Petrol shortages, chaos in the banks, plus insecurity and the chronic lack of water and electricity have added to the plight of many in Nigeria.

Muhammed Bazza has been queuing for petrol under the scorching sun for four hours, while Alexander Okwori has spent the last two waiting at an ATM.

And these days, Awolowo, one of the main commercial thoroughfares in Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of 20 million, is constantly blocked by traffic jams made worse by waiting for fuel, meaning more misery for residents.

From north to south, the country of some 215 million inhabitants is facing a combination of crises.

It’s a volatile combination as Nigeria prepares for presidential and general elections next month, with President Muhammadu Buhari resigning after the two terms allowed by the constitution.

Bazza said he had woken up at 4:30 a.m. to try to avoid the gas lines, but it didn’t work. Shortly after 10 am, and only 30 feet (10 meters) from the gas pump, he was told to leave. .

“It’s over! No more fuel,” said the station employee. “My day is lost,” Bazza lamented. “Every day it’s the same problem, it’s ridiculous.”

While Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest crude oil producers, it has almost no refining capacity and must import fuel from Europe and elsewhere.

“We’re tired,” Bazza said before leaving. “Everywhere people are fighting.”

no cash

Across the street, about fifty people are crowded in front of a bank, with more and more people joining the crowd.

Like everyone else, Alexander Okwori is trying to get new banknotes introduced last October to replace the old naira, with a January 31 deadline to redeem.

But days before the deadline, only a few banks were distributing the new notes, leaving many Nigerians, who are overwhelmingly poor and without bank accounts, without access to cash.

Under pressure, the government agreed to push the deadline to February 10, but many banks were still unable to distribute the new notes on Tuesday.

“No ATM is giving money. I went to 10 banks, no new bills,” said Okwori, who wonders how he will manage to buy food for the day.

His anger has reached the point that he has no intention of voting on February 25.

“To get my PVC (voter’s credential) I have to queue again. For what? All (politicians) are the same,” said the 21-year-old.

The two main candidates vying to replace Buhari are Bola Tinubu from the president’s ruling party and Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition group.

Both are political veterans, wealthy but also haunted by suspicions of corruption in the minds of many voters.


Outside another petrol station in Awolowo, a queue has completely blocked traffic, leaving Vanessa Ifejitah stuck in her car for three hours with her children on the way to school.

Wearing a fancy orange dress, the mother-of-two gets out of her car and begins yelling at nearby military officers.

“You are the cause of our problems!” she yells, pointing to her vehicle parked in the middle of the queue, which makes matters even worse for those trying to pass, so Ifejitah begins directing traffic herself to fix the problem.

“The line is getting worse every day… I don’t know what’s going on in Nigeria,” she says, walking back to her car, on the verge of tears. “My children are two hours late for school.”

Frustrations are mounting across the country with some plans not to vote on February 25.

The Independent National Electoral Commission has once again extended the deadline for the collection of Permanent Elector Credentials.

The main candidates vying to replace Buhari are Bola Tinubu from the president’s ruling party, Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition group and Peter Obi.

With less than a month to go until the day of the vote, frustration is growing across the country.

Protests over fuel shortages broke out in southern Benin City on Monday (Jan 30), according to local media.

Angry crowds also protested Buhari’s recent visit to Kano, the largest city in the north, with many lighting bonfires and throwing stones at police in a city traditionally one of the president’s strongholds.