• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Corpers scout for extra jobs to cope with cost-of-living crisis

Corpers scout for extra jobs to cope with cost-of-living crisis

Many graduates who are serving their fatherland, popularly called ‘corpers’, are groaning under the weight of the soaring cost of living, which has forced some to scout for extra jobs to augment the stipend from the government, writes IFEOLUWA ADEBAYO

For Alimot Anifowoshe, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the monthly allowance of N33,000 from the federal government usually lasts for a week, with a large chunk of it spent on transportation.

“For some of us who have to transport ourselves to our PPA (place of primary assignment), half of the money goes into transportation, with the remaining unable to do the bare minimum, especially in this hard time. Some of us even have to depend on our parents and community for sustainability,” she said.

She has had to be on the lookout for opportunities to earn more money by writing short articles for blogs and social media pages.

“The money is not constant or even enough because, most times, there won’t be enough light to power my phone to do the jobs, and I don’t have a power bank,” she said. “Any money that comes in goes into transportation and feeding most of the time, and I barely feed well.”

Alimot, who is serving in Ogun State, urged the federal government to do something to alleviate the plight facing corps members.

Kehinde Oluwaseun, a graduate of Tai Solarin University of Education who is serving in Lagos State, said her allowance has always been for only transportation and house rent, and it lasts for two weeks.

“I had to always source for ushering jobs or sales representative roles for the weekend just to make ends meet.”

She manages to get gigs three times a month, with a pay of N5,000 per day most times.

“My house rent is N14,000 per month, and transportation costs N20,000 per month due to the far distance. I end up spending N34,000 at the end of the month just on house rent and transportation,” Oluwaseun said.

Agogo Hotepo, a corps member serving in Bayelsa State, is an English teacher in a community secondary school.

“I do not have another source of income apart from the N33,000 monthly allowance from the federal government. Sometimes, the naval base situated beside my primary place of assignment extends her generosity to the corps members by feeding us when they are capable, and that’s how I have been surviving here,” he said.

He lamented that the prices of groceries have gone through the roof and that the allowance does not sustain him beyond the middle of every month.

“We were told that we would be given N10,000 by the Bayelsa State Government every month, yet till the eighth month of my service year, I have not received any payment from them. Please, if the allowance can be increased to N66,000, we would be grateful,” he said.

Adesola Adeusi, another NYSC member who stays in a corpers’ lodge, said although her PPA in Ogun State compensates him with N10,000 per month, survival is still a struggle, especially

He added that the N33,000 allowance doesn’t even cover his food and transportation for the month, and he always cuts costs and manages resources.

“A sachet of water is now N50 and the cost of transportation increased by 60 percent within a few months. With everything getting more expensive, it’s getting harder to make ends meet because I don’t have another source of income apart from the teaching job. The federal government should please consider an increment soon,” he said.

Over the past nine months, the inflation rate in Africa’s most populous nation has accelerated to a record high, largely on the back of federal government reforms, including the removal of petrol subsidy and naira devaluation.

The country’s headline inflation rate rose to 31.70 percent in February this year from 29.90 percent in the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Food inflation, which constitutes 50 percent of the inflation rate, quickened to 37.92 percent from 35.41 percent.

The World Bank’s latest Nigeria Development Update report revealed that rising inflation and sluggish growth in the country increased the number of poor people to 104 million in 2023 from 89.8 million at the start of the year.

In theory, President Bola Tinubu’s reforms are needed to put Nigeria on a higher growth path, but implementation has been hasty and inflation has been allowed to rise to decades-long highs, according to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a global leader in business intelligence and market insights.

“As the crisis is distinctly policy-induced, there is a serious risk of mass protests and strikes. Given the potential threat of industrial action on a scale not seen since 2012, the government has been forced to backtrack in some areas, notably on petrol subsidies,” the EIU said.

Ademola Oni-Orisan, a corp member in Kwara State, said her workplace pays him N5,000 in cash at the end of every month, and it is not even up to the money he spends on transportation.

“If only the government could look into the situation of the people serving in reserved areas like Ilorin, Kwara State, and help us add to the monthly allowance, maybe this struggle won’t be this much. I fend for myself as I struggle to pay bills too. I can’t even boast of two square meals a day,” he said.

Efetobore Emagun, another corps member serving in Ogun State, said: “As a pharmacist in a hospital, surviving on the N33,000 monthly allowances and the little allowance provided by my place of primary assignment has been difficult with the high cost of living.

“My PPA compensates me with just N20,000 per month and this is not enough to cover transportation costs and foodstuffs, among others.”

She added that every month, she tries to budget and cut down costs to ensure that the income is enough for the month, but it’s always so difficult, and she always ends up asking her parents for financial support.

“I don’t have any other source of income aside from my allowance and the little salary from my PPA because my job is quite demanding, so the only ‘other source of income’ is from my parents. Please the federal government should do something about the corpers’ allowance,” she said.

Analysts at SBM Intelligence said in a recent report that despite cost-cutting and inflation management measures, Nigerian households spend 97 percent of everything they earn solely on food.

“The Tinubu administration has its work cut out – arresting spiralling insecurity, tackling grinding poverty, enhancing economic opportunity, and forging a sense of national consciousness. It is safe to say that it is not off to a great start,” they said.

A recent outlook report by the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Food Program, and others projected that Nigeria and other countries across the West Africa region are expected to see increased prices of staple foods such as rice, maize, millet, and cereals, among others, in 2024.

“Staple prices currently remain above the five-year average across the region. This is attributable to a combination of factors, including production deficits, trade restrictions, insecurity in the Sahel, elevated global prices, high transaction costs, and currency depreciation in the coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea,” it said.