Today, my private fuel supplier was stranded at a filling station, so I was left to fend for myself having used the last drop of my blood..sorry fuel, to power my generator last night. So I hit the the road in search of fuel. My fuel gauge began blinking as I descended the Oshodi bridge towards Oworonshoki...First rule of the search - You can't look for fuel without fuel. Which is why I wasn't surprised when an attendant at an MRS filling station announced that they couldn't sell fuel because they didn't have fuel to put in the generator to pump fuel. Only in Naija..
Back to my search- I slowed down at Oworonshoki close to Mobil filling station and had to stay on the horn to get a Black Market Executive to attend to me. There is air of importance about them these days. And he re enforced that with some arrogance as he walked up to me. (That is another thing...They don't run again.) He shot the price at me without flinching..N3500? I said 'What?' And he turned to walked away, he wasn't going to waste time with an alien. I called him back. Bros, (with respect this time, almost pleading) na 10 litres you wan sell for Three Five? Oga.that na last price. He was walking away again but I can give you for Three-Two. I said 'Lai lai'..He was already pouring the content of the jerry-can into the tank of another desperate Nigerian.
When I was able to attract the attention of another, I didn't waste time in opening my tank to put the 10 litres and paying N3500 for it.
Then I continued on my search. I finally bought additional 25 litres somewhere in Shagamu.
The queue here was short, so I parked by the fence. I was told no black market was allowed here. And I soon learnt why. Some Staff Black 'Marketeers' didn't not want competition. Another Fuel Seeker informed us we could go inside and meet the 'officer'. So I jumped the gate, as others were doing and went straight to the officer. It was not difficult to identify him. He was in a camouflaged Tshirt, wielding a military belt. I went close, told him I needed fuel but had no jerry can. He told me straight..Oga, na scratch my back, i scratched your back-o. I later discovered what he meant was, if you scratch my back, I won't scratch yours with my koboko.
I folded N500 in a way that you could scratch any part of your anatomy with and slipped it into his ready palms. If I didn't look close, I would have missed the movement as he slipped it into a leather tennis racket case he had under his shoulders.
Since i now had a jerry can registered in the qualified line, I would have left there early, but some armed policemen and Road Safety Officers came with giant jerry cans and upset the queue for more than an hour taking enough for their own small black market operations.
The yellow 25 litre jerry can I borrowed was kicked out of the queue several times but I kept bringing it back and reminding the officers respectfully that this particular container has been sorted out. I know that was just what they wanted to hear. That you have paid your bribe before paying for your fuel.That is the reason they are there.
Just like they guarded queues and extorted from the people in 1984 when Nigerians were given 3 days to CHANGE all the cash they had to a new design currency.
Finally, my turn came. I carried the fuel back to the car, I made a funnel out of an empty water bottle and poured in the fuel. The 25 litres of fuel i bought for N100 per litre. Plus a N200 'service fee' paid to the attendant.
So as I drove back, I rolled up the windows and switched on the car air- condition. At least, I could tame the hit. I don't know how long the fuel will last, but I don't care.
Nobody will succeed in making me lose my cool, except those who insist on tagging me in pictures showing Buhari shaking hands with Obama in Obama's country.