• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Triple whammy as food, clothing, housing costs strain Nigerians

GAIN, NCIC grant $16,000 to four innovators to boost nutritious foods

For Iya Bose and Chinonso, traders at Oworo Market in Lagos, there is no respite in sight as the high costs of food, clothing, and housing continue to take a heavy toll on their businesses.

Rentals for their stores have surged 150 percent in 2023, and sales are fast declining as consumers cut down on non-essentials.

“Sales are declining because people are under heavy pressure owing to inflation,” Chinonso, a trader of second-hand clothing, said.

Egharevba Orevaoghene, a keke driver who relocated to Lagos, is contemplating returning to Agenebode town in Edo State because of the rising cost of living as his daily income can no longer meet his family’s needs.

“At least in my town, we can eat ‘omi ukpoka’ (corn soup), ‘omisagwe’ (groundnut soup), and fresh fish soup, and it doesn’t have to cost as high as it will in Lagos,” he said.

Like Chinonso, Egharevba, and Iya Bose, millions of Nigerians are pressed as the costs of food, clothes, and housing are going beyond their reach.

Nigeria’s consumer prices hit a record 28.2 percent in November, with food, clothing, and housing costs contributing most to the rise.

Read also: Inflation to top 18-year high, piles more pressure on CBN

Food inflation, which makes up the bulk of Nigeria’s inflation basket, quickened to 32.8 percent in November from 31.5 percent in October, exacerbating the cost of living crisis in the country.

Food prices have surged by over 50 percent year-on-year. The price of a 50kg bag of foreign parboiled rice rose by 65.6 percent to N65,000 from N39,250 in December 2022.

The average price of a 10kg carton of frozen chicken increased by 36.1 percent to N32,000 from N23,500 in December last year, while a kilo goes for N3,400 as against N2,400 in the same period last year.

A big basket of fresh tomatoes sells for N41,000 as against N16,000 last year, while a small basket sells for N18,000.

An Eva bottle of palm oil now sells for N1,200, while groundnut oil of the same quantity sells for N1,300. A carton of Titus fish sells for N72,000, while a carton of shawa goes for N33,000.

Bimbo Adelabi, a single mother and civil servant, said second-hand items are cheaper alternatives for lots of struggling Nigerians.

“Everything is expensive in Nigeria now, especially food. With food, there are no alternatives, but for clothes, I can buy second-hand that are of quality,” Adelabi said. “This is why markets like Yaba, Asuwani, and Katangua will keep thriving. They afford the average Nigerian’s clothes and other second-hand items.”

Salaries are failing to keep pace with inflation in Africa’s biggest economy, with civil servants and low-income households most hit by the squeeze.

This is worsening a cost-of-living crisis that is causing a decline in living standards, which is hurting physical and mental health and exacerbating existing conditions, according to experts.

The World Bank, in its latest Nigeria Development Update report, said sluggish growth and rising inflation in Africa’s biggest economy have pushed an additional 24 million Nigerians into poverty in the last five years.

Reads also:Inflation boxes CBN to tightening stance in 2024

It said the poverty rate has risen to 46 percent in 2023 from 40 percent in 2018, with the number of poor Nigerians put at 104 million.

In a country where the minimum wage is N30,000 (below $300 per month), the ballooning costs of food, clothes, and shelter are leaving many struggling daily to survive.

Rose Chukwu, a teacher in a private secondary school in Ojota, said two parents have also asked her to suspend the extra lesson with their children.

“It is a big blow to me, as I support my family from my income, and having it reduced in an inflationary period is killing,” she said. “Both parents could not afford to continue because their salary has also reduced owing to inflation, and they needed to prioritise.”

Timothy Adegoke, an accountant in a consultancy firm in Ikeja, said his rent was increased from N700,000 to N900,000 by his landlord.

“Things are hard, and landlords and house owners are making it worse for people. You can imagine a house that was built years ago and the owner saying they are hiking the rent because of inflation,” he said.