had no choice but to stop selling. The scene quickly turned rowdy as if it was not rowdy enough with people motioning to engage the young man, in a fight!

You see, these people were like him too, they came to buy fuel. I became scared for him but he seemed confident. He challenged anyone to touch him but no one did, they just kept making threats. The ones who seemed to have intentions to engage him in a fight did not find anyone to hold their personal effects for them.

Now might be a good time to explain the situation of this filling station. It is some sort of a neighbourhood station and you see, most people there knew themselves. In fact the young man was friends with some of the attendants but for that period, their friendship had to take a seat. The once friendly community filling station had found a new love, money. And they were bent on making as much as they could in that chaos.

The time was now about 9pm, the back forth was still on and surprisingly, the young man still stood his ground! At this point, people started hitting his car and all of a sudden they opened his door and dragged the jerrycans out. These people did not mind paying 200, so like zombies they dragged their spoils to one corner and shared it in that commotion.

Everything started to spin around me, I was torn between anger, sorrow, bitterness and even fear. On one side people were crowded round the young man threatening to beat him up, in another corner some others were sharing the fuel recovered from his car, elsewhere black marketers were having a filled day bypassing the already destabilised queues and to me it seemed like a scene from a war-torn region. I saw more than I can describe in this account but this is where I am going.

In the midst of the chaos, I looked around and I realised that at least 70% of the people there were young people not older than 35 maybe. These same young people were the ones jumping queues, bribing attendants, threatening to beat the young man up and trading violent words with anyone who seemed to stand in their way.

There was so much energy present at that filling, one could almost bottle it and sell to them as fuel. However this energy was channeled wrongly in my opinion and I feel this is the general reality of Nigerian youths right now, sadly.

We have so much energy and passion but too many times we use them for the wrong reasons.

You might say the young man’s method was flawed (maybe) but I feel if everyone had come together to back him against the real problem, which is the unfair hike and disorderliness, something remarkable would have happened. Like I said earlier, this is beyond fuel scarcity or getting fuel for 145, it is about the Future of our country.

Some months ago, the Individual candidacy and Not too young to run bills were passed by the National assembly to the excitement of millions of Nigerians, mostly young people.

But that day at the filling station, a young and independent candidate ran for something very Noble and the same young people that jubilated months ago threatened to beat him up. The same people that shouted Hosanna yesterday were the same ones that wanted him crucified. He came to his own and they received him not…

Dear young reader, 2019 and indeed our whole future is around the corner and If we have not learnt from our mistakes in the past, well this is another reminder.

We hold the power to transform Nigeria into whatever we desire. We should see beyond now, we should see through all the antics and distractions. We are intelligent, we have capacity and the only force that can stop us is US!

The truth is they are scared of the power we wield so they try to distract us. I don’t know who the ‘they’ are and I honestly feel their identity does not matter much for now.

What matters is that I felt the scarcity of young people with a common sense of PURPOSE. There was a scarcity of VISION that day.

The young man drove off that night after paying for the little he was left with but to me, he was not the real loser that day.

We have made ourselves into losers for too long now, but the fact that it has always been like this does not mean it is right.

Can we just come together and make Nigeria work?

Well, Godspeed and Merry Christmas.




  1. Indeed more than scarcity befalling us. Great words of inspiration unveil down here,
    Together we can overcome our fears and build a greater Nigeria.

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