Nigerians face more economic hardship in Tinubu’s 100 days
Market in Nigeria

By Tumininu Ojelabi Hassan

Economic hardship has been a top issue in Nigeria for over a decade, which worsened in the past eight years, and seems to get even more desperate despite President Tinubu’s promise to reform our economy to bring about growth and development through job creation. His promise to bring renewed hope to Nigerians is at present a bad dream for most people, who have seen their standard of life plunge to an all time low with little hope of immediate change.

Food prices have gone beyond the reach of most people and extreme poverty may have also increased, as his twin policies of subsidy removal and forex rate unification have brought the economy virtually to its knees. Survival has become a daily struggle and the middle has completely vanished with most of our professionals voting with their feet by escaping abroad in what has become a national emergency called japa.

On May 29th, 2023, President Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidy while delivering his inaugural speech. In his words, “On fuel subsidy, unfortunately the budget that I have glimpsed before I assumed office and what I have heard is that no provision is there for fuel subsidy. So fuel subsidy is gone”.

Within 100 days of Tinubu’s administration, Nigeria’s inflation rate rose from 22.04 percent in May 2023 to 22.79 percent and 24.08 percent in June and July respectively with food inflation claiming the highest spot.

According to data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in January 2023, food inflation rate was 24.32 percent, 24.35 percent in February, 24.45 percent in March, 24.61 percent in April, 24.82 percent in May, 25.25 percent in June and it stood at 26.98 percent in July.

Food items

January 2023 August 2023

Long grain rice (Per bag; Per derica)

N25,000; N500

N51,000; N900

Short grain rice (Per bag; Per derica)

N22,000;. N450

N48,000;. N800

Garri (Per kg)

N700 N1500

Palm Oil (5 litres)

N3500 N5000

Groundnut oil (5 litres)

N4200; N5800

Egg (Per crate)

N1100; N2700

Frozen Chicken (A carton; per kilo)

N17,000; N2200

N25,000; N2700

Turkey (A carton; per kilo)

N30,000; N3000

N47,000;. N4700

Titus fish (20kg; per kilo)

N28,000; N1800

N35,000; N2500

Mackerel fish (A carton; per kilo)

N19,000; N1200

N27,000;. N1900

Presently, most Nigerian families barely feed properly as prices of food items have skyrocketed as indicated in the table above. The removal of fuel subsidy amidst the economic crisis is taking a toll on the finances of Nigerians, thereby forcing them to adopt coping mechanisms to ease the pressure of the new reality.

In a country where over 93% of its population live in multidimensional poverty and earn below an average income, spending 90% of one’s income on fuel, food and basic commodities is an evidence that we are in a deep water. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Nigerians have adopted measures to survive the hard times.

Our correspondent interacted with some individuals and business owners who shared their cost saving techniques and their coping mechanisms to survive the hard times.

Bola Oyekan, an accountant, who resides at Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos and works in Victoria island, explained how ride-sharing helped her save cost since the removal of fuel subsidy.

“I spend about N2400 on transport on a daily basis. If this is calculated for four weeks, that’s about 40% of my salary. When bus drivers increased fares following the fuel price hike, I knew I couldn’t cope with the new price because it makes absolutely no sense to spend almost N3000 on transport daily.

“This prompted me to ask if any resident drives to work from Iyana ipaja to Victoria Island on my estate whatsapp group chat. Luckily, I got someone. Three other residents, who also work in Victoria Island showed interest and since then we have been going to work together.

“On days when we close from work almost at the same time, we come back together. Instead of spending almost N3000, I spend just N1500 on transport, which is affordable considering the current situation in the country,” she explained.

Kelechi Anyanwu, a computer engineer and a resident of Alapere area of Lagos state, who works at Marina, Lagos narrated how picking passengers at the bus stop at a reduced price helped him save cost since the removal of fuel subsidy.

“When the fuel price was increased to N568 per liter, I realised I will be spending 65% of my salary on just fuel because everyday, I spend N5680 on 10 liters of fuel, amounting to N28,400 weekly. I had to restrategise and come up with ways to make extra funds at least to reduce cost.


