Fuel queues have resurfaced in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital city. A survey carried out by Nairametrics on Tuesday, March 7 revealed that filling stations around Garki, Wuse, and Kubwa Expressway have long queues of cars, motorbikes and tricycles (keke Napep) waiting to buy fuel. 

According to some residents who live around the Garki axis, the queues started appearing last week but everyone thought the queues would disappear within 48 hours.  

The fuel supply context: On March 5, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) put out a press release saying that operations in loading depots have fully resumed following the restriction of movements during the country’s Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25. 

The NMDPRA went ahead to assure Nigerians that the current stock sufficiency for fuel was 35.39 days, which means that fuel is supposed to be available from the time of announcement until the first week of April 2023. The NMDPRA also warned against panic buying.  

On March 5, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, also released a statement addressing fuel sufficiency. According to the NNPC, there was a total of 2.1 billion litres of fuel, representing 0.9 billion litres in all land depots and 1.2 billion litres on marine vessels. The NNPCL also said it planned to close the month of March 2023 with 2.8 billion litres, equivalent to 47 days of sufficiency.   

NNPCL reaction to queues in Abuja: The NNPCL in the statement earlier referenced also said it had noticed the appearance of queues in some stations in the capital city. It said the reason for this was the restriction of businesses and movement due to the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 25 and it expected normalcy soon.  

Residents’ reaction: Amaka Obi who resides in the Garki area of Abuja told Nairametrics that she saw the NNPC statement on Sunday but the queues are getting worse in the capital city. “We expected that the queues will reduce on Monday evening, but the queues are getting longer because people are panicking. No one knows why fuel scarcity is back,” she says.  

According to Mr Ani Joseph who works in a civil society organization, black market traders have once again appeared on the streets to sell fuel to impatient buyers who need it, especially for their generators. He said: 

  • “Last night (Monday, March 6), there was heavy rainfall in Abuja and as usual, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has refused to restore power supply since morning. Some people who run small businesses and others who need light at home have rushed out to patronize black market traders because filling stations are full of buyers.” 

The payment context: Nairametrics asked a black-market trader who was selling fuel close to a locked filling station around the Karu area of Abuja and he said he sells fuel for up to N450 per litre via online transfers or cash. 

Meanwhile, some residents who bought fuel between last week Thursday and Monday, March 6, said they paid for fuel using online transfers and cash simultaneously. According to Mr Celestine, a filling station staff member, some stations are now accepting old notes from customers, following the directive by the Supreme Court that all old notes should be legal tender once again.  

The election context: The general mood of Abuja residents is one of resignation to fate. In the last year, the capital city has had on-and-off incidents of fuel scarcity and many residents are now accepting the challenge. Although the forthcoming gubernatorial elections will not hold in Abuja, being a federal capital, many wonder why the fuel queues persist, if really people are hoarding fuel because of the forthcoming March 11 elections.  

Speaking on the gubernatorial elections, a jewellery trader in Wuse district, Alhaji Bello S. told Nairametrics that he knows some Abuja residents will travel to their respective states to vote during the elections and many of them are buying fuel for their cars for two purposes. The first is to use cars for road travel to their states. The second reason is to ensure their car tanks are full before travelling because of the fear of the unknown, so when they come back, they do not have to buy fuel.