Nigeria mobile giant may stop service over fuel crisis


The fuel crisis has festered for several weeks with no solution in sight

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS – Nigeria’s major mobile telephone network provider may have to shut down its services if ongoing fuel shortage in the country does not ease.

“Most of our base stations and switches are powered round the clock by diesel generators and the current fuel shortage has drastically reduced the availability of diesel supply to key stations,” MTN said in a statement.

“MTN’s available reserves of diesel are running low and the company must source for a significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria,” it added.

“If diesel supplies are not received within the next 24 hours the network will he seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact,” warned the provider.

The Nigerian fuel crisis, precipitated by several factors including government’s alleged failure to pay debts owed oil marketers, has festered for several weeks and no solution seems to be in sight.

The finance and petroleum ministers are due to appear before parliament on Monday to discuss the crisis.

The finance minister has, however, accused the marketers of deliberately blackmailing the government, insisting that no payment will be made until the marketers’ claims are verified by all stakeholders to be correct.

It is feared that major labor unions may soon declare a nationwide strike if the government does not resolve the fuel crisis in the next days as the economy gradually grinds to a halt.

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari All Progressive Congress (APC) on Sunday accused outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan of “handing over a nation in deep crisis.”

It accused the government of contriving the fuel crisis to wrong foot the incoming administration.

Buhari, a former military ruler, defeated Jonathan in March presidential polls.

His electoral victory was a watershed in Nigeria’s political history, as he became the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent in a presidential election.

Buhari’s APC now controls 22 out of Nigeria’s 36 states. It also has the majority in both houses of parliament.

Jonathan is due to hand over power to Buhari at a ceremony on May 29.