Feature

AFTERMATH OF FUEL PRICE HIKE: Nigerians groan as prices of foodstuff, goods, services skyrocket

• No new clothes for any of my children this year, says a customer
• We now trek longer distances –Commuters

As Nigerians continue to adjust to the “new normal” occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID- 19) pandemic, prices of food items, goods and services are hitting the rooftop across the country. These prices, especially of major foodstuffs, recorded significant increases across Nigeria as markets reacted to the recent fuel increase by the Federal government.

The hike has dealt a devastating blow on hapless Nigerians as families are particularly groaning under the high prices, which have increased by at least 20 per cent since last week when the fuel increase was announced. Market survey conducted by Saturday Telegraph in some markets in Lagos revealed that the prices of some foodstuffs are now twice higher than what they used to be. Although the prices of the food items in some of the markets differ, the difference is just minimal.

For instance, the price of rice, beans, cassava flakes, palm oil, groundnut oil, and pepper in Mile 12 Market is different from the prices in Ogba, Oyingbo, and Berger. Prices of potatoes, yam, groundnut, and others jumped as well as traders lament hike, and seasonal scarcity of some of these items. According to this paper’s survey, a 50k bag of foreign rice is presently sold at the rate of N37,000 while the same bag of rice was sold for N36,000 a few weeks ago Also, a bag of beans is now N41,000 but sold at N38,500 two weeks ago.

It was also learnt that a bag of cassava flakes is sold at the rate of N10,500, a basket of tomatoes cost N8,500, a bag of tatashe pepper is sold at N5,500, and a bag of rodo pepper at N6,500. Also, 25 litres of groundnut oil sells for N16,200, while palm oil of the same litre goes for N15,500. In Ogba and Berger markets, a bag of rice is sold for N36,000 while a bag of beans goes for N39,500. In the same vein, a bag of cassava flakes goes for N11,000, 25 litres of groundnut oil is sold for N15,800, while palm oil is sold for N16,600.

However, the various brands of noodles maintained their prices. The 305g carton of Indomie still sells for an average of N3,650, 210g of Indomie (N3,500), and 100g of Chikki (N2,400). The price of a 50kg bag of Yellow Garri also remains unchanged at an average of N14,500. A trader at Mile 12 Market, who identified herself simply as Madam Bose, lamented that the level of patronage in the market has reduced due to the high prices of foodstuff.

She added that this has inflicted more hardship on them. Another trader, Mrs. Fola Adeyemo, said that the majority of traders are facing financial crisis because most of them borrowed money from micro-finance banks to run their businesses.

“We are not getting returns on our investment because of low patronage. We can’t eat if buyers don’t buy. We are in trouble in this country,” she said. At Ogba Market, Mrs. Jennifer Ukachukwu, who sells plantain, said only a few people now come around to buy from her.

“Although I’m not alone in this, as many of us now sleep most of the time. There is no money in town and such people are not buying things like before. “I don’t know where we are headed in this country.

This is not the change this government promised while campaigning,” she lamented. Similarly, a customer at Berger Market, Mrs. Elizabeth Nduka, argued that the money she spends in buying foodstuffs has doubled compared to a few weeks ago.

She said that she used to buy a bag of rice for her family but since the price has skyrocketed, she can only now buy a paint bucket of rice. It was also discovered that there are two varieties of pepper at Oyingbo Market, a small and a big one. A big bag of the big pepper sells for an average of N17,000 while that of the small pepper sells for an average of N10,000, while, a medium-sized bag of the small pepper sells for an average of N9,200.

A middle-aged man, identified only as Adamu, sells pepper at the market. He explained that the reason for the difference in the price between the two varieties is that the small pepper is more peppery compared to the bigger one. Adamu added that most people from the Western part of the country prefer to buy the small ones, as they like to prepare spicy meals.

A resident in the Ojota area of Lagos told Saturday Telegraph that, since the fuel hike, feeding her family members has been a major challenge, saying, “What is most important to the family now is how to feed before thinking of pleasure.”

Apart from food items, transport fares have slightly gone up in many routes as well. For instance, a bus fare from Ketu to Ojota, a journey of less than three minutes’ drive, now costs N100 as against N50 it attracted before the fuel increase.

From Ojota to Ogba is now N200 as against the previous N100 charged for the same distance a few weeks ago. Also, from Magboro in Ogun State to Berger in Lagos State now attracts a fare of N200 as against N150 previously charged. While from Oshodi in Lagos State to Sagamu in Ogun State is now N1000. It was before now N700.

Abuja

Nigerians resident in the FCT have also continued to groan over the hike in foodstuffs, rent and transportation. Mrs. Kehinde Abayomi, who was at Wuse Market with an intention to carry out an early Christmas shopping for her children and wards, told our correspondent she was confused as two hours in the market already seemed like she embarked on a futile exercise.

