Chronic fuel scarcity in the country has brought phone firms, banks and flights to a standstill on Monday, just four days before the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration as president of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil exporter.
Besides airlines, which could not obtain aviation fuel, phone companies such MTN and domestic banks ground to a halt because the private generators that produce most of Nigeria’s electricity ran out of fuel.
“Services are already degraded and some of our customers are already feeling the impact,” MTN spokeswoman, Funmilayo Onajide, said.
Even though it is Africa’s biggest crude producer, Nigeria has to import nearly all its fuel due to old or inadequate refineries. Fuel importers say they are owed money by the government and have shut depots to press their case.
Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala denied this was the case, telling reporters the government had not failed to pay importers and adding they had received money as part of an agreed plan of rolling instalments.
Buhari, a former military ruler who last month became the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president in Nigeria, will be installed as head of state on Friday.
Besides MTN, Abu Dhabi-listed telecoms firm Etisalat also reported disruption.
A number of banks including Fidelity Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank and Union Bank of Nigeria shut branches early.
An email made available to Nigeria Pilot by the fidelity bank says: “Please understand that this is an energy saving measure intended to ensure we are able to power up our branches for a sufficient period of time each day to attend to your banking needs in view of the persistent diesel shortage.
All electronic channels and services however, will remain available all through the day for your banking needs.”
Many travellers were also braced for long delays after airline Arik was forced to ground a number of domestic flights at the weekend and rival carrier Aero said its flights would not operate regularly.

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