The Christmas season is supposed to be a period to make merry, buy and give gifts, travel and visit lovely places, friends and family.
However, doing any of these this festive season may be very difficult for Nigerians, as they are lamenting their inability to afford the constantly increasing prices of food and services which might make their celebration a bleak one.
The rising cost of goods and services is not unconnected to the high exchange rate caused by the bad economy. Also, the recent flooding had washed away many farmlands and farm produce in many parts of the country, making it almost impossible for many to harvest their crops.
The flood also destroyed many roads which has hindered the transportation of fruits and food items. Most of these items eventually get spoilt. Hence, to recover what they’ve lost due to the flood, they hike the price of their food items.
The recent rise in cost of fuel and the persistent fuel scarcity has also led to the hike in the intra-state and inter-state transport fares which has also contributed to the high cost in the prices of foods.
According to findings, the price of a bag of rice, frozen foods, palm oil and vegetable oil, clothes, amongst many others, recorded between 100 and 200 percent increase. The cheapest local rice in the open market in Lagos is being sold at N40,000 per 50kg bag while Foreign rice was sold for N50,000 per 50kg bag. Also, a large size chicken that’s usually consumed with chicken, now sells for N12,000.
Hakim Korede, a businessman lamented the escalating prices of goods and services saying, “That is the criminal traits that is common now in Nigeria, Petro & Gas pump adjusted, frozen food scale, Paint of foodstuffs, Clothes measurements is now 34cm instead of 36cm, SKU, Quality Assurance (FCMG) adjusted for profits, price still high. Is the govt doing us?”
Monday John, a livestock farmer said that chicken is being sold within the range of N7500 to N13,000 depending on the sizes. He said that it was not so last year as the chicken was sold around N6,500 and N8000 depending on the size. He said that feed is the main challenge as the price of the product has gone up.
A seller at Katangowa Market said, “Look around; people are just buying ponmo, fish and biscuit bones, which of course many couldn’t even afford, instead of live chicken. Many couldn’t even buy ‘second hand’ clothes. That’s the reality of today’s Nigeria. We are suffering and the government needs to act now or… Only those, who steal our money, could afford lavish Christmas celebrations this year.”
One of the Maitama Market women said, “How much is coming to the salary earners? With what many are collecting now, can they buy anything with it at this Christmas? You see, this Christmas is very harsh. No matter how much you take to the market, you still cannot buy anything because of high prices. And despite the high rate of inflation in the economy, workers’ salaries are still the same.
“1 dollars is N1,000 now. Insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, killing is a daily affair. Price of food is 8x what it was in 2015. Fuel price is N300. Corruption is now the worse in history of Nigeria. Power supply/electricity is almost nonexistent,” Cheryl King said.
Mrs Adesanya who sells bags of rice in Wuse said “This is the worst Christmas I have ever seen in my life, because things are very expensive right now. Over the years, I have never sold rice as high as this year.
“Last year I sold a 50kg bag of local parboiled rice for an average of N20,000 while I sold foreign rice for N25,000. But this year 50kg bag of local parboiled rice sells for an average of N40,000 while foreign rice sells for N48,000.”
Mrs. Momodu, a Pstor’s wife said, “Every Christmas, we usually buy bags of rice, vegetable oil and many other things to share with family, church members and friends. That is actually not possible this year because of the prices that are way too high.
“Incomes did not grow, inflation was high and as such; what we could afford last year or two years ago are not affordable this year.”
Omosola Saheed, while shopping at Mile 12 Market, said, “Foodstuffs are very expensive in the market and purchasing power is very low. There is no money.”
“You go abroad and see sale everywhere including supermarket during Christmas. The poor can at least afford to eat decent food. But in Nigeria? They increase the price of food that the poor can’t afford anything. Why are sellers increasing their prices during Christmas, Why?” Sally Suleiman.
A yam seller, Joy Nwaalia, said 2022 has been her worst Christmas. Nwaalia lamented her inability to travel to the village this year, for the yuletide with her family.
Nwaalia said: “The high cost of living is particularly affecting those of us with large families and dependents. For instance, how do we care for the expenses for a family of six, including buying Christmas clothes and travelling to the village with the high rocketing transport fare?
“This is the reason we have to take the decision of staying back in Lagos, but it was not an easy decision to make. Since you have been with me in this market, how many people have you seen come to price yam here? Take a good look at the entire market and tell me if this is the Mile 12 that people used to talk about.
“Things are really hard and there is no money in town. Many of those bringing food items to this market from the Northern part of the country have either been kidnapped or killed. Those still alive are afraid and are being cautious and this has affected everything we sell in this market. Ordinarily, this market ought to be bubbling by now with shoppers and sellers smiling,” she said.
Samuel David said, “In Nigeria you go poorer everyday so this should come as a shock… min wage 33k bag of rice 39k chicken 15k so what do we expect??
Madam Comfort, who sells rice and beans said that the low sales turnout had discouraged business owners. She said, “Let me be sincere with you, people are not really coming out to buy foodstuffs like they did in previous years. And I won’t blame them, it’s just that there is no money out there, so what will they use to buy? The few that come out to buy food items are buying little. We are only getting customers now because people must eat.”
A consumer, Olufunmi Fanwa said “Prices of everything have increased in the market. I can’t buy everything I planned to buy. In fact, I will be spending twice what I spent last year’s Christmas during this year to get less.”
A frozen foods seller, Madam Bridget said customers can’t afford the frozen chickens and turkey due to the high prices. She said, “Na person wey get money dey buy plenty of things for Christmas. Many are struggling and you know we are really worried and scared of what might possibly happen in January. What if things get more expensive?”
“There’s no money in circulation. So, people can’t really spend like they used to. A pack of turkey that I bought for N13,000 just two days ago now costs N19,500. Imagine the cost now, within how many days, and this will likely affect the sales,” she stated further.
A trader, Agbo, in Kubwa said “Things are not working well in Nigeria; since I am matured to know something about government; this present government is the worst ever.
“I am a fabricator, I use diesel to power my generator regularly because of bad power supply. Formerly we got a litre of diesel for N200, and we were even complaining then. But now we buy a litre for N1000, just imagine the difference.
“The frustration that the government is giving the people cannot make anyone succeed. My brother, there is trouble in this country; masses are dying of starvation not to talk of celebrating Christmas.”
Raphat Gbadamosi, a food dealer said, “The one that baffles me most is those who usually buy like two bags, one bag of rice, this year a lot of them go as low as 10kg. They cannot even afford to buy 25kg, which is half a bag. There is no rush at all this year, people are just taking it in piecemeal, and some are usually buying cartons of vegetable oil. They resulted in buying six.
“Unlike before, things are really tight, last year we sold a bag of rice for N25,000 to N27,000 but this year a bag of rice has gone up to around N45,000 and N46,000. But as of now, we are selling N40, 000 depending on what we buy.
“I sell only Nigerian rice; I don’t sell foreign rice even the vegetable oil, which is Golden Terra. It is produced in Sagamu here. I have been a promoter of made-in-Nigeria products because that is the only way we can grow our economy. But this year’s experience has been different, there is no money, people are groaning, some will even tell you school fees are around the corner.”
Nigerians are already worried about how worse it will be this time in 2023, expect there is a total and positive change in policies and economy. With the 2023 election billed for February that will usher in a new government, one can only hope that the new administration will take the bull by the horn and address all the challenges bedeviling the country, in order to put an end to the suffering of the people.