Fallout of Petrol Scarcity: Prices of pepper, foodstuff rise

Nigerians are faced with what could be best described as a double whammy of fuel scarcity and poor electricity supply that left them frustrated and angry as they struggled to go about their daily lives.

From Lagos to Sokoto, Borno to Enugu and Abuja to Cross River, the story was the same – it was a harrowing experience for Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country as long queues resurfaced in filling stations, following scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol.

Commercial and vehicular activities were grounded as nationwide fuel scarcity took its toll on economic activities in the country. Travellers and commuters were left stranded at bus stops and motor parks because commercial motorists were unable to operate as long queues of vehicles formed at filling stations in different locations in a desperate bid to purchase fuel.

Many stations in Lagos did not open for business as petrol was being sold for as high as N900 per litre from the former price of N600 or thereabouts.

In Sokoto, some filling stations sold the product for as high as N1, 500 per litre while black marketers sell between N2, 000 and N3, 000 per litre.

Findings by Vanguard indicate that many motorists and other users were compelled by circumstances to patronise black market operators who were selling in jerry cans.

The development saw transporters increase fares by 100 per cent to cover the high cost of petrol.
For instance, in Lagos, commuters paid N2, 000 from Mile 12 to Mile 2, a distance that used to cost them N1, 000, while others paid N1, 000 from CMS to Mile 2, which previously cost about N500.

There were also indications that the scarcity may have led to a hike in the prices of foodstuff, especially pepper.

A Lagos resident, Adedeji Abiodun, put it this way: “It will also interest you to know that the scarcity of petrol not only affects transportation, foodstuff prices have also skyrocketed, especially pepper.

“In the last week, sellers have been complaining about the hike in the cost of transporting their goods.

“My experience in this weird week due to scarcity of petrol and power outage has been terrible.

“Transportation fares doubled because fuel scarcity made most drivers park their buses.

“And for the few drivers that were able to get PMS, they increased fares. However, I had no choice but to board their vehicles because I had to get to work. In just three days, I spent my two weeks transport fare. 

“As regards electricity, we hardly have four hours of light in a day in my area. Most people now depend on fuel for domestic use and businesses.

“Yet, what amazes me is how we are paying bills as if we are in band A or B. This saddens my heart.” 

A former Commissioner in Sokoto State, who was seen grappling to have a gallon of petrol for his car, blamed petroleum marketers in the state for the chaos. 

“I am 74 years old but throughout my entire life, I have never witnessed this kind of fuel scarcity”, he said.

“Many people believe the situation was worsened because marketers were allegedly hoarding the product to create artificial scarcity and tension in the state.

“Government should wake up from slumber and deal with the situation even if it warrants revocating their C of Os to save the state from the shackles of the greed of few individuals.”

No succor

Meanwhile, succor may not come quickly going by a statement credited to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN.

The association had, on Monday, said the petrol scarcity could take more than two weeks to normalise.

IPMAN, through its Public Relations Officer, Chinedu Ukadike, said the product was not available in the country.

He said it has become a bit of a challenge to source the product because most refineries in Europe are undergoing turnaround maintenance.


Recall that President Bola Tinubu, during his inauguration on May 29, 2023, stopped payment of subsidy on PMS which sent the price skyrocketing from N185 to N600 or thereabouts per litre.

Today, findings by Sunday Vanguard reveal that petrol is sold for between N900 and N1, 300 per litre in the country.

The removal of petrol subsidy has impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of the country.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor out of over 200 million citizens.

The high cost of living and other economic issues have combined to worsen the current situation, leading to an increase in the country’s poverty index.

The lack of job opportunities is at the core of the high poverty levels.

High inflation has also taken a toll on household’s welfare and price increases have pushed more Nigerians into poverty.

Electricity woes

Expectedly, the petrol situation has compounded the woes of poor electricity supply as most Nigerians could no longer fuel their generating sets to power their homes and businesses.

Despite the zero improvement in power supply, the Federal Government, last month, removed subsidies on electricity for those in the Band A category which hiked tariffs by 300%.

According to the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Musiliu Oseni, the subsidy removal had become expedient because government could no longer sustain subsidy on electricity and had to devise ways to cut down the about N2.9tn that would be spent on power subsidy this year.

However, analysts said no country could build an economy by removing subsidies for the poor and raising taxes at the same time.

There is no gainsaying that one of the factors that have hindered economic development in the country is epileptic electricity and the country’s glaring incompetence in managing the sector for the collective welfare of citizens.

Nigeria has struggled with poor power supply for decades, a challenge that is estimated to cost businesses about $29 billion yearly, according to the World Bank.

The country has the lowest access to electricity globally, with about 92 million persons out of the country’s 200 million population lacking access to power, according to the Energy Progress Report 2022 released by Tracking SDG 7.

This year alone, the national grid had collapsed at three different times – February 4, March 28 and April 15.

