Special Report: Nigerians readjust lifestyles, share survival strategies as economic hardship bites harder under Tinubu

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By Toyibat Ajose, Alagbe Elisha, Adelani Khadijat, Esther Adekanla 

 

Friday, March 29 coincided with a quite a number of significant events in Nigeria. First, it was President Bola Tinubu’s 72nd birthday, second it was Good Friday and third, it marked exactly 10 months since Tinubu assumed the number one public office in Nigeria.

Right from the podium of the Eagles Square where he delivered his inaugural address on May 29 as 16th Nigerian president, Tinubu reeled out strong policies that indicated a new Sheriff was in town.

The now popular phrase ‘subsidy is gone’ and unification of the various foreign exchange rates in the country were some of Tinubu’s day one bold decisions that almost plunged the country into unforeseen crisis.

The fuel subsidy removal pushed transport costs to over 300 percent, as prices of petrol averaged N660 per litre (save for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited selling for N568/L in selected stations nationwide), as against N185 before May 29, 2023. Consequently, the nation’s inflation rate has continued to hit the roof in a manner never so witnessed. The inflation rate rose to 31.70 percent in February from 29.90 percent in January of 2024.

While some of the President’s economic policies have garnered global attention and commendation, however, some economic experts opined that he (Tinubu) was hasty in his decisions without making cushioning plans for the aftermath as Nigerians are unfortunately at the brutal receiving ends.

 

Nigerians forced to readjust lifestyles to current economic realities 

Since May 29, Nigerians have had to forcefully reconsider their choices and lifestyles. While many ditched their vehicles, local flights for public transportation; others cut down extremely on certain foods, groceries, skin care products and other daily product use or simply go for cheaper alternatives.

Recent visits by NewsClick Nigeria team to selected food markets and super stores within Lagos showed astronomical increase in prices of foods and basic commodities. It is worthy of note to state at this juncture that some prices fluctuate almost on an hourly basis. One is not certain to buy an item for same price in the evening as maybe sold earlier in the morning.

Find below price comparison of some food items and basic commodities.

GOODS                                                                 BEFORE                                                   NOW

50kg of Rice (A Bag of Rice):                                 N30,000                                                       ₦62,000 to ₦80,000

25kg of Rice:                                                             N15,000                                                    ₦32,000 to ₦40,000.

Crate of egg:                                                              N1,500                                                         N4,000

1 Derica  (Oloyin) Beans:                                        N250                                                       ₦800 –₦1,000

Tomato (1kg):                                                           ₦500                                                          ₦1000 and above

Sweet Potato(1kg): before 300                            now  ₦1000

Onion (1kg): before 400                                      now ₦1000

Lettuce (1 head): before 100                                now ₦200-₦400

Yam (A tuber of yam): before 700                       now₦1,000 ₦2000

Melon Seed (Egusi): before 700                           now₦1200- ₦1500

Ogbono Seed: before 700                            now₦1000

Okro: ₦50-₦1000

Coco Yam:  ₦1000

Spaghetti: before 300                            now ₦800- ₦1200 (All Brands)

1 Carton of Indomie Chicken ( 40pcs):before 5,000                            now ₦7800- 14,000 (Depending on size)

Golden Penny Semovita, 10kg:before 7,500                            now ₦11,500- ₦12,500

Honeywell Semolina 10kg: before 7,000                            now  ₦12,500

Golden Penny Semolina: before 7, 000                          now₦12,500

Honeywell Semolina: before 7, 000                          now₦12,500

Palm Oil (5 ltrs): before 3,500                          now ₦5800 – ₦7,500

Vegetable Oil Local (5 ltrs): before ₦4,500     now 9000

Cassava Flour (Garri) 1 paint: before₦800                  now  ₦2,500

Canned Fish (Sardines & Titus Brands): before ₦250         now ₦1,000

1kg of Turkey before N3500            now N5,500 – N7,500

1kg of Chicken before N2500         now N5,000 – N7,000

1kg of Titus fish before N2500       now  N5,000

A cartoon of Panla fish, before N18,000 now N38,000

MOLFIX DIAPERS JUMBO                            N8000                                               N14500

MILO REFILL 400g                                         N1200                                               N3400

PEAK MILK REFILL 400g                               N1500                                               N3800

DANO 123 milk (for toddlers)                    N1800                                                      N3900

A LOAF OF BREAD                                            N750                                                 N1300

SARDINES(per one)                                      N550                                                 N1100

INDOMINE ONION CHICKEN                      N5100                                               N10200

GOLDEN PENNY SPAGHETTI                      N700                                                 N1100

GINO TOMATO PASTE                                 N150                                                N250

CHIVITA JUICES 150ml (for children)        N1800                                              N2500

FROZEN HOTDOG                                            N1200                                                   N1850

A PACK OF BOTTLED WATER                      N700                                                       N1300

 

NB: Prices highlighted above was obtained as at the second – third week of March, the prices might have been slighted adjusted.

