Nigeria’s rising inflation continues to bite harder, pushing more citizens into poverty as the cost of living and purchasing power shrinks under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.
This is as headline inflation increased 24 times in two years to 27.33 per cent in October, propelled by food inflation, which soared to 31.52 per cent in October 2023 from 30.64 per cent in September 2023.
Food items, accommodation, clothing, electricity, education fees and other prices have all hit the rooftop.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, quickly insisted that its recent monetary policy has started yielding results despite not holding the Monetary Policy Committee’s meeting since September.
Survey showed that food prices have recently skyrocketed by at least 20 per cent.
For instance, a mudu of rice had moved to N1,700 from N1,500, beans (Red) to N1100 from N800, 1.4-litre of groundnut oil to N3,000 from N2500, a loaf of bread N1100 from N700, eggs to N3000 from N2700 for a crate, garri (Red) N700 from N500 a mudu.
Chinedu Odah, an Abuja resident explaining the impact of inflation on him, said, “Through the past months, I have been on a daily survival mode because of hikes in the price of goods and services.
“At the same time, there is also an upsurge in the cost of education, so I am not only struggling to cater to feed my family but I am also met with the battle to keep them in their various schools regardless of the increment.
“So, truthfully, I derive my strength from a saying: when it gets overwhelming, remember God is too big to owe you.
“Huge sacrifices are being made on my end, given my position and responsibility in the home, just to try and keep up with the running costs.
“Months back, we budgeted and spent N10,000 to provide basic needs for the family in a week. Currently, N20,000 is barely enough to cover the same costs.
“Months ago, I spent N1,000 for daily transportation to work in the Central Area and back home. Currently, I spend N2,500 from my house to the same Central Area and back home.”
Odah is not alone, Amina Zakaria, a resident of Kaduna, said her household is living from hand-to-mouth due to the hike in food prices.
“We no longer eat three square meals, sometimes one, at other times it is two, walahi Nigeria hard for my family”, she said.
Nkechi Nwankwo, a resident of Port Harcourt Rivers State, said, “The prices of food items are increasing daily, the worst thing is that my income has remained the same. Money has value, too. One can’t buy things in the market.”
This is the lamentation on the lips of many Nigerians, whether in the North or South.
According to the World Bank, in the five months of 2023, accelerating inflation pushed four million Nigerians into poverty.
The Washington-based development bank’s data came months after the multidimensional poverty index released in November last year said 133 million people in Nigeria live below the poverty line.
But upon the emergence of President Tinubu, he vowed to take Nigeria’s economy out of the woods with his renewed hope mantra, but months down the line, Nigerians are yet to have the feelgood factor.
Since June this year, the fuel subsidy removal and foreign market liberalisation have negatively impacted the nation’s economy.
Though the government said that after subsidy removal, its revenue jumped from an average of N650 million monthly to over N1 trillion in the last four months, the impact on the well-being of Nigerians is yet to be felt.
Nigeria spent over 96 per cent of its revenue in 2022 on debt serving, according to the World Bank, as the country’s total debt stocks rose to N87.38 trillion in the second quarter of 2023.
However, Nigeria is not all gloomy as the government continues to ‘take baby steps’ towards solving its economic problems.
The government said it targets increasing the country’s minimum wage from N30,000 monthly to N65,000.
Also, it promised Nigerians to roll out 11,000 Compressed Natural Gas buses to reduce transportation costs, plans to close the country’s N20 trillion tax gap and recently suspended the 40 per cent remittance of internally generated revenue by Nigerian universities.
But the federal government continued to foot-drag on its pledge to kickstart payment of N75,000 to vulnerable Nigerians, despite the World Bank confirming disbursing part of Nigeria’s $800 million fuel subsidy removal palliatives loan.
Dr Uju Ogunbunka, the President of the Bank Customers’ Association of Nigeria, said the country’s inflation is hitting Nigerians badly.
He noted that the impact of inflation on Nigerians is exacerbated because disposable income has remained stagnant despite soaring prices of goods and services.
“The truth of the market is that we are all buying from the same market, except for market locations, but it is the same Nigerian environment.
“Inflation naturally affects price increases. Once prices are increasing and available income isn’t increasing, somebody has to pay for it; in that case, it is the consumer because whoever is selling would ensure he/she recovers the cost.
“We all feel it; nobody is happy, and no one should be. When you have stagnated income, and your cost profile is increasing very soon, you run out of cash.
“The increase of inflation is not healthy in a country. We all depend on what we have to buy and the income level.
“The income is not only decreasing because of inflation but also because of foreign exchange rates. We are all suffering; I don’t know when it will stop. Unfortunately, we are not in production.
“We are praying for the business environment to improve, income for Nigerians to improve and security.
“For now, all of us are feeling the heat. We do not know when it will stop. Unfortunately, we are not producing enough; we can’t produce for our local needs. We pray for the environment to improve, improved income and security. It is a difficult time, though Nigerians have a way of surviving difficult times”, he said.
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