This contributed significantly to electricity disruption across the country and saw electricity generation nosedived to 2,775 megawatts, MW, a 32.3 per cent decline from 4,099.87 MW.

The development has forced many Nigerians resort to a cheaper alternative source of electricity, in this case, solar power.

In most households and business places, and even government establishments, public power supply is being replaced with solar energy.

Already, the hike in tariff amid the epileptic power supply is inciting conflicts between the electricity distribution companies’ staff and aggrieved consumers across the country.


To give Nigerians some reprieve, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, on Wednesday, gave the FG a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the increase in electricity tariff.

President of the unions, Mr Joe Ajaero and Mr Fetus Osifo, in a joint speech to mark the 2024 Workers’ Day in Abuja, expressed dissatisfaction over the epileptic power situation in Nigeria.

According to them, “it is unethical to force Nigerians to pay higher tariffs for non-existent electricity.”


Our correspondents, who monitored the situation in different states, observed that many of the filling stations have been forced to close due to a lack of petrol.

While commuters are groaning over the spike in cost of transport fares, transporters expressed frustration in getting the product.

“I’ve been queuing for hours just to get a few litres of fuel. It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, we still have to deal with fuel scarcity. The government needs to do something about this”, said Emma Obi, a frustrated Abuja resident.

Another commuter, Usman Garba, expressed his grievances after waiting under the bridge in Karu for over two hours trying to get a cab or bus to the Wuse/Berger area of the FCT before trekking the nearly six kilometers distance.

Another commuter, who simply gave her name as Agnes, had no choice but to pay higher than what she used to pay on transport fares.

She said: “Already, the money I had with me cannot get me lunch at work. On getting to the road, the transportation fare is now doubled. This means the limited money I have will be affected again, which boils down to the fact that what we are going through is unbearable.”

On her part, Mrs Aisha Mohammed said she will have to trek the two kilometers distance from the junction where she will be dropped to her house because the money meant for motorbike had been spent on plying the main road.

She begged that the situation be put under control soon because it won’t be easy for people to get to where they earn their living.


A driver, Sunday Adah, who had been waiting in one of the queues, described the situation as horrific and blamed government for being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.

“This government is wicked and always bent on making us suffer. I do not understand if they enjoy seeing us suffer. I have been in this queue for more than four hours and I have not been able to get fuel”, Adah said.

“I know how much I would have made already but for the time that I have spent here. I do not know what the problem is again.

“They said fuel subsidy, now they have removed fuel subsidy and made us buy the fuel at outrageous rates, yet we cannot even buy with ease”.

Bad to worse

Reacting, an Abuja-based football entrepreneur, Ese Onayomake, described the situation as tough.

“Seriously, I won’t tell you lies, this fuel scarcity has not been funny. To make matters worse, the light situation has been very terrible”, Onayomake told Vanguard.

“The electricity company has caused me a lot of trouble with their erratic power supply. All the perishable things in my fridge got damaged, including fresh tomatoes, fresh pepper, fish, meat and vegetables. The heat at night is simply unbearable.

“The hike in fuel price drove transport fares to the sky. For instance, Area 1, Garki Abuja to Maitama which used to cost me like N500 suddenly jumped to N1, 500.

“The cost of things in the market keeps going higher. In fact, the situation in the country is going from bad to worse by the day”.

No light

In addition to the fuel scarcity, residents also bemoaned prolonged power outages, with electricity supply being sporadic at best.

Many areas of Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country have experienced blackouts for hours on end, making it difficult for residents to work, study, or even carry out basic household chores.

A site engineer, Joseph Edozie, who resides around Asokoro, said: “I was optimistic when I heard about the increase in electricity tariffs, thinking that we would finally have reliable power supply, but nothing has changed.”

Abdul Mubarak, a resident of Wuse in Abuja, said: “We still experience frequent power outages and sometimes go for days without electricity.

“It’s frustrating to pay more for a service that is not being adequately provided. We were promised 20 hours of power supply with the new tariff, but that has not been the case.”

A business owner at Kubwa, Elizabeth Cosmas, said: “These people started this tariff increment without honouring their words.

“We stay hours without electricity. In a day, we can stay for 10-15hours without light here in Kubwa. When our unit finishes and we pay for another one, the increased tariff is still reflected. I wish this government could be more sincere to its citizens.”

Horrible experience

For Madam Doris Ndukwe, a restaurant operator in Ipaja, Lagos, it has been a horrible experience.
“I lost a lot and almost shut down my shop at a point. Just a few days ago, the meat I bought for N40, 000 was damaged as a result of non-availability of power.

“For three days, I tried using a generator but stopped as N3, 000 fuel lasted for two hours only, each day. My daughter tried using ice blocks to chill our drinks but that was even worse as they melted almost instantly.

“As you may know, we have not had light for almost three weeks in this area. Our cable was damaged and efforts to fix it have so far failed.

