• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigerians narrate their struggles as naira slumps to N1,400/USD

Building a smart marketplace for food

…N4,000/USD in sight

Nigerians from all walks of life are afraid that the storm currently blowing at every corner of the country is yet to hit a crescendo. The storm metaphorically comes from the rapid fall in the exchange rate of the naira to the US dollar.

Items such as food, clothing, and shelter, which are considered necessities, have come under threat with the all-time low rate of the naira against the dollar.

As of Tuesday morning, the naira was exchanged for N1,400 to a US dollar on the street. This amount represents a 7.69 percent fall, or N100 slump, from Friday’s N1,300.

The most vicious slump ever witnessed in the 51-year-old history of the naira is pushing many Nigerians to the brink of disaster, desperation, and in need of urgent help. The slump doesn’t look as if it is going to stop any moment now.

BusinessDay gathered opinions from ordinary Nigerians on the streets to gauge how their daily lives have been affected by the rapid rise in prices of goods and services caused by the naira slump.

Rose Favour, 36, a perishable goods seller in the busy garage market in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos State, was the first to voice out her frustration.

She complained about the rapid increase in the prices of goods she has to buy to sell to her customers.

“Before N20,000 is enough to buy all the stock fish I need to sell,” Rose said. “Now even N45,000 can’t get me that same quantity of stock fish that N20,000 could get me in November last year.”

She added that customers are no longer buying stock fish like they did last year. “They keep complaining,” she voiced out her frustration, hoping something can be done very soon to bring relief to Nigerians.

Nkechi Ndukwa (not real name), a middle-aged woman with a small kiosk at the same garage market, also voiced her frustration, claiming she was barely keeping her business afloat due to the impact the rapid price increase is having on her business.

“The prices of things go up every day,” she said. “The price you used to stock up yesterday won’t be the same today. It’s already terrible. Profit is almost wiped off because of this rise or upward change.”

She even admitted to selling goods at cost price just to remain in business. “Wetin’ we go do?” she asked, not hoping for any answer from me but hoping that the government would do something quickly to arrest this unpleasant situation caused by the fall of the naira.

For customers, she said that they don’t buy goods like before.

Kehinde Adeniji, a food seller in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State who spoke to our correspondent, said that the rapid increase in the cost of food has reduced her patronage and, by extension, her profits.

She said the prices of items she used in cooking the food change every week, stressing that the quantity of food she sells has dropped.

“A bag of beans used to be N75,000; the same bag is sold for N120,000 now. Even a big tuber of yam, which was sold for N1400 mid-last year, now goes for N3,000.

“All of these factors have made people who normally eat two times a day resort to buying once. On our side, we have not been making enough sales and profits like before,” Kehinde lamented.

Rasheed Mojisola, 28, a salesgirl for Redmi Phones in Ikorodu, was approached by our correspondent and complained about low sales caused by the rapid changes in the prices of their phones.

According to Mojisola, the changes in the prices of these phones are caused by the everyday change in the US dollar as the naira falls, which changes how much they sell their phones.

She said, “The prices of phones I sell change every week. This has resulted in a loss of customers because they can’t keep up with the price changes.

“Because of the rapid change in phone prices, customers avoid buying new phones. Now, for more than 4 weeks, our sales have been down.”

“The high price is affecting my sales target and also makes it difficult to keep up with my responsibilities at home.”

Yusuf Olamilekan, an unemployed man who was at a commercial bank to carry out a transaction, spoke to our correspondent. He complained about how difficult the rising cost of living is, making life unbearable for him and his family.

“To survive has been very difficult,” Olamilekan said. “I can’t keep up with my responsibilities. I can’t even pay for my son to enter the university.”

He continued, “Keeping the home front is still very challenging. If things don’t change within the next few months, I don’t know how I am going to meet up, let alone survive.”

A fabric seller at the Idumota market, Sade Adenekan, said she could not buy any “material” at the moment until the naira falls, blaming the increase in the foreign exchange rate for her reasons.

“Buying clothing materials is now very expensive. Even if we buy it, people will drop it after hearing the price. Materials that I bought to sell for the Christmas period are yet to be sold completely,”  Sade complained.

Yusuf, a chartered accountant employed at a microfinance bank in Lagos, expressed how the escalating prices of essential items have disrupted his plans to marry in January, citing the exorbitant costs as a major hurdle.

He lamented that the money he had saved worth over a million last year, which he collected this January, could only get half of what he had planned.

BusinessDay’s recent report highlighted that the continuous devaluation of Nigeria’s currency is contributing to escalating inflation rates, resulting in a decline in the populace’s living standards.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, inflation has surged for 12 consecutive months, hitting a 20-year peak of 28.92 percent in December. Additionally, food inflation spiked from 32.84 percent to 33.93 percent within the same period, exacerbating hunger among Nigerians.