Whether they are high, middle or low income earners, households in Nigeria are passing through the most difficult conditions, made worse by federal government’s over-rated economic policies of the past six months of coming to power.
Contrary to expectations, the removal of the oil subsidy and the exchange rate floatation are the bitter pills which households, individuals and organisations are struggling to swallow today. President Bola Tinubu met exchange rate at N460 to a dollar; today it is N1,410 to one dollar.
When he in came too, a litre of fuel was selling for N165. Today, the least motorists and households pay for the same product is N650—N700 per litre. Other commodity prices have hit the roof as inflation has surged to 28.9 percent, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) December 2023 figures.
In an interview with BusinessDay Tuesday morning, Olumide Emmanuel, a wealth creation coach, noted that Nigerian households are actually going through hardship in their economic and social lives.
According to him, there are four basic needs of an average Nigerian family or household which he listed as accommodation, feeding, transportation and education of their children. “Any household that is able to manage their expenditure on these basic needs can navigate the current hardship,” he said. He explained these needs with suggestions on how to deal with them.
1. Accommodation: This, he said, is one of man’s basic needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. He noted that a family may have rented three-bedroom apartment for father, mother and two children. “This family does not need this size of apartment. They should either downgrade to two-bedroom apartment or rent out the extra one-room and reduce pressure on their income,” he said. He noted that people can even co-habit in big apartments in order to reduce rent.
2. Feeding: This is another very important human need, he said, wondering why people still insist on three square meals a day. Who says meals must be square or triangular? At a time like this, people can adjust to eating two times a day—one heavy and the other one light. Alternatively, people can come together, pool resources and send one or two persons to market to buy foodstuff which they should share,” he said.
3. Education: Olumide noted that many families make the mistake of joining the bandwagon—sending their children to big and costly schools which, in all sincerity, they can ill-afford. He pointed out that quality education does not reside in high school fees or fanciful and luxury classrooms.
“I think parents should be able to assess themselves properly and know the kind of school that is best suited for their children to avoid undue pressure on their income,” he advised.
4. Transportation: The removal of the oil subsidy has made commuting even within the metropolis a huge project for most families. The pain is almost equal for those who have their own private vehicles and those who have not. Olumide noted that fuelling family cars are no longer tea party as N10,000 fuel can no longer take a car owner to his office and return. Similarly, taking public transport to work is even costlier.
He recommended that car owners living within the same neighbourhood should do car pooling and alternate how cars are to be taken out to work. “Those who live close together and work in the same axis have no need to put all their vehicles on the road at the same time,” he said.
Olumide noted that Nigeria’s galloping inflation is a further validation of the fact that the country is not a productive economy. One of the ways to stop inflation and control the volatile exchange rate is to stop paying for anything that is paid for in dollars.
He added that the country should audit all the domiciliary accounts in the banks in order to free the dollars that are locked up there if they have questionable sources.
He noted further that the principle of economic survival is universal, but the application is personal, advising that people should, as much as possible, reduce their expenditure and increase or diversify their sources of income.
For households, he said, all hands must be on deck to create wealth, adding, “wealth is not sexually transmitted and marriage is not an economic empowerment, especially for the female partners who will always tell you that they have nothing to bring to the table because they are the table instead.”
He advised that time has come for couples to redefine their roles in the marriage and do away with the primordial notion that man called husband in a marriage is the chief organiser who should provide for everybody while the wife sits back and waits for windfall from the husband.