Shortly after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave his inaugural speech, mentioning the removal of fuel subsidy, long queues formed at fuel stations around the country. For a quick second, it seemed like fuel scarcity was back.
Then, on the 31st of May, the NNPC shared a list of new pump prices. The implication is that the increased cost of petrol has come to stay.
What are fuel subsidies?
Fuel subsidies are supplementary funds paid by the government to suppliers of fuel to help reduce the pump price of fuel for consumers-slash-citizens. In simple terms, taking out those supplementary funds has caused the jump in fuel prices.
In ideal situations, the removal of the fuel subsidy will come with benefits, as the money saved by the Nigerian government would be allocated to other sectors like healthcare and education.
What should Nigerians expect?
Reactions to the removal of the fuel subsidy have permeated online and offline discourse. On Twitter, @ColeUche tweeted that the new prices “will have a ripple effect on the cost of living. It will impact everything from transportation and logistics to food prices, as fuel is an essential component of our daily lives.”
The NLC, which represents Nigerian workers, has made plans to embark on a nationwide strike starting on the 7th June. Electricity workers are considering joining in. Speaking on these developments, Yinka*, a public servant living in Bayelsa, said, “There are dark times ahead, literally. I just want to stay positive, but it’s too hard.”
What has changed for the average Nigerian?
A noticeable fallout of the fuel subsidy removal could be seen on the streets of Lagos in the days that followed the announcement: the city’s infamous traffic dwindled.
Philip, a consultant living in Lagos, shared how the cost of filling up his tank caused him to stay home. “I used to fill my tank with about ₦13k, but now it costs around ₦36k for the same 75 litres,” he complained. “Apart from going to the office and running important errands, my car will now stay parked in my compound. I used to love driving Lagos roads on the weekends, but this weekend the thought of the fuel price sat me down at home.”
The impact of the new fuel prices is particularly pronounced in the transportation sector. Lara*, a Lagos-based editor said, “So far, only my transport fare to and from my office has doubled. I don’t even argue too much, because I’m not surprised. I have to go to work, so what can I do?”
Some ride-hailing platforms have raised their prices by over 100%. Even so, some drivers on these platforms charge extra under the table. A social media user complained that although one platform charged ₦1,100, the driver wanted three times that amount..
Away from transportation, Amaka*, a public servant and mum of four residing in Asaba, explained that the rise in fuel prices has affected her domestic arrangements. “Since last Tuesday, I’ve had to decide between saving the food in the freezer or saving petrol,” she said. “It’s not like I don’t have fuel in my generator, but I genuinely can no longer afford to run the generator for more than one hour every day.”
Some, like Onyi who works from home, are yet to register a personal change: “I work from home and I’ve been indoors, so it seems like I’m kinda exempted, but the cries of my family and friends dey enter my ear.”
It’s reasonable to believe that there might be a few more changes over the next few weeks as the full impact of the fuel subsidy removal becomes known by more Nigerians. So it is perhaps best to listen to Nnaemeka, an engineer residing in Lagos, who says, “It’s too early to tell how this thing will pan out. Let’s wait another three or four weeks.”