Fuel, wheat, ‘tokunbo’ vehicles top imports in 2022

Petroleum products, durum wheat, and used vehicles topped the list of items imported into Nigeria from January to September this year, a BusinessDay analysis of available data has shown.

Africa’s biggest economy relies heavily on importation for many goods consumed in the country, including food. It exports mostly agricultural goods, crude oil, and gas.

The report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that for the nine-month period, the country’s total imports stood at N17 trillion, indicating a 22.57 percent decline from N21.95 trillion in the same period of 2021.

Below are the 10 top imported items:

Motor spirit ordinary

Motor spirit ordinary or premium motor spirit, popularly called petrol, is the most imported product, accounting for 21.50 percent of the country’s total imports into Nigeria in the period.

The value of imported petrol increased by 44.89 percent to N3.66 trillion from N2.52 trillion in the same period last year.

Following the war between Russia and Ukraine, the prices of crude oil increased significantly in the global market, and this affected the landing cost of the petrol imported into Nigeria.

Durum wheat (not in seeds)

Durum wheat (not in seeds) is the second most imported product in Nigeria, valued at N753.6 billion from January to September 2022, indicating a 16 percent decline from N898.18 billion in the same period last year.

Durum wheat is a variety of spring wheat that’s typically ground into semolina and used to make pasta. It is also finely ground and used to prepare couscous, bulgur, noodles, and bread. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in the country after maize and rice.

Gas oil

Gas oil, also known as diesel, accounts for 3.64 percent of the total value of goods imported into the country in the nine-month period. Gas oil valued at N618.96 billion were imported, a 24 percent increase from N499 billion a year earlier.

Jet fuel

Jet fuel or aviation fuel accounts for 2.87 percent of the total value of imported goods reported by the NBS in the period under review, making it the fourth most imported product in Nigeria.

The data from the NBS shows that Nigeria imported kerosene-type jet fuel worth N487.7 billion.

Cane sugar meant for refinery

Cane sugar meant for refinery accounts for 1.54 percent of the total value of goods imported into the country. The total quantity of cane sugar imported was valued at N262.59, a 22.83 percent decline from the N340.29 billion reported in the same period of 2021.

Used vehicles

Data from the NBS show that Nigeria imported used vehicles worth N259.86 billion from January to September, indicating a 51 percent decline from N531.7 billion in the same period of 2021.

According to the NBS, the used vehicles, popularly referred to as Tokunbo, categorised as “used vehicles, with diesel or semidiesel engines, of cylinder capacity >2500cc”.

BusinessDay reported last month that car dealers attributed the decline in vehicle imports into the country to the depreciation of the naira and high clearing.


Nigeria imported machines for the reception, conversion, and transmission of voice, images, or data worth N213.4 billion, down 38.72 percent from N348.17 billion in the corresponding period of 2021.

Read also: Agric import hits N512bn in third quarter

Pharmaceutical products

The total value of other medicaments (pharmaceutical products) imported into the country amounted to N205.38 billion in the nine-month period.


The total value of motorcycles imported into the country stood at N182.94 billion, representing a 44.72 percent decline from N326.64 billion in the corresponding period of 2021.

Experts say the downward trend could be connected to the ban of motorcycles for commercial purposes, also known as okada, by state governments as well as a proposal by the federal government to stop its use in the country.


Nigeria imported polypropylene worth N143.09 billion from January to September, compared to N168.12 billion in the same period of 2021.

Polypropylene has numerous applications like food packaging, textiles, plastic containers, injection moulding, toys, and packaging, among others.

“Foreign exchange volatility is giving many local producers challenges in importing polypropylene materials. Nigeria is in this situation because our refineries are not working. Mind you, we have very good professionals who can produce polypropylene that will be of global standards in Nigeria,” Adewale Olalekan, a chemical engineer, said.

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