 

Nigerians share survival strategies 

Unfazed by the economic challenges, Nigerians are making adjustments where necessary and forging ahead with utmost believe that the Tinubu administration will make true its promises that their (Nigerians’) sacrifices in this challenging times will not go unrewarded.

NewsClick Nigeria team spoke with some Lagos residents in markets, super stores, religious gatherings, at work and other places about the recent hardship and their coping mechanism.

Hear there responses below:

A staff of Lagos State University of Education (LASUED), popularly called Iya Ibeji highlighted some of her coping mechanism: “I now eat more of Egusi (melon).  A derica of Egusi is about N1200. I get more quantity compared to buying pepper of same price. Another strategy I adopt is shuffling between Gas and Charcoal. I use gas in the morning and charcoal in the evening. Another thing is dried Ponmo, I don’t eat it before but now I stock my house with dried ponmo and panla fish.”

NewsClick Nigeria reporter observed that a resident at one of the markets in Ikorodu telling a vegetable seller to slice her vegetables big. When asked why, she said the vegetables will serve dual functions in the soup; meat and vegetables. “This is the situation we find ourselves for now and we have to survive. We can’t afford fish and meat for now, so we creatively prepare our soup in such a way that the vegetables will serve as both vegetable and meat or fish. When things improve, we’ll go back to our beloved frozen foods,” she said wearing a smile.

Another Lagos resident who identified himself as Godonu in said his survival strategy said he now uses charcoal, eats panla fish and more of the birds he rears.

A resident who resides at Ketu, Mrs Kareem said she no longer cooks beans with her gas and now follows her boss to and fro work to cut down on transportation expenses.

“I no longer cook beans at all and I follow my boss to and fro work to save cost on transportation”.

For Mrs Onikoyi, her survival strategy regarding food is dropping so many foods and replacing them with others. She stopped eating semovita. “I’d rather buy four paint bucket of white amala for 10,000 than buying a bag of semo for 12,000. The white amala will last me more. I also substitute fresh tomatoes and peppers with dried ones.”

For Mrs Olalekan, the economic hardship brought out some skills in her. “ I usually don’t eat ‘ewedu alasepo’ before but now, I eat more of ewedu alasepo and ila alasepo.  I also stopped getting foods in bulk because I cannot afford it. Normally in my family, we do eat potato chips and sausages, stir fried veggies, fried rice and more. I have dropped everything and now and eat whatever I can afford in the market.”

Mr Abiodun told NewsClick Nigeria team that his family now cook only portions they are able to finish at a time: “This hardship made me dropped a lot of food and now eat what I don’t normally. Before, I don’t eat concoction rice but now I do. It also made me and my family manage our food more, no excess cooking and eating. We cook what we can finish at a go.”

Mrs Hassan said her family has now abandoned meat, fish and other frozen foods for other less expensive options. “I don’t buy fish or meat again. I buy wara, Beske etc and use it as my meat in food.”

Mrs Afariogun, a first-time mother told NewsClick Nigeria she now minimizes the amount of diapers her baby uses per day. she said before now her baby uses 3-4 diapers daily but now she only uses 2 per day (one for the morning and another for the night). She also said she switched from using Molfix to using Soft Care diapers as it is cheaper.

A single lady, Miss Lydia who lamented the high price basic commodities said she normally buy bread in the supermarket but now she has gone back to patronizing the popular Agege bread.

Mr Olaniyi said the rising price of goods has made him shift loyalty from bottled water to sachet (pure) water. He said he also sometimes boil and refrigerate his water at home to save money.

Another Lagos resident and nursing mother told NewsClick Nigeria that baby now uses Shea butter (Ori) as replacement for the popular Funbact A.

 

Slay queens no longer slaying

Findings by NewsClick Nigeria reveals that the current economic hardship is not just affecting basic commodities; fashionistas are also bearing the brunch.

Most fashionistas who spoke to NewsClick Nigeria said they have either abandoned their beauty routines entirely or have now discovered cheaper alternatives.

“Before now, I can’t do without my daily makeup routine. But now that a new king is in town and economic reality has dawned, I use my foundation once a week. If not I’ll just be emptying my little savings on makeups,” a Fagba resident, Mrs Bolanle Lasisi told NewsClick Nigeria.

Mr Sunday on his part stopped using Carowhite for coconut oil (Adi Agbon).

Mrs Ganiu Funmilayo she said she migrated from light up to Dodo skin gold after light up skyrocketed from N1500 to N4000. According to her, Dodo Skin Gold sells for N1500.

Another skin care enthusiast said she abandoned her skin care soap (White secret) for local one which costs just N100. She said she’ll rather use the excess cash on food.

“I use Irish Gold initially but the price changed from N2000 to N7000 to N10,000 depending on the shop you go to. Now I use a cream of N3000. It’s not by force to stick to a particular product that my purchasing power can’t afford for now,” Mrs Happiness Lasisi said.