“I started picking people from Estate bus stop to Obalende/CMS at N500 each. On my way back from work, I pick passengers from CMS to Estate at N500 each. N1000 x 4 amounts to N4000 everyday. Picking passengers has helped me save N4000 daily,” he stated.


For Osaretin Idemudia, a self-employed website designer, going out for important purposes only was his way of reducing cost and surviving the hard times as spending 75% of his income on fueling his Toyota corolla vehicle was hard to deal with.


Moshood Bakare, a sound engineer, explained how his family saves cost through buying food in bulk at the Mile 12 international market. Aside this, he revealed that creating a food timetable had helped them reduced food wastage and also save gas.


“In this present economy, men have to be involved in market runs too. I dedicate one Saturday in a month to drive my wife to the market. Mile 12 is our regular market for foodstuffs and we have trusted vendors we patronise. Before leaving home, we call the vendors and tell them everything we want. This way, our time isn’t wasted at the market.


“I work at Herbert Macaulay way, Yaba. I have a vendor at Makoko I buy seafoods from. All I do is call her in the morning, tell her what I want. Then I pick up after work. I usually buy enough to last for the month. In addition, one major factor that has also helped us save cost is, creating a timetable.


“Before now, we could cook 2 different meals at once. But now, we only cook what is on the timetable. This way, we don’t get to waste food and most importantly, we save gas,” he explained.


For Sunday Udoh, an I.T expert, residing in Lekki phase 1 is not feasible any longer as the current economic reality can’t accommodate the rent coupled with other financial responsibilities he has to handle. Relocating to the mainland and changing his children’s school was his way of staying afloat amidst the economic meltdown.


Businesses are not left out in the struggle, as most businesses have bewailed the high cost of production amid the economic crisis, which in turn has led to records of losses and reduced profit margin since the fuel subsidy removal. This recent development prompted all sectors in the country to develop strategies in reducing overhead costs.


A branch manager of a top Nigerian bank while discussing with our correspondent on condition of anonymity revealed that banks are adopting cost saving techniques to reduce overhead costs and to enhance profitability despite the prevailing macroeconomic challenges.


“Before now, the bank usually provides everything we include in the budget. But now, every branch has a budget, which they shouldn’t exceed. As a branch manager, what we do is make sure our expenditure for the month doesn’t exceed the budget because the bank won’t be responsible for it.


“Currently, the new rule in my bank is that, you should not be in the office later than 6pm. This is to save cost on diesel because we spend a huge sum of money on diesel. Once you leave the office later than 6pm, you will be issued a query. We can’t run the generator during working hours and also run it at night.


“When there is no one is in the office, the generator will be out off. We had to enforce this new rule to reduce the usage of diesel. We make sure we round off our activities for the day before 6pm, so no staff member is expected to be working later than 6pm,” she explained.


“Another way we save cost is by reducing the usage of papers, we print only when it is necessary. For instance, when you have BVN related issues and you come to the bank. Instead of printing out the BVN, we send it to the office group chat. The person, who authorized the transaction will pick it up from the group chat to complete the transaction. These are our ways of reducing cost,” she added.


Adewale Omooba, a Team Leader at Total Energies, Ikosi Road decried the reduction in fuel consumption and the low demand of petrol since the removal of fuel subsidy in an interview with our correspondent.


“The demand of petrol has reduced because of the situation in the country, there’s no flamboyant lifestyle anymore. Before now, each member of a particular family can go out with one car. The father will drive one, the mother will drive one, the grown up son/daughter will drive one.


“Due to the present circumstance, the family has resorted to going out with just one car, then the father can drive the mother and son to their respective destinations. Prior to the removal of fuel subsidy, with N3000 fuel, I would drive to the Island to and fro but that’s impossible now because N3000 fuel is just about 5 litres.


“The demand has dropped. Also, it has affected the supply because we supply fuel based on the demand. In a day, we used to sell about 33,000 litres of petrol which is the capacity of a tanker truck but nowadays we sell the same quantity of petrol for two days,” he stated.


