• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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How inflation surge affects non-food items, Nigerians berate high prices

How inflation surge affects non-food items, Nigerians berate high prices

Nigerians, presently are not only battling with the high cost of food items across the nation but are also faced with difficulties purchasing certain essential products for their existence. Between March 7 and 11 2024, Damilola Olufemi went on the streets of Lagos and its axis to engage the residents on the surge of non-food items inflation among Nigerians.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its latest Consumer Price Index report in February, the nation’s inflation rate stands at 29.9 percent. This was a 0.98 percent increase from January 2024 which stood at 28.92 percent.

In December 2023, inflation hit 28.9 percent while it was 28.20 percent in November 2023.

Adeola Kareem, a resident of Lagos decried the inflation surge as it affects his financial commitment and other responsibilities.

“My heart beats faster than usual each time I step out to get something. This has not only affected food items but also other items. Paracetamol is no longer ordinary. What used to be N50 now costs a minimum of N200 based on the product, not to talk of other things,” he said.

The salesman, who expressed a sort of relief, explained that he was only able to manage his finances as his children were no longer staying with him and at least could feed themselves where they were.

“The little money I was sent, despite nothing being manageable at the moment, one still has to manage it. I know they can feed themselves but the situation of the country is not palatable. There are times I think of how this country is and what it is presently. Things are not the way they used to be. N5, N10 no longer have value – it buys nothing,” he lamented.

Parents cry out

A parent, Folusho Abiodun Ogundipe, described the high cost of children’s school fees, books, clothes and wear, and other related finances as a consuming task that needed to be carried out.

While speaking with our correspondent, she explained that the management of her children’s school had notified parents of tuition increments during the first academic session which was implemented in the current second term. She said this made “parents already prepared. Although they didn’t tell parents how much they were going to add to the fees. But of course, we knew that the tuition fee was going to be increased.”

The Lagos-based self-employed said that the present economic situation has been tough on parents with the high cost of living aside from food items.

Citing an example, Ogundipe disclosed that school fees for her children, who are in Nursery sections, were increased by 45 percent from N22,000 to N32,000.

Aside from the tuition fees, children’s school shoes that used to cost about N3,000 now go for N7,000 to N8,000, amongst several other things.

“Or do you want to talk about school bags, lunch bags, school bags?

“If you want to get a quality school bag for a child of four to six years that used to cost about N5,000 to 6,000.

“Now you have to plan and prepare for about N8,000 to N9,000 to get a quality school bag, lunch bag, and other items as such,” she said.

A parent of two, Godwin Paul, flashed back to when schools sent children home because of school fees, however, he said the reverse is the case at the moment as schools are now being considerate.

“Unlike before, schools do send children home for not paying tuition fees but now they are even being considerate in sending the children back home as a result of not paying their tuition fee.”

Despite this, Paul expressed that other necessities to shoulder as a parent have been challenging.

He said it took the grace of God for his children not to drop out of school as he was not able to meet up with tuition fees.

“It wasn’t easy. They almost dropped out of school, if not for God sending a helper. That relieved me. I can’t imagine what the situation would have been by now,” he said.

Collaborating with the lamentation of the two parents on the costs of school items, a bag seller in Oshodi market, Chinaza Paul, explained to our correspondent that the cost of items is no longer what they used to be.

‘No more bags below N5000’

Paul’s shop filled with different sizes of bags for students and travellers. Damilola Olufemi/BusinessDay

Paul in his explanation said the least bag any individual could purchase costs no less than N5,000. This he said depends on the quality of the bag.

“(Portable and relatively the smallest of) leather bags cost N10,000 but I will give you N9,000. Non-leather bags 8,500 last price. It was not like this before,” he said while engaging our correspondent.

Emphasising the persistent rate prices, he advised, “It is better you buy it now before it goes up again.”

In a further conversation with the wear seller, Paul disclosed that inflation also affects the prices of purses and other accessories.

“The smallest unisex purse price costs N5,000 but goes for N4000 as its last price,” he told our correspondent.

Cost of clothes not excluded, ‘Okrika’ sellers lament

Clothing is part of human basic need, which is to be used daily and regularly. A visit to a store in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State shows that prices of clothes have also been affected by inflation. Anthony Okechukwu, who sells clothes within the Ikorodu garage blamed the rise on the foreign exchange.

The graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, who noted that the unavailability of white-collar jobs was the reason for his venturing into the clothing business, said the price of a jogger pant ranges between N9,000 and N12,000. He explained that it was once sold for N5,000 before the price increased.

“It depends. There are some for N12,000. There are some for N9,000. Usually, it is lower than this even in December 2023. But between January and now, it has risen,” he said.

Underwear Prices Skyrocket

 

Sade (right) checks for what she buys in Ikorodu market while Anthony bends down to pack out other wears from his sack. Credit: Damilola Olufemi/BusinessDay.

He explained that the price of a handkerchief has risen from N400 to N700 while male underwear costs no less than N4,000 while the price for females varies on the physique of the lady.

While interacting with two ladies at the stand, one of them who is chubby and identifies herself as Sade, laments that the price of what she buys cannot be compared to a slim body lady because of the size of her body.

“Before, my underwear cost N10,000 but now, I can’t get less than N15,000. Now imagine me spending N30,000 on two inner wears while someone who is not of my body size spends that same amount to buy at least five or even more. Wouldn’t I resolve to surgery to reduce my body size but where is the money,” she said jokingly.

In the case of a second-hand seller popularly called ‘Okrika’, Okechukwu Joy, she narrated that the amount of her income has been reduced due to the increase in products and “unavailability of money” inquiring, “Is it not until someone eats that they would think of buying clothes?”

A pair of shoes discussed with our correspondent, she said costs N6,000. This, she said, was earlier sold for N3,000 between October and December 2023.

She decried the level of patronage and called on the government to address the inflation crisis swiftly.

“The level of patronage I used to have has reduced due to unavailability of money in the country. Salary earners are yet to experience an increase in their salary. The cost of everything is up and has affected my income. It is really bad. Things are not looking friendly,” said Joy.

Another ‘Okrika’ seller Joshua Kelvin, felt dejected by the number of sales made at intervals.

He called on the respective bodies to swift into action and do the needful “before things get out of hand and crime rates become the order of the day.”

Belts Increase By 400%

The prices of belts have also been affected by inflation, says Kalu as he attends to customers. Credit: Damilola Olufemi/BusinessDay.

Among many Nigerians frustrated by the prices of products is Michael Kalu, a belt seller in Berger, Lagos.

When approached by our correspondent, he looked dejected and tired with his clothes in his hands.

A belt was picked by this reporter for purchase which opened the conversation. Pointing to the belt the reporter held, Kalu said, “This costs N2,500 while this (another belt) costs 2000.”

Paul noted that the belts were once sold for N500 and N700, indicating over 400 percent surge in prices

“We don’t know where we are going in Nigeria. The belt of N500 and N700 rose to 1,200, N1500, and now not less than N2,000. It affects everybody,” he said.

Medicine no longer affordable – Patients

A pharmaceutical attendant, Daniel, attending to a customer.

Ogundipe, while decrying the cost of medicine, said she spent N14,600 on malaria and typhoid “which on a normal basis before now does not cost that much.”

Speaking with our correspondent, she said Leonart syrup that she bought for N1,200 a few weeks ago now costs N2,000.

“Camosunate powder for children was 1500, now it’s 2200,” she added.

Recall that in the last couple of months, the exit of some pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria led to the rise of drug prices.

These companies cite inflation among many others as reasons for their exit.

One of the companies was GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company that has announced plans to exit Nigeria, after 51 years of operation in Nigeria.

“In our published Q2 results we disclosed that the GSK UK Group has informed GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria PLC of its strategic intent to cease commercialization of its prescription medicines and vaccines in Nigeria through the GSK local operating companies and transition to a third-party direct distribution model for its pharmaceutical products,” GSK Nigeria Plc said in a statement seen by BusinessDay.

GSK Consumer Nigeria Plc was incorporated in Nigeria on 23rd June 1971 and commenced business on 1st July 1972, under the name Beecham Limited. Its Head office is located at 1 Industrial Avenue, Ilupeju, Lagos.

