• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Organised begging rising as Nigeria’s inflation keeps accelerating

Organised begging rising as Nigeria’s inflation keeps accelerating

The worsening cost of living in Africa’s biggest economy is fueling an increase in organised begging as accelerating inflation continues to rob households of their spending power.

The number of people begging almost daily while travelling or commuting within the Lagos metropolitan is increasing and the number of children begging for alms is on the rise.

“Daily I get nothing less than three messages from family and friends asking me for help. The begging for support is increasing as inflation is also accelerating,” Ronke Adeniyi, a consultant with a top consultancy firm in Ikeja.

“This is because of the worsening cost of living. Most Nigerians are struggling to survive daily and inflation keeps accelerating to worsen the situation,” Adeniyi said.

Nigeria reported a monthly inflation rate of 22.41 percent in May, the highest in 17 years for a country where about 133 million are multidimensionally poor, a significant 63 percent of the population.

The effects of the inflation scourge are evident across the country with the situation worse in rural communities.

Bimbo Adewunmi, a civil servant said things are really difficult for most Nigerians especially fixed-income workers, saying she also depends on her siblings for support as her salary can barely care for her and her children.

“Everything is expensive in Nigeria now, especially food. I beg my younger brother monthly who works with an oil firm for support,” Adewunmi said.

“I also get calls and messages from friends and church members asking for support. Salaries cannot be enough for households as inflation continues to erode its buying power,” she said.

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“People must survive and the only way aside from stealing is to beg,” she added.

Subsidy removal, naira devaluation, and the implementation of a value-added tax on diesel imports are causing further spikes in the prices of goods and amplifying a cost-of-living crisis in Africa’s biggest economy.

The World Bank, in its latest Nigeria Development Update report for June 2023, said the loss of purchasing power from high inflation has increased poverty in the short term, pushing an estimated four million Nigerians into poverty between January – May 2023.

The global bank estimates based on the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data show that 89.8 million Nigerians fell below the poverty line at the start of 2023, with an additional four million making it 93.8 million in May of 2023.

Food prices are up by over 150 percent, and transportation costs have almost doubled respectively year-on-year, according to BusinessDay’s market checks.

“Surviving is getting difficult daily for Nigerians, especially for those in the rural arrears where there are no opportunities,” Chidi Amadi, a teacher at a private secondary school in Ikeja said.

“The causes of inflation keep growing daily in the country which is declining the standard of living, thus forcing people who can steal to result in begging,” he said.

Real wages, which reflect the power of employee pay after accounting for inflation, have fallen in Nigeria by 100 percent, thus making Nigerians face increasing pressures daily and forcing them to make hard choices as prices of all products continue to rise.

For lower-income households with little or no cash cushion, they are making harder choices such as what to buy or not, experts say.

“We have to move into my husband’s family house as our income can no longer sustain our daily expenses as prices of everything continue to surge,” said Adeyinka Abimbola, a 37-year-old teacher.

“We no longer worry about house rent and feeding as my in-laws are retired civil servants and they have been supportive of us since we moved in,” she said.