Akinwale Mustapha, a tricycle rider plying Ketu to Magodo route shared the effects of fuel subsidy removal on his business, while lamenting the decline in the number of passengers who now prefer to trek especially if it’s a short distance and having to spend N8000 daily on petrol, as opposed to the previous N3500/N4000 he spent on petrol daily.


“The removal of fuel subsidy is really affecting transport business, especially for we that are driving keke Napep. The amount we spend on the fuel we consume daily is triple the amount we used to spend before the removal. If it was double the amount, it would have been bearable.


“Also, we don’t have passengers like before, they prefer to trek to their destination nowadays. Most of them don’t go out like before. Two weeks ago, I discussed with a passenger, I asked him why 9-5 workers aren’t going out like before. He told me some of them work remotely now while some people’s work mode is hybrid.


“Due to this, we don’t make money like we used to. Before, I used to buy about N3500 fuel to work through out the day, at most N4000, but now I buy about N8000 fuel daily in order to work through out the day,” he explained.


Jaiyeoba Moses, a public bus driver plying the Iju Ishaga to Ketu route on a daily basis shared his ordeal as a result of the fuel price hike and how his business had become less profitable


“This business is not profitable any longer. We spend all the money we make on fuel. I used to spend N2000 on fuel to and fro but now I buy about N5000 fuel. We ply this route just twice in a day, which means I spend N10000 on fuel daily.


“We are striving to survive in this business, because it’s better than sitting at home idle. We don’t have passengers like before, people don’t go out unless for important purposes. These days, most people send things through us as a message to the recipient instead of going themselves,” he said.


Churches aren’t exempted from the current situation as they report drop in attendance at weekly services, which has in turn affected the payment of tithes and offerings.


Tunde Emmanuel, a facility manager at one of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) parishes, affirmed to the decline in attendance, however through assistance from some church members, who help to pick up other church members at designated bus stops with their private vehicles, the drop in attendance hasn’t posed a crucial effect on the church. To salvage the situation, the reduction of church programs from three to two weekly was implemented to reduce the overhead costs of the church.


“Everybody is affected with this situation because each and everyone of us make up the church. We tried to limit our programs, we reduced our services from three times in a week to twice weekly. It used to be on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays but now services hold on Sundays and Tuesdays. Also, instead of buying about 150 litres of fuel in a week, we reduced it to 90 litres, which can serve for two sundays. There has also been regular power supply, which has helped reduce cost,” he revealed.


The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) ascribed the rate of inflation to the fallout of economic policy under Tinubu’s administration citing the removal of fuel subsidy and the unification of the exchange rate as factors:


In a bid to contain the rising inflation, the Association urged the Nigerian Government to commit itself to addressing the challenges of insecurity as well as deploying fiscal reforms that prioritise productivity and intensify infrastructural development to stimulate economic activity.


The Director-General of the association, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, stated this in reaction to the recent inflation report, which placed food inflation at 26.98 percent as Headline inflation rose from 22.79 percent in June to 24.08 percent in July.


He decried the adverse effect of the current inflation crisis on manufacturing operations, just like it affects most sectors of the economy, owing to the increasing energy costs and widespread insecurity in food-producing regions.


According to him, the after-effects of the aforementioned factors include an increase in production cost, reduced profit margin, supply chain disruptions, uncertainty in planning, and reduced consumer spending, adding that working with stakeholders could help mitigate inflationary pressures and promote sustained economic growth.


“Some of the ways that will ensure effective and conducive operations of manufacturers in the Nigerian economy includes, the CBN implementing effective exchange rate policies that prevent sharp depreciation of the currency. There should be increased targeted support to the agricultural sector to enhance productivity, reduce reliance on imports and stabilise food prices.


“Nigeria must continue to formulate policies that promote a stable and conducive business environment which can attract both local and foreign investments, leading to increased production, job creation, and ultimately, stability in prices” he suggested.

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