• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s economic crisis changing social dynamics

…As wedding spends, ceremonies reduce

Nigeria’s economic situation has started to take a toll on people’s lifestyles as the escalating cost of living crisis pressures many into keeping a low profile.

Due to the skyrocketing prices of commodities, families now struggle to feed and pick up basic bills as income continues to shrink in the face of accelerating inflation.

Today, house rents and school fees have skyrocketed, the cost of feeding has more than doubled while transport fares are increasing daily without a corresponding increase in income.

This is worse as the national minimum wage is currently at N30,000 monthly, equally about $20.2 at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) rate of N1,485.36 per dollar as of June 21.

The economic situation of Nigerians has worsened in the past one year year since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu instituted several economic reforms including fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange liberalisation policies.

These policies have impoverished many Nigerians as the increasing energy cost continues to pressure both businesses and Nigeria’s naira, resulting in uncontrollable prices of food items.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s food inflation rate reached 40.66 percent in May, on a year-on-year basis, representing a significant increase from 24.82 percent.

Given the situation, organised labour insists on the Federal Government reviewing the national minimum wage to N250,000 about $168.31 while the government only agreed to pay N62,000 about $41.74.

While the minimum wage controversy between the Federal Government and organised labour keeps dragging, costs continue to rise causing a decline in social lifestyle.

Many Nigerian youths no longer consider getting married due to their poor economic situation, high rate of unemployment, and inability to take up new responsibilities due to shrinking spending power.

This has led to a reduction in the number of marriages and wedding ceremonies that are held in churches today. Also, people in the business of selling wedding items are now experiencing a lull in sales.

“I was planning to get married this year, but the plan has been put on hold because of the country’s economic situation. My fiancée and I have been saving to rent a good accommodation before settling down, but things are not adding up financially,” said Seyi Opeyemi, a 35-year-old accountant.

Opeyemi said he and his fiancée had been planning the marriage thing for a while now without success since his monthly salary barely allows him to cater for his ageing parents, his younger ones and himself.

“The worst is that we don’t know when to fix the wedding date anymore. I live in a single-room apartment and hoping to upgrade to a mini apartment before getting married, which is now difficult. Today, a mini apartment in Lagos goes for between N750,000 and N800,000 per annum in most suburbs depending on location,” he said.

Opeyemi, who claimed to be paying about N180,000 per annum rent in his single-room apartment, said it has been difficult to upgrade to paying house rent of over 317 percent increase.

Karl Marx says that man’s economic condition depends on the state’s economy. Presently, several youths of marriageable age are not thinking about marriage because of the state of the economy leading to a noticeable drop in wedding ceremonies conducted in churches and other places.

Ifeoluwa Ajayi, a young nurse, told our correspondent that she has been making marriage plans with her fiancé for a long time without success due to poverty in the land.

She said the topic had become worrisome because her suitor explained the reasons they can’t get married now.

According to her, her suitor had no money to move forward with the wedding plans.

Chioma Osita, a lady of about 40 years old, said she feared that her food stuff business may pick up the bills for the wedding if they decide to move forward with the marriage plans and wedding preparation in her fiancé’s present financial state.

“My fiancé has been doing menial jobs in Lagos until he was forced to leave Lagos for Abuja in search of greener pasture. We agreed the wedding would take place this year, but the way things are right now, getting married anytime soon doesn’t appear possible,” she said.

BusinessDay Sunday discovered that even those who summoned the courage to get married to their heartthrobs are now doing so without holding a high-profile wedding ceremony.

Many now prefer to go to the civil registry with few family members and friends, after which they proceed to the church for marriage blessings. This way, they save costs from holding elaborate parties, thereby focusing on what is important, which is building a successful home.

“We wedded in April with just 10 people present as our witnesses. My husband and I only went to the civil registry on a workday with just our parents and close friends. After the ceremony, we had a small gathering that cost us less than N100,000,” said Joy Momoh, a Benin-based 28-year-old teacher.

According to her, she and her husband proceeded to the church the next Sunday for marital blessings.

“People borrow to have societal weddings, and some owe debts after the wedding, which is not the best. This is not the case for me as we are now at peace with ourselves because we do not owe anybody.

“My husband and I are civil servants with the Edo State government. Our salaries are not that much because we are beginners, but the most important thing is that it won’t be permanent. This is why we prefer beginning small in a way that would not hurt nor pressure us,” she said.

This seems to be a trend among youths as Obioma Ezeh, a young IT expert, said he wedded in the civil registry with his wife in February this year.

Ezeh said the initial estimate they got was close to N5 million to do the traditional marriage and have their dream white wedding with flamboyant ceremony.

“After settling the traditional marriage rites, we went to the registry to wed and church for marital blessings. To gather people and give them food costs a lot of money these days not to mention paying for drinks, the venue, and buying wedding dresses, suits and dresses for bridal girls among other expenditures,” Ezeh said.

According to him, the economic situation is now teaching Nigerians how to live within their means as it is done overseas.

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