Another company, Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical multinational, in Nigeria announced its exit in January.

The company added that it had put in place a third-party distributor to handle its commercial portfolio of medicines from February 2024.

Alcoholic drinks and water are not left out

Ololade Kareem, who lamented to our correspondent about the hike in alcoholic beverage prices, said his level of alcohol intake has reduced since the increase.

The chief executive officer of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Hans Essaadi, said that the economic situation in the country has affected Nigerians to the level that citizens can no longer afford to buy beer.

“It has been an unprecedented year for our business in Nigeria. We saw a significant decline in the mainstream lager market as a result of Nigerian consumers no longer able to afford a Goldberg after a hard day’s work,” he said.

In a letter dated Monday, February 12, 2024, Nigerian Breweries announced an increase in its products from Monday, February 19, 2024.

Three weeks later, in a letter dated March 8, 2024, it again announced an increment in prices of beers, saying “As earlier informed we will review the prices of some of our SKUs effective Friday 15th March 2024.”

According to the company, the review became necessary because of the continued rising input cost and the need to mitigate the impact.

“All open orders in our system at 00.00hrs on Friday 15th of March, 2024 will be invoiced at the new prices,” it added.

Kareem, a self-employed youth, said he takes the drinks to “calm his mental stress” but since the prices have been increased, it has become a problem for him.

“The prices affect me. I take the drinks to relieve myself because the stress in this country is too much and the politicians in Nigeria are not performing their tasks. It should be addressed,” he said.

Another Nigerian, Omolola Pedro, slammed the increase and described it as disturbing.

Just like Kareem, she said, “Many Nigerians tend to ease stress with alcohol intake.”

“The increase in the prices of alcoholic drinks is only a reflection of the country’s economic state.

“For a country that constantly drains its citizens, alcohol should be affordable,” she cries while speaking with our correspondent.

The price of bottled and sachet water, popularly known as pure water, is not left out in the price.

A visit to Lagos streets and Ogun State shows that a sachet of water is sold for N20 while a bottle costs N200 and in some places N250 while soft drinks are sold for N300.

The Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP) had warned of a potential price increase for sachet water due to a surge in production costs.

“The cost of production is high. Last year, we bought nylon for N1,100 per kg. Today, it’s N3,600-N3,700 per kg. The cost of treatment chemicals has also increased significantly. These material costs have tripled in just one week,” ATWAP said.

The association highlighted the financial constraints faced by water producers, with many relying on personal funds or loans to operate. They emphasised their reluctance to raise prices but stressed the need for adjustments due to the unsustainable cost environment.

“We understand the burden on ordinary Nigerians, and we don’t want to see them paying more than N20 per sachet. However, the rising cost of production, including diesel prices, has significantly impacted our operations,” it added.

House owner paused building project over cement price increase

The price of cement in major shops is sold for between N8,000 and N10,000.

Ilesanmi Samuel, a civil servant, while narrating how the cost of building materials hauled him from continuing his building project said it has been draining for him as a father of three, aside from other financial responsibilities.

“I have no other option than to stop the building project. Cement sold for N4,000 skyrocketed to what I can hardly purchase. It has been draining while I have other responsibilities on the ground.”

He called on the government to find a remedy to the current hardship so as not to increase the nation’s housing deficit.

Presently, Nigeria’s housing deficit stands at 28 million.

Cardoso vows to reduce inflation rate in 2024

In December 2023, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, vowed to lower 2024 inflation to 21.4 percent as against 28.92 percent it stood at by the end of 2023.

Hopeful Cardoso expressed that the outlook for decreasing inflation in 2024 will have a profound impact on businesses, providing a more predictable cost environment and potentially leading to lower policy rates, stimulating investment, fuelling growth, and creating job opportunities.

“Inflationary pressures are expected to decline in 2024 due to the CBN’s inflation-targeting policy, which aims to rein in inflation to 21.4 percent,” he said.

But the question on the lips of many Nigerians currently with the rise in prices and economic hardship is, “Will the cost of products reduce”?

NBS inflation data

January 2024 inflation data by the NBS rose to 29.90 percent as against 28.92 percent in December 2023.

