Fuel Scarcity in Nigeria: Causes of the Scarcity and the Way out

Nigeria is one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world and number one in Africa according to latest statistics, Also, Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, an association of 13 of the world’s major oil-exporting nations. Despite these, fuel scarcity in Nigeria is an epidemic that re-emerges in the country now and then. 

What are the common causes of fuel scarcity despite its abundant supply? What are the ways this re-emerging epidemic can get cured? Keep reading to find answers.

Fuel scarcity in Nigeria

Giving it Context

Since gaining independence in 1960, this isn’t the first time the country is experiencing fuel scarcity. Most of the blame for this trend is on the removal of fuel subsidies by the government in the past. Then, there are other things. But, the dynamics of the recent case of fuel scarcity that welcomed Nigeria to a new year is not common. 

It came unexpectedly for most Nigerians who found it illogical for the nation to be in such a condition in an election year. Or perhaps we’re used to governments channeling their superpower to getting laudable projects done at the tail end of their tenure. Clearly, the PMB administration chose to do things differently. 

The PMB administration is sadly not new to fuel scarcity. According to reports since 2015, “there have been accounts of fuel scarcity at least once a year” since President Muhammad Buhari came into power. The only year Nigeria avoided this dilemma was in 2018. So, in Nigeria, under the present administration, fuel scarcity is a familiar foe, unfortunately. 

What is Causing the Fuel Scarcity in Nigeria? 

There are a few factors taking credit for the scarcity of fuel recently and the typical inflation that follows this dilemma, such as: 

·      Increase in the Price of Vessels 

The increase in the price of vessels that transport petroleum products from the mother vessels is one of the major factors behind the scarcity. To make matters worse is the unavailability of trucks to meet the increasing demand for fuel. 

·      The Unstable Value of the Naira 

The unstable value of the Naira against other currencies in the exchange market is another problem affecting the supply of petroleum products. Aside from increasing the price of fuel and the transportation cost, it directly affects the export and import of petroleum products out and into the country respectively.

Are you shocked to learn that Nigeria imports a lot of petroleum products too even though crude oil is our biggest export? We all are. According to Comrade Jaye Gaskiya from the People’s Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M), “Nigeria is the only OPEC member country that imports more than 90 to 95% of refined petroleum products to meet its domestic consumption.” And this situation gets worse with the unstable value of the naira. 

·      Hoarding

Intelligence reports claim firmly that there is a purposeful plan by some oil marketers to derail the measure of government in the distribution of fuel in the country. They do this by hoarding petroleum products. This act then prompts an artificial scarcity all over the country.

·      The Black Market

The ‘Black market’ is one of the major reasons for hoarding, asides from other selfish gains petrol marketers stand to gain. Here, unapproved sellers connive with stations to get fuel and resell for hyper-inflated prices. This shameful act has also caused serious problems for vehicles across the country as engines are being damaged due to contaminated fuel.

What are the Possible Solutions to the Fuel Scarcity in Nigeria? 

That the fuel scarcity crisis keeps resurfacing affirms that no long-lasting solution was employed. The following are possible solutions to end this endless momentary scarcity: 

·      Tackling Corruption in the Oil Sector from Top to Bottom 

To stop fuel scarcity in Nigeria, the first step must be tackling corruption in the oil sector. Stopping people from diverting fuel to other countries or hoarding them is a way to ensure we all get enough of these petroleum products for domestic use. 

·      Hold Petroleum Marketers Accountable

Marketers stockpiling petroleum products in anticipation of a price increase from the government should be held accountable for their actions. Their greedy actions sabotage the economy and due punishments should be in place. 

·       Leverage Refineries

Government should take the right steps to maximize the goods of our few refineries, get them functional, and build new ones. The effectiveness of our refineries would save us from this dilemma to a large extent.

Also, private firms should get licenses to run standard refineries alongside government ones. That will be another source of employment for Nigerians.

·      Consider Privatization

Privatization of the petroleum sector affords the country a better chance at having more functional refineries. That also lessens the cost of importing the same natural resources from the country.

  • Embrace Innovations in the Sector  

New technological innovations that stand in as alternatives to fuel will reduce the demand for fuel demand. That will also cause fuel prices to fall which also puts a good stop to the fuel scarcity crisis.


Fuel scarcity is a global phenomenon. But, when the reasons are untraceable, it becomes worrisome. More so, local marketers and regulations maintain their important roles in easing the problems relating to the availability of fuel in Nigeria.  

Finally, there’s always the need to encourage positive competition among private entities to make the product available for sale at a reasonable price.

Israel Okunaya

I'm Israel Okunaya, an ace food and blockchain Writer, Content Marketer, and Product Manager. Keep tabs on my writings to experience several worlds in textual reality.