…Ways Nigerians adjust to rising prices of goods, services
BY VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA and LAWRENCE ENYOGASU
THE times are hard. Nigerians complain everyday, albeit helplessly as they watch prices of foodstuff, goods and services soar. This is the direct implication of the recent fuel price hike by the Federal Government. The impact has in no small way forced Nigerians to adopt several austerity measures in their personal survival plans.
The Federal Government had through the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu, announced an increase in the price of petrol from N86.50 per litre to N145 per litre, citing the inability of oil marketers to meet their portion of total national supply of PMS.
While making the fuel price hike announcement, the Minister had said “We share the pains of Nigerians but, as we have constantly said, the inherited difficulties of the past and the challenges of the current times imply that we must take difficult decisions on these sorts of critical national issues.” He sounded prophetic. Today, Nigerians have continued to groan under the weight of the price increase. For instance, a bag of rice which used to sell at N8,000 now costs N16,000 and above. A paint bucket of rice now costs N1,259 as against N1,000. The same measure of garri now sells at N700 while it was sold for N500 before now. They both serve as the commonest meal for the rich and the poor masses.
Other essential items such as fresh tomatoes, is not only scarce but exorbitant. A basket now costs as much as N30,000 as against N8,000 it used to be. A food vendor told Saturday Sun about her survival strategy in this period of tomato scarcity. “I buy plenty of fresh pepper, (though pepper is also expensive), buy onions, grind them together and add tomato paste, and it comes out well. I can’t afford to buy fresh tomatoes now; it is too expensive. How much would I make if I spend so much money just to buy tomatoes, what about other items?”, she asked.
When it comes to cooking oil, the story is not different. A bottle of palm oil, which was sold at N200 is now N300. A bottle of groundnut oil now goes for N300 instead of N200. A small size of tuber of yam which would ordinarily cost N200, now goes for N400.
“What is this country turning to?”, queried Mrs. Ogbuefi Agnes who said she came to Lagos from the Eastern part of the country to take care of her daughter who just gave birth. She went on lamenting: “I am sorry for the children of this generation. I have never witnessed this kind of thing in my life. The money one would have used to prepare a pot of soup and stew, cannot even prepare a good pot of soup now”.
A cup of soup ingredients such as ogbono and egusi which were sold for N150 and N210 are now selling for N350 and N600 respectively. Mrs. Uche Echegusi who sells food items complained that several people have withdrawn from the business. “These products are sold with little profit as transportation and other levies have taken all the profit”.
Those in the confectionary business have also jacked up their prices by about five percent. The price of bread, which is a staple food for the masses, has also gone up. Now, a loaf of bread is N300 instead of N200. A pack of corn flakes is sold between N350 and N400 instead of N300 in some areas. Small scale industries also reflects these increases in their services. In some areas like Falomo in Ikoyi where male hair cut costs N500, it is now N1,000.
Those that grind items like tomatoes, pepper, beans have increased their services from N70 in some areas to N100, no matter how small the quantity of the item.
Hairdressers, vulcanisers are also lamenting. “We used to charge N50 to pump a tyre, but it is now N100 because of the increase in petrol price. This is made worse because we don’t have electricity supply. So one is forced to buy fuel,” says Suleiman Olatidoye, a vulcaniser at Ijesha area of Lagos.
Checks by Saturday Sun indicate that some of the small scale business operators who can’t afford to operate on power generating set, especially men, have packed up and gone into commercial motorcycle riding called Okada. “I used to operate a barbing salon but I don’t get enough customers these days to cover my expenses if I run on generator”, Ugochukwu Okeke said.
Car owners device other means of movement
The increase in pump price has not only affected prices of commodities, it has also affected people’s lifestyle. Some people who are used to driving their personal cars to work have since devised other means of cutting down thecost of transportation. Mr. Biodun Awosanya who works on Lagos Island, but lives in Ikotun area of Lagos told Saturday Sun that he had stopped taking his car to work in the past one month. “I use public transport. I discovered that it is cheaper for me to go on public transport than to go with my car because sometimes, I run into traffic and I burn more petrol”.
For Mr. Jude Nwuzor, a businessman at Alaba International market, Ojo, Lagos, he drives his car only two or three times in a week to save cost. “How much do I make in a day that I will have to spend so much on petrol. Since the prices of items went up, we hardly get enough customers to buy items. I sell electronics. People are hungry and there is no money in the country. So, they are only trying to see how they can feed their families. They are not interested in buying electronics now.
Another alternative is to walk. Where the distance is not too long, some would decide to trek, while others now use BRT buses because it is cheaper”, he said.
A passenger at a BRT bus/stop at Ojota, who identified himself as Jide told Saturday Sun:“Before now, I don’t use BRT bus because I am always in a hurry to go where I am going to. But now, I have no option than to queue and wait for the bus because I discovered that it is cheaper for me”.
For Mrs. Iyabo Awoniyi, if she does not have anything very serious to do, she stays back at home to save cost of going on the road.