“We have seen hell; I have observed that light is life. I bathe five times every night and my grandson cries all night every night due to too much heat.”


Also speaking, Mr Usman Yakubu decried the high transport fares.

“It’s weird. A place where the fare used to be 500 is now 700. This is a fare that used to be 300 pre-Tinubu era. To worsen the situation, there was a blackout almost throughout the week. In the last one week, there has been no fuel and light”, Yakubu said.

“I find it difficult to sleep at night because of the intense heat and mosquitoes feeding on my body. So far, the experience has been harrowing and as it goes, ‘there was a country.’”

Speaking in the same vein, Mr Abubakar Ibrahim described the week as unproductive.

He said: “For a week now, I have been on leave, meaning I have been spending more time at home and with my family. “Surprisingly, since last Monday, we only had electricity yesterday. At the same time, it’s been difficult to get petrol to power the house, making it hard to self-generate power. It’s been a hectic and unproductive week.”

A commercial motorcyclist, on his part, noted: “There are about 100 filling stations across Sokoto metropolis but as I am talking to you now, less than five are selling fuel to the public.

“Sokoto State government has to come to the aid of the residents before the situation deteriorates beyond what we are witnessing today.”

Businesses grounded

For Chief Johnson Okolo, the President, Osakwe Industrial Cluster, Awada, near Onitsha, Anambra State, scarcity of fuel and lack electricity supply are twin issues killing business and aggravating the suffering of the masses.

He said that the two issues make Nigeria look like a “cursed” nation with negative impact to all aspects of the lives of Nigerians.

“Once there is no electricity supply, activities of the people and industrial activities are affected. Once there is no fuel, business activities and cost of living of the people is aggravated”, Okolo said.

“So any responsible government should take these two issues that generally affect the masses seriously to avert aggravation of the sufferings of the people.

“You can see that here in my company, and everywhere, Osakwe Industrial Cluster everything is grounded.  Production is grounded because there is no electricity supply.”  

Mr. Ambassador Onoja, Executive Director, Next Generation Youth Initiative, said his experience was hellish.

“It is a hellish experience. This week, they literally killed all Nigerians. If I tell you what I have lost within this period, you will weep for me”, Onoja said.

“I have not been able to do my work. No light to work and I cannot afford to buy petrol. It has been hell. 

“I have been reduced to nothing. I cannot get help from government, and even the nearest neighbor cannot give you help because he also needs help.

“Even getting money to feed my family is impossible because I cannot do what will fetch me money.”

Executive Director, Elohim Development Foundation, Dr. Victoria Daor, also speaking, said: “For me, the last one week has been very trying on my mental health, considering the fact that, before now, the pump price of fuel was quite high but we were managing to cope, but, right now, we cannot even get it. 

“It has affected movement, it has affected even being able to be comfortable given the high weather temperature in Makurdi and you need to power you generator since there is no light.

“And there is no fuel to power the generator, no fuel to drive your car and it has been very tasking on my mind as a person and I am sure on very many other people.”

Solar to the rescue 

Meanwhile, the inability of successive governments to fix the country’s power problem amid high electricity tariffs has triggered ‘mad’ rush for solar energy.

Findings from power consumers reveal that many of them have given up on stable power supply in the country, just as their meager salaries cannot accommodate high tariff and estimated power billing because DISCOs have failed to achieve mass metering to expunge estimated billing system.

A consumer in Shiyar Sarakuna, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, Malam Mustapha, who recently switched to solar energy, attributed his decision to poor supply and improper billing, saying “we are simply paying for darkness.”

Though Mustapha belongs to Band C category which is expected to have  five hours of light a day, he was surprised to see sharp increase in the tariff when the recent increase should affect only Band A customers.

“I am still wondering why we are paying high when we don’t enjoy power supply,” he told Vanguard.

“We still have to power our generating sets at our cost and, at the same time, pay improper exorbitant bill. So switching to solar energy is a blessing to me.”

A resident of Aliero Housing Estate, Bashar Bako, a prepaid meter user, was shocked when he went to top up his meter units just a day after they announced tariff increase and was told by the receiving cashier that his area was affected by the increase even though he belongs to Band B category. 

Saddened by the development,  Bako engaged the services of a solar energy agent for installations so he could have steady power in his house and also minimise his meter units since his salary could not afford the high tariff.

More patronage 

A solar energy installation agent with the Sun King in Birnin Kebbi, Malam Umar Yalli, told our correspondent that since the increase in tariff, he had witnessed high patronage and the demand for solar energy in the state has sharply increased.

He added that no fewer than 300 households have had installations due to high increase and epileptic power supply in the state.

According to him, the rich buys in full while the not-too-rich like civil servants pay in installment to maintain solar energy supplies in their houses.

Umar stated that, in no distance time, a target of a million users would be achieved as long as tariff increase and poor power supply remained.

“We will continue to witness enormous patronage from public power supply users in the state”, he added.

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