Godwin Dafe is a 45-year-old human resource executive who lost his job with one of the manufacturing firms in 2021 after the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic forced several businesses to either cut down on their labour force or close shop.
Since then, Dafe has been in the job-hunting business for over two years now. But to survive, the father of three has been doing one part-time job or the other to provide for his children and wife but life in Nigeria is definitely moving from bad to worse.
With the current economic situation in Nigeria especially with the issue of the subsidy removal crisis, which started at the beginning of the Bola Tinubu administration and escalated the petrol pump prices from about N195/litre to the present N626/litre, Dafe and his family has been living from hand to mouth.
According to him, the salary from the factory work that he is presently managing is barely taking care of him and his family due to the skyrocketing prices of food items in the market today.
“My salary is below N80,000 and that is what I use in running a home of five people. The situation has become worse that one could hardly eat two decent meals in a day due to the situation of things. My take home pay does not take me home anymore because it is from it that I pay my children’s school fees, provide food and other basic needs for the home, pay house rent and also transport myself to work on a daily basis.
“The situation is getting complicated such that one has been living on salary advances and loans to make ends meet. Things have gone so bad because one has been servicing loans from the little salary that I am being paid. Before the middle of the month, one will run out of cash,” he said.
Dafe is not alone in the cost-of-living crisis that many families are facing in Nigeria today as Ifeanyi Fabian, a professional electrician was recently forced to relocate his family from Lagos to the village due to his inability to maintain an apartment in Lagos.
According to him, the money he was earning from his work was no longer enough to pay the rent and feed his family of six.
Read also: Nigeria’s children face extreme poverty
He said his wife, who is a teacher with one of the private schools in Lagos, was also not earning sufficient pay to give him a helping hand in paying the bills at home.
“The hardship became unbearable, and we could not pay the rent anymore, only for our landlord to give us an eviction notice. Nigeria is no longer easy to live in, gas is now very expensive at over 1,000 per kg, and prices of other staple foods are also unaffordable such that in most cases, we end up eating only once a day.
“We have to stay with friends and family, and my kids were forced to drop out of school for over a session until I decided to take my children to the village to stay with my parents,” Fabian said.
According to the World Bank, the Nigeria Development Update report for June 2023, revealed that an estimated 4 million Nigerians were pushed into poverty between January 2023 and May 2023.
This is as the soaring inflation continues to eat deep into the purchasing power of many Nigerians, taking staple foods from the table of many and increasing the poverty level in the country.
The World Bank further explained that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows that 89.8 million Nigerians fell below the poverty line at the start of 2023, and with an additional 4 million making it 93.8 million in May of 2023 and this accounts for 43 percent of Nigeria’s 216 million people.
According to the latest NBS data, Nigeria’s food inflation rate rose to 26.72 percent in September 2023 amid harsh economic realities.
While poor Nigerians are making sacrifices for the survival of the nation by enduring the hardship that comes with adjustment in petrol pump prices, the political office holders seem not to care.
Rather than Nigerian politicians cutting the cost of governance, they are busy living large and spending the scarce resource on luxury.
For instance, the current leadership of the National Assembly recently used the scarce dollars to import over 400 new cars for members.
According to Rotimi Akin, spokesperson for the House of Assembly, the109 Toyota Land Cruisers were for senators and 2023 Toyota Prado were bought for 360 members of the House of Representatives.
This move elicited criticism from well meaning Nigerians as Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of Education, questioned why political office holders should be spending scarce public resources on luxury cars at a time majority of Nigerian citizens cannot feed, transport themselves, pay school fees and hospital bills due to cost of living crisis.
“We that are into the business of buying and selling are not finding it easy at all because when one buys items to sell, the person will finish selling only for he or she to take both the capital and the profit to go to market to restock,” Juliana Osaro, a trader told BusinessDay.
The mother of two, who sells children’s wears in a Lagos market, said that business is not only slow but also very difficult to break even due to the economic situation in the country.
She said that there are days that people will transport themselves from their houses to the market only for them not to sell anything for the day.
“Imagine paying almost over N3,000 for daily transport without selling anything to cover for the daily expenses. How can a mother with two children put food on the table and provide for the needs of her children in a situation where prices are making things unaffordable?” Osaro said.
She further said that Christmas is less than two months away from now yet there are no signs of upbeat in business activities due to the level of poverty in the country.
“Today, many Nigerian families only pay attention to food even when many cannot provide good food for their families. The number of people begging in the streets of Lagos is increasing by the day due to the bad economic situation. I boarded a commercial bus only for a full-grown man to approach the vehicle to beg for food because according to him, he had not eaten for a whole day,” Osaro said.
BusinessDay market survey shows that food prices have been skyrocketing in recent times as a basket of fresh tomatoes, which was formerly sold for below N20,000 during its season, now cost as much as N100,000; a 50kg of rice now cost as much as N55,000 and above; a 50kg bag of beans cost as much as N40,000 and a 50kg bag of yellow garri cost as much as N22,000.
Anthony Elemchi, a civil engineer, said in addition to the problem of poverty, food inflation and other cost of living crises, that sending one’s children to school in Nigeria has also become a difficult task.
He said that tertiary institutions in the country including government-owned ones are also increasing their tuition fee, which is making things very difficult for parents.
Citing an example, he said the tuition fee of his son who is in year three in one of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria was increased from N90,000 to N175,000 for the 2023/2024 academic session.
According to him, the tuition fee is aside from the accommodation fee, feeding allowance and transportation cost to return to school.
He said by estimation, the return to school by his son will cost his family nothing less than N600,000 for a child who is in a Federal Government-owned university.
Elemchi said that if what is happening in Nigeria today continues unabated, more people will be pushed below the poverty line before the end of the year.
“Many are now under pressure since the pump price of petrol was increased to over N600/litre. Prices of food became uncontrollable because of the high transportation costs because food sellers would end up transferring the cost to the final consumers. I learned that the Federal Government has reintroduced an intervention to prevent the petrol prices from hitting N1000/litre but the deed had been done already,” he said.
Many Nigerians are still hoping that the All Progressive Congress government led by Bola Tinubu as president, will in the near future deliver on their campaign promises of mitigating the suffering of the average Nigerian.