A young female school leaver told NewsClick Nigeria”I love doing Braids and Ghana weaving normally but now I buy wigs that will last longer.”

“I’m still loyal to my cream though but now I use it once daily instead of the usual day and night usage. That way I can make it last longer. I’ve also permanently adjusted my hairstyle to plating instead of my regular crochet,” Mrs Oseikhena explained.

On her part, Miss Opeyemi said the current economic realities as made her abandoned any form of skin care and treatment. “I use cleanser, toner, syrum, moisturiser and sun screen when it sold for N5000 each. Now these products sell for as much as N10,000 to 20,000 per one. The one I use in treating  acne now sells for N35,000 from initial price of N15,000.”

 

Business owners lament low patronage

Meanwhile, business owners are not left out of the biting effects of the prevailing economic challenges. For many, sales have either extremely dropped or not even moving at all and are contemplating closing shop.

Mrs Okanlawon Adejoke runs a hair dressing saloon at Ifako Ijaiye in Lagos. According to her, business has been bad of recent and she recently took another job to augment for the loss.

“My customers before now do more of attachment fixing. But what they have been doing for some months ago is weaving with their natural hair and they will still carry it for weeks. Business got so bad that I had to get a paying job to augment for the loss. And I perfectly understand because the situation affects me too. I use light up cream but I’ve been shuffling two days off, one day on so it will be sufficient for me and last longer. I also now do short braids instead of long,” Adejoke said.

A property owner at Ikotun-Egbe, Mr Ayeni also shared some survival strategy with NewsClick Nigeria. According to him both landlords and tenants must cooperate and show understanding with each other to survive the trying times.

”As a survival strategy I have been having periodic counselling with my tenants over a cautious and effective usage to reduce expenditures on damages.” He emphasized that he had to take such move due to the high cost of things in the country. He also said, ”With reference to the high cost of living we are experiencing now I have also engaged my tenants to always plan ahead for their rent not forgetting to always remember them in prayer.”

He revealed that, ”I also observe that tenant will want to try their possible best to avoid quit notice because cost of rent now has gone up astronomically. A sitting tenant can still negotiate an upward review of rent by his/her landlord.”

When also asked if he had increased his house rent, he said: ”I didn’t increase the rent. The reason been that that they are new tenant, they are yet to spend a year. I might consider an increase by next year. Many landlords have increased their rent harping on the economic reality of the country. Any repairs/maintenance of facilities in houses means that one will be spending much more than before. Prices of cement, electrical, plumbing materials have really skyrocketed.”

An elderly woman who is a tenant said, ”my house rent used to be 3000, but its now 5000.” She also shared how her neighbours lamented upon hearing the increase of the house rent, saying she had choice but to pay.

A fashion designer, Mr. David shared his own experience on the current hardship, ”things are costly now, I already increased my service charge but only added what won’t adversely affected my customers pocket.”

Another beauty care vendor, Mrs Roseline while reeling out the high prices of deodorants and skin care products said customers are no longer buying as before. According to her, Green tea makeup that initially sells for N1200 is now N2500, Body Spray from N2000 now N3000, Correct powder contour from N1600 to N3500.

She noted that even she as the seller cannot afford the products. “I now use Blue Sea and Palm Kernel oil as alternative to my cream so it won’t finish on time because it is quite expensive, N50,000. Anyday I’m going to the market and will take time, I use my ‘adin’ and blue sea.

Another cream and attachment vendor, Mrs Ruth while sharing the the impact of the current economic challenges on her business and customer behaviour said “People now rewash and reuse attachment instead of using it once. They budget determines the products they buy. Some people even shave off their hair entirely to avoid spending money unnecessarily on care products.”

Lamenting the recent low patronage from customers, Mrs Ruth said: You can imagine opening shop from morning till evening without sales. In some cases, just a single customer all day. Sales are really bad. People no longer buy. I don’t even buy expensive creams again because people no longer buy. Their purchasing power is seriously deteriorating.”

The principal of Mustard Seed School, Mrs Nwachukwu also gave more insight to how the economic hardship is affecting the education sector. She said, “It has not been easy, it has been having a serious toll on the parents because we discovered before now that payment of school fees doesn’t take this long, some parents would have payed 80-90% of their children school fee before resumption but these days due to the hardship, parents are finding it hard. Some had to come to appeal that we give them more time. Parents with 3-4 children feel the impact the most, and as a responsible institution, we have been exercising patient with them.”

She revealed that the hardship is affecting most parents who are into businesses insisting they wouldn’t be able to pay their children’s school fees with a struggling business.

“School is meant for both the rich and medium class and there’s been an increase of students because some of the students that came in for the new session attended high paying school and when the parents saw that they have a school they could afford, they came and it’s also an advantage to us.”