Oil tankers
Oil tankers are seen next to a fuel station in Nigeria's capital Abuja Reuters

Hundreds of Nigerians have taken to social media to comment on a statement from the minister of information, who blamed the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan for the fuel shortage the country is experiencing. Some have accused President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May after defeating Jonathan in March's presidential election, of failing to take responsibility.

The hashtag #LetsBlameGEJ is trending on Twitter after Lai Mohammed alleged Jonathan was responsible for the scarcity of fuel. Some people are using it to ridicule Mohammed's statement.

The minister of information was quoted by local media as saying on 21 December: "One of the reasons for the fuel scarcity was the inability of the last government to make adequate provision for fuel subsidy. We do face some other logistic problems but majorly, we are paying for the sins of the last administration.

"You remember that about two weeks ago, we had to go to the National Assembly for a supplementary budget of N674bn. Of that figure, N522bn was for arrears of fuel subsidy which was incurred as far back as August last year."

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, but its lack of refineries – at present there are four and of these, only three resumed production in July after months of inactivity – mean the country has to export about 90% of its crude oil and import petroleum products, including fuel.

The country then sells fuel to Nigerians at subsidised prices and reimburses the difference to importers. This practice has been condemned by many, with some arguing it could save the government billions of naira every year, which could be invested into public services. Others have pointed out oil destined for Nigeria is sold to other countries at higher prices.

In his statement, Mohammed also said the real issue was not fuel scarcity but the transportation, affected by vandalisation on pipelines and oil thefts across the country.

He said: "The issue is not non-availability of the product it is the distribution, because of pipelines that have been vandalised and the gridlock in Lagos. It takes about five days for anybody to take fuel with tanker in Lagos. As at two days ago, this matter has been resolved. The Mosinmi pipeline has been secured and it has lead to the improvement in the distribution."

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