• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Crippling inflation and insecurity: How Nigeria’s economy is failing its people

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Nigerians are unhappy. Why? Because of hunger. The vulnerable are crying for help as the price of food skyrockets. While pepper and tomatoes are now luxuries, dried pepper, popularly called ‘Ata-gbigbe’ in Yoruba, has become an unaffordable option for cooking stew or soup, particularly in the South-West.

Every day, Nigerians are grappling with an increasingly dire situation as food prices soar beyond reach. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), food inflation has risen to 40.66 percent from 40.53 percent. Meanwhile, wages remain stagnant, and daily life is further disrupted by pervasive insecurity. This is a tough period, to say the least.

Families are making impossible choices between feeding their children and paying for essential services such as healthcare and education. Even businesses that produce staple foods for human survival struggle to stay afloat.

Read also: Navigating the Limits of Stress in the Nigerian Economy

The surge in food prices has reached a critical point. The cost of basic items like peppers and tomatoes has soared, pushing them out of reach for many. As a result, dried pepper, once a staple in many kitchens, has become a luxury item. This shift underscores the severity of the food crisis.

In the heart of Ogun State, Ebenezer Odunbaku, a master baker of ‘Ase-Oluwa’ bread along the Akute-Ajuwon route, embodies the resilience and struggle of many Nigerians in these challenging times. “The economy is now taking away what business once provided,” he laments. His story, one of success turned to struggle, highlights the broader economic turmoil gripping Nigeria.

 “Without decisive action, the hunger crisis will only deepen, leading to greater social unrest and further economic instability.”

Born into the bakery business, Ebenezer thrived, building a house and owning multiple cars by 2001. But today, soaring exchange rates and inflation have crippled his livelihood. “The price of flour is now N63,000 from N48,000 in January 2024,” he notes, a staggering increase that has eroded his once-thriving business.

Over the past twelve months, his struggles have intensified, forcing him to contemplate a plan B to avoid complete financial ruin. “If you have 1 million naira now, within a few weeks, you will find yourself asking for a loan from colleagues,” he says, underscoring the dire situation.

The plight of Ebenezer is not an isolated incident. Oni Jacob, another Nigerian, echoes the sentiment: “We know Nigeria’s problems are not new, but it has never been this bad. Honestly, we need food to eat. Things are very expensive, to be sincere. I can no longer save because I need to survive first.”

Ebenezer and Oni’s stories are poignant examples of how Nigeria’s economic crisis is impacting everyday lives. The cost of living has skyrocketed, and many Nigerians are struggling to make ends meet. The economy, once a source of pride and stability, now feels like an anchor dragging them down.

The regrettable situation we find ourselves in in this country is a result of human factors. For 2024, Nigeria is ranked 39th out of 145 countries in the annual Global Firepower (GFP) review, with a PwrIndx score of 0.5619 (where a score of 0.0000 is considered ‘perfect’).

Read also: Debunking Economic Myths: Mono-economy is always not bad

Newsrangers’ 2024 ranking shows that Nigeria’s military is ranked 5th in Africa, yet insecurity persists as if these threats are more powerful than Nigeria’s forces. It is naive to believe that the food crisis can be resolved without addressing the underlying security problems. Farmers in northern Nigeria, for example, are unable to tend to their fields due to threats of violence, with some even paying militias for protection just to access their farms. This disruption in the food supply chain is a direct consequence of the deteriorating security situation.

The plight of ordinary Nigerians is a cry for help. The government must recognise the urgent need for intervention. Policies that stabilise food prices, support local agriculture, and ensure food security are essential. Without decisive action, the hunger crisis will only deepen, leading to greater social unrest and further economic instability.

In these challenging times, the resilience of the Nigerian people is tested daily. Yet, their enduring spirit remains a beacon of hope. The government’s role is crucial in transforming this hope into tangible relief. By addressing the root causes of food inflation and implementing sustainable economic policies, there is a pathway to alleviate the suffering and build a more stable future for all Nigerians.

Nigerians are not just unhappy; they are in distress. The soaring food prices are not merely an economic issue but a humanitarian crisis that demands immediate and effective action.