Huge queues had formed today outside petrol stations in Nigeria, after the announcement by the country’s new president, Bola Tinubu, that fuel subsidies will be abolished, an event that caused panic among consumers.

Immediately after his inauguration on Monday, Bola Tinubu said that in his budget there will be no expenditure on subsidiesas he had promised before the election. “We will redirect these resources to better investments in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will improve the lives of our fellow citizens.” 71-year-old Tinubu said. “Subsidies disappear”he added, without giving an exact timeline of when that would happen.

The National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced that the government can no longer, effective today, pay the costly fuel subsidy.

Earlier, however, associates of the president clarified that the end of the subsidies will be written at the end of June, calling it “futile” to buy fuel from drivers.

Because it does not have enough refineries, Nigeria trades its billions of dollars worth of crude oil for imported oil, which it then subsidizes to keep its market price artificially low. This measure is very popular with residents, but every year it costs billions of dollars to the public treasury. Abolishing it, long recommended by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to boost growth, could in the short term raise the price of fuel in Africa’s most populous country, where almost half the population already lives in conditions of extreme poverty.


“This means more suffering for Nigerians,” commented a 43-year-old civil servant, waiting outside a petrol station in Lagos, the country’s financial capital.

Over the last decade the government has tried several times to remove the subsidies, but without success. Each time the authorities backed down in the face of citizen and union outrage. In 2012, the army even had to take to the streets to maintain order in the massive demonstrations that were organized at the time.