The report by the custodian of official statistics in the country read, “In January 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 29.90 percent relative to the December 2023 headline inflation rate which was 28.92 percent.

“Looking at the movement, the January 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.98 percent points when compared to the December 2023 headline inflation rate. Similarly, on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 8.08 percent points higher compared to the rate recorded in January 2023, which was 21.82 percent.”

“This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in January 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., January 2023).

Ex-president suggests an approach to combat inflation

A former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, among many other Nigerians has urged the Federal Government to implement the Zimbabwean approach as a solution to the incessant inflation increase in the country.

According to him, Zimbabwe has recently faced what Nigerians are facing and overcame it, adding that Zimbabwe would have a resourceful approach to Nigeria.

He said, “When the time is rough and tough, the tough must get going. No problem is new and no problem will be permanent. Committing suicide is not the end of any problem, confront it and take it to God because he could do anything. When you have a problem, look at those who have had this problem before and how they overcame it.

“We have this problem of galloping inflation in the country now but do we have a country with such problems recently? Yes, we do, Zimbabwe had this problem recently. Shouldn’t we ask them how they did it even if our approach is different? Even if whatever we shall be doing will be different, we can ask questions to navigate our way out.”

FG blames Buhari for Nigeria’s inflation surge

The federal government through the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Wale Edun, blamed former President, Muhammad Buhari, for the economic failure battling the nation.

Edun explained that the N22.7tn printed by the CBN through Ways and Means overdraft for the Federal Government from 2015 to 2023, under former President Muhammadu Buhari, was a reason for the country’s current inflation.

He added that the result of the eight years of printing money without productivity is the high inflation facing the country.

“We talked about inflation, and you have helped to solve that. Where has it come from?

“It came from the eight years of just printing money not matched by productivity. It’s not like when you earn dollars and you free the naira alongside it, although there’s even a better way than that. But that’s still not as bad.

“It’s not as if the money is matched by productivity increase in output. It is not. And what happened was that for eight years, the weak were left to their own devices. It is the privileged few that took everything.”

He added, “You distinguished senators have helped. You have given us the mandate to raise N7tn, which we will do by sucking money from the market, using it to pay back the central bank, and giving the government a balanced book. We are going to audit even the N22.7tn printed aimlessly.”

The Minister, however, promised that different damage-mitigating economic policies would be set by the federal government and would very soon, rescue the nation’s inflation rate.

IMF reacts to Nigeria inflation, backs CBN MPC decision

The International Monetary Fund has backed the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBN to raise the benchmark borrowing rates by 400 basis points to 22.75 percent from 18.75 percent.

According to CBN data, this is the highest MPC rate ever and is aimed at mopping up excess naira liquidity.

The IMF added that the MCPc’s conclusion would assist contain inflation and pressures on the naira.

The international financial institution said, “The team welcomed the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to further tighten monetary policy. The MPC increased the policy rate by 400 basis points to 22.75 percent for a total tightening of 1,025 basis points since May 2022. This decision should help contain inflation, which reached 29.9 percent year-on-year in January 2024, and pressures on the naira.”

The IMF expressed further that Nigeria’s economic outlook is challenging.

“Economic growth strengthened in the fourth quarter, with GDP growth reaching 2.8 percent in 2023. This falls slightly short of population growth dynamics.

“Improved oil production and an expected better harvest in the second half of the year are positive for 2024 GDP growth, which is projected to reach 3.2 per cent, although high inflation, naira weakness, and policy tightening will provide headwinds,” it added.

24m Nigerians pushed into poverty in five years

The World Bank in its December 2023 Nigeria Development Update report expressed that inflation pushed 24 million Nigerians into poverty.

It said the number of poor rose from 79 million in 2018 to 104 million in 2023, with urban poor—more exposed to inflation—increasing from 13 to 20 million. Meanwhile, poor people in rural areas increased from 67 to 84 million.

“Sluggish growth and rising inflation have increased poverty from 40 per cent in 2018 to 46 per cent in 2023, pushing an additional 24 million people below the national poverty line.

In the medium term, the recent reforms will reverse this trend through higher growth and lower inflation, but to a limited extent, with poverty rates decreasing from 46 per cent in 2024 to 44 per cent in 2026,” the report said.