Nigerians lament exorbitant cost of living as inflation hits record highs

The cost of living crisis in Nigeria is causing misery for citizens with skyrocketing inflation amid failed efforts by monetary and fiscal authorities to stabilize the exchange value of the national currency and review workers’ salaries.

Rising prices have left many essential items, including food and shelter, out of reach for millions of citizens across the country, as highlighted by a PREMIUM TIMES market study in Minna, Niger State.

Record inflation

In April, Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.69 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), marking the 11th consecutive increase under President Bola Tinubu. The 0.49 percent increase from March is the highest since 1999 and the fourth highest since the first quarter of 1996.

Year-on-year, the rate increased by 11.47 percent compared to April 2023, while month-on-month, April 2024 recorded an increase of 2.29 percent, slightly lower than March’s 3.02 percent.

The increase was driven by rising prices for food, non-alcoholic beverages, housing, utilities, clothing and transportation.

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Food inflation in March reached 40.53 percent; Kogi, Kwara and Ondo experienced the highest rates, and Nasarawa, Adamawa and Bauchi experienced slower increases.

Urban inflation reached 36.00 percent, while rural inflation stood at 31.64 percent in April.

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Food prices in Minna

A market survey conducted by PREMIUM TIMES in Minna, Niger State, indicated a continuous almost daily increase in food prices.

A “mudu” (bowl measure) of rice, which cost N1,200 last month, was selling for N1,900 when our reporter visited the central market in the state capital on Monday. Similarly, the same quantity of beans was sold for N1,700, with traders noting the price was N800 last month.

Millet has also seen a substantial price increase from N350 to N900-950 per mudu and N48,000 per bag during the month.

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Prices of palm oil, groundnut oil, garri, maize and sugar have seen significant increases during the period, underlining the economic challenges faced by Minna residents.

Residents denounce rising prices

Halima Abubakar, a teacher at Minna, said her salary no longer covers her basic needs.

“The salary of a teacher is so small that it does not cover the needs,” he lamented. She said she has been the most affected by rising food prices.

“Sometimes food prices change twice a day,” he lamented.

Leonard Ogwezi, a building materials trader in the city, said rising prices had prevented him from replenishing his stock.

“Inconsistency in prices causes business losses,” he said. “Normally I buy three bags of nails, but now it’s two.”

A state official, Abubakar Kuta, said their standard of living has fallen. “We bought 10 measures of rice for N7,000 or less, but now the same quantity costs up to N23,000.”

Kuta said he used to visit his hometown every weekend, but has now reduced his visits to twice a month “due to high transportation costs.”

Nigerian workers in struggle

Nigerian workers are angry because wages have remained static despite the hyperinflationary trend, and the government and workers have not yet agreed on a new national minimum wage.

Evans Emmanuel, a Facebook user, expressed his exasperation at the situation, saying: “Yesterday I read that inflation in Nigeria is at a whopping 33.69%, and the federal government is offering 48,000 naira per month minimum wage to its workers. .

“I thought the first people you should worry about should be your own workers. Other private sector institutions had at that time revised their staff remuneration upwards, except the government itself which caused the difficulties through that unforeseen policy.”

Other Nigerians are also complaining. “As a student, the price changes have affected me greatly,” lamented Eniola Brown, a student at the University of Ilorin in Kwara State. “What used to cost N150 now demands N300, which doubles my daily expenses, including transportation and other things.”

Miss Brown, who is also a businesswoman, said inflation has affected her sales. “Low sales are affecting my business,” she said in a Facebook post. “Customers are demanding refunds due to sudden price increases caused by currency fluctuations.”

She said the economic crisis has forced her to reevaluate her lifestyle. “Luxuries are a thing of the past, I am cautious with spending, prioritizing the essentials over whims.”

Food crisis threatens millions of people across Africa

Recent findings of Harmonized Table (CH) Reporta collaborative effort that involves International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other international organizations, describe a grim scenario for millions of people in West and Central Africa.

Noting that 52 million people face the risk of food insecurity during the upcoming lean season from June to August, the report calls for urgent measures to avoid catastrophic consequences.

A particular concern cited in the report on Nigeria is where he said that 31.8 million people, constituting 16 percent of the population analyzed, are at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

The situation is further aggravated in the northern states of Sokoto and Zamfara, where more than 15 percent of children suffer from acute malnutrition.

This looming crisis arises from a confluence of factors including insecurity, climate change and deteriorating macroeconomic conditions.

Inflation rates, which soared to 21 percent across the region in January 2024, have also compounded challenges, pushing essential goods out of reach for many.

Expert calls for economic diversification

Samuel Nzekwe, former president of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), said Nigeria needs to “diversify the economy and cultivate an enabling environment for the growth of crucial sectors.”

Nzekwe, who spoke at a meeting of accountants in Ota, Ogun State, earlier this year, said it is a practical means to combat the inflationary trend.

“Reducing our dependence on oil and expanding the scope of our economy would allow the productive sector to prosper, thereby curbing inflation and easing pressure on our currency.”

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“With sufficient security measures, food production could increase, which could generate exports and generate foreign exchange, which would significantly reduce the country’s inflation rate.

“To curb the upward trajectory of inflation and stabilize the naira, the nation must focus on cultivating other areas where it has a competitive advantage.”

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