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A Decision that Brought Lagos to a Standstill

A proposal by Nigeria’s new president to remove costly fuel subsidies has sparked a rush to snap up cheap petrol and led to long queues outside gas stations. Nigerians have long enjoyed cheap petrol due to subsidies introduced in the 1970s. They are hugely popular with ordinary Nigerians, who regard them as a rare benefit of the country’s oil wealth that otherwise bypasses them completely. But the cost of subsidising petrol has ballooned, and would be expected to guzzle more than $7bn in the first half of 2023. The World Bank said late last year that continued subsidies were one reason why Nigeria faced a “fiscal time-bomb”. Tinubu is desperate to make savings, having taken over a government with depressed state revenues and elevated debt levels. The country has not profited from the high oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine because its production has slumped to less than 1mn barrels per day due to theft and inadequate infrastructure.