Nigerians share experiences as inflation bites harder

Over 70 percent of Nigerians are struggling financially to survive amid surging prices and dwindling income.

Inflation in Africa’s biggest economy hit 18.6 percent in June this year, the highest in five years, amid an increase in prices of staple foods across the country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Inflationary pressure is forcing many Nigerians to change their shopping habits. For lower-income households with little or no cash cushion, they are making harder choices on what to buy and what not to buy.

BusinessDay spoke to some individuals to know how they are managing financially – whether certain goods have become unaffordable, how rising prices are affecting their buying patterns, and what they are doing to cope with the rising cost of living, among others. Below are their responses.

Osayuwamen Saleh

Osayuwamen Saleh is a media entrepreneur and the host of Nigeria’s Foremost Primetime Talk show called ‘What Are You Saying’ (WAYS).

How are you coping with the rise in food prices? What are you buying less?

Coping for me is completely eradicating wastage and cooking what will be consumed without leftovers because one cannot be sure of stable power to preserve any leftovers these days.

In terms of how much I buy, I have drastically cut down on bulk buying just to make sure nothing expires on me. Plus, you know we are fit farming these days and we eat less (laughing out loud here). This has saved me some good money because I can have a bag of rice that lasts me for a whole year. Sometimes, it may even spill into the next year.

What have you had to forgo in terms of housing, healthcare & higher education?

These three things are really important to me, so I really cannot let go of any. For my health, I am trying to live a clean life by maintaining a healthy balance of food, exercise, rest, and minimal hangouts.

On the subject of housing, thankfully, I live on my property and so rent is not in the picture; however, my utility bills are not for the faint-hearted. What I have done to manage this is cutting off usage of air conditioners and that has impacted tremendously on my bills thus far.

Finally, for education, I have embraced online learning, and even though I still struggle with it, I’m far from where I started. I can navigate online learning platforms better now and this has saved me millions of naira in flights and accommodation costs that I would have incurred from physical learning.

How easy has it been for you to move around?

This has been quite fair apart from the few times we had fuel scarcity. What I do is ensure my fuel tank is always full, and service my car as when due.

Has your income increased in the last year?

This is a bit challenging to answer because I do not earn a salary. My income is dependent on other people’s salaries or revenue. I have had to give discounts for my services as a media consultant/entrepreneur. This is just to get by, as you know; companies are cutting down on their overall budgets, and media budgets are not left out. What I have done is continue to find new clients even as I retain existing clients. My job as a media entrepreneur is to create content for companies and individuals, buy ad slots, and help project clients’ businesses on TV. All this is done through my consulting company, Parallax Consulting Ltd.

What are your fears if the economy continues like this?

The level of desperation and hopelessness is very high right now, and I fear that what we are experiencing today with insecurity (kidnapping, banditry, drugs, fraud, and other social vices) will grow worse if we do not fix our economy. I created and hosted a live weeknight primetime talk show on TV called WAYS (What Are You Saying) and trust me, every time the subject of economy is brought to the fore, every seasoned expert ends up saying the same thing – we need other revenue generation channels.

Read also: Squeezed consumers switch to small stores on rising prices

How this will be done with our economic policies (that only look good on paper) is a major question. I will not leave anyone hopeless, though. What I will advise instead is while we wait for better economic policies that build our economy, let us grow our economy by acquiring a new skill. I am currently doing a course to become a certified product manager and I work remotely as a product intern at WEKURNECT. Trust me when I say that when I am fully baked, not only will I have the capacity to work anywhere in the world, but I will also earn in forex which will make my life a lot easier. The goal is to multiply your income stream, please get that skill today.

Lulu Eniafe, a job seeker

How are you coping with the rise in food prices and what are you buying less?

I have stopped buying food outside or at restaurants because it’s slightly more expensive than home-cooked meals. I don’t buy soda or soft drinks anymore. Since some places sell them for N200 now. I don’t buy bottled water, I just go for pure water, and carry one in my bag from home if I can.

What do you have to forgo in terms of housing, healthcare, and higher education?

I wanted to live on my own after NYSC but the price of rent and household items drove me back to my parents’ house. I can’t forgo much when it comes to healthcare because I have medications I constantly need to get so I try to buy in bulk (3 months) to avoid monthly inflation on them. My plan to also pursue higher education outside the shores of Nigeria has been an expensive pursuit, getting my passport, and application fees are also in dollars with fluctuating exchange rates; I spend a lot applying to these schools.

How easy has it been for you to move around?

The transportation fares are exorbitant at this point. It’s hard to have a transport budget because the fares keep rising. Sometimes I spend almost times two my initial budget, but I don’t go out often and when I do, I have help splitting the fares from friends and family.

Has your income increased in the last year?

Last year I was a corper and my income was my NYSC allowee and the money the school I worked with paid me. I finished NYSC early this year and have since been in the job market. I’ve been sustaining with my savings and help from my family. Basically, my income has reduced and with the increasing cost of living, I’m barely coping.

What are your fears if the economy continues like this?

I’m scared that if the economy continues like this, I will become poor.

Franklin Okeyifa, a teacher

How are you coping with the rise in food prices? What are you buying less?

The rise in food prices is overwhelming. We are just struggling to survive daily. The situation is very bad as income is fast dwindling and employers are raising the cost of their services without raising the salaries of their employees. Currently, I buy less fuel for the generator and my car. Once there is no power supply, I don’t bother turning on the generator, unlike before when I usually start the generator immediately. This is our new reality.

What have you had to forgo in terms of housing, healthcare & higher education?

I initially plan to move to better accommodation in October 2022, but that’s not feasible now. I am even struggling now to pay the rent for my apartment. I also ensure my parent undergoes regular check-ups, but this year they are yet to do any. This is because I have been unable to raise the fund for that. They do not have an HMO as they are retired.

How easy has it been for you to move around?

Moving around has been quite difficult since fuel is needed. Sadly, even with the hike in fuel price, many filling stations still hoard their products. I only visit now when I must go. Transportation fares have almost doubled and it is even tough driving around because of the terrible traffic in Lagos.

Has your income increased in the last year?

Unfortunately, while prices of other stuff are increasing, income has not been so good. Generally, I will say my income increased in the last year, however, the rate of increase is nowhere close to that of the general price level of stuff in the market.

What are your fears if the economy continues like this?

Honestly, it will be disastrous because we are currently experiencing galloping inflation.

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