She said: “I can’t buy clothes or shoes for any of my children. The prices are too high. If the price of just one gown is going for N18,000 at this time, that means no new clothes for any of my children this year.” Commenting on the price of foodstuffs and transportation, she noted that life had become more difficult for average Nigerians, especially the vulnerable with poor or no source of livelihood.

“People are suffering too much, what crime have we committed to be called Nigerians? Who did we offend? “We can’t eat, people can’t move. If you go to the market with N5,000, what you will buy can’t fill a small nylon bag.

“It’s as if we are paying for a crime but what crime I don’t know. In the estate where I live, the number of women and children who come around to beg has increased. “They are either asking you for used clothes or simply food to eat.

It’s just a pathetic situation we find ourselves in, especially those who are being paid meagre salaries or those who do not even have a job at all.” Mr. John Idu, who lamented the cost of transportation, accused the government of having a sinister agenda with a plan to cash in on the citizens. “I’m still trying to figure out why the government will suddenly decide to make life unbearable for us.

“It is clear they have an evil agenda to kill us all or push us into a situation where they will continue to collect grants from foreign organisations, which, of course we all know go straight into their private accounts.

“The prices of transportation have increased by 100 per cent and if you won’t board you alight. But, we can’t blame the transporters; they have to recoup the money spent in buying fuel, besides that, how about their time, energy and stress put into their work? “Just as I have a family to feed, they also have families to feed,” he added. A driver, who said some passengers sometimes try to play smart not to pay the increased fare, appealed to Nigerians to be more understanding.

He said: “It’s not our fault; we had to jack up the price due to the increase in fuel. You help me, I help you, if not tomorrow my children won’t have food to eat. “Some of them will say please help me, it’s not a matter of please help me. I buy a litre of fuel for between N168 and N170; the people at filling stations will not hear please.” On her part, Joy Unekwu noted that “This is the worst government we have ever had.

The prices of foodstuffs, utility bills and other goods and services keep skyrocketing just like that. “If foodstuffs can be this expensive, what will happen by Christmas and early next year when the prices of foodstuffs, especially, naturally go up? “Nigerians are tired and disappointed in this administration. We have been scammed big time. “If I have an opportunity, I’m out of here and I also advise my friends and family members to do the same.”

Ekiti

In Ekiti, a commercial driver, Mr. Akeem Bolarinwa, said the hike in fuel price has affected all Nigerians, especially the masses. He decried the rate at which some passengers in Ekiti State are taking up endurance trekking to their destinations due inability to afford the cost of transportation. “Fuel price hike is a sad development. For instance, it has led to an increase in cost of transportation, which people cannot afford.

“Some places where we charged N100 now go for N200. I have seen some commuters, who decided to trek when they couldn’t afford the cost, the government needs to make serious and adequate consideration about this situation.”

A commuter, Mr. Sola Adebayo, who also lamented rate of increase in the cost of both transportation and goods, especially consumables as a result of the fuel price increase said: “For instance Okada rider or commercial vehicle operator used to charge N50 from Adebayo area in Ado Ekiti to Adehun, the same area and a stone throw, it now costs N70.

“That’s why some passengers have now embarked on trekking to their destinations unlike before, unless the place is too far. It’s a devastating moment” A petrol attendant at BOVAS Petrol in Ado Ekiti, who also spoke with Saturday Telegraph, and pleaded anonymity said the filling station has not implemented the new price.

He said: “We are still selling at the old price of N158, because we haven’t got new stock; when we buy new product we shall receive directives from our management” A trader, Mr. Onyekachi Micheal, described the petrol increase as unfortunate and annoying.

“This is unpalatable and insensitive, for God’s sake; why will a government that’s not insensitive increase fuel price twice within a month? “This is the same year that has brought untold hardship to the citizens of the country;the citizens deserve better from the government it elected to power.

“The second schedule of the constitution is very clear. Part of the purpose of government is welfare of the people which this government has abandoned. “The prices of all the commodities in the market have gone up because of the fuel increase and as a trader you have to contend with the high cost of transportation.” A market leader, Chief Johnson Osayintolu, said hike in petrol price has escalated the already increased price of commodities.

“Nigerians before were complaining about high prices of goods in the market, especially consumables due to border closure, but now that the price of petrol has increased, it’s like adding salt to their injuries. “A pan of rice here in Ado Ekiti still goes for N1,100, while the prices of pepper, tomatoes and oil have gone higher than before. “This is mainly as a result of high cost of transportation; it’s a bad development for the whole nation”

Delta

The Niger Delta Youth Council (NDYC) has vowed to shut down the oil production economy of Nigeria in the region if the Federal Government fails to reverse the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to the old price.

Mr. Ebi Tamuno said since Nigeria Labour could not muster courage to stop the hike and there was no justifiable reason to worsen the plight of Nigerians through uncontrollable hike, drastic action would be taken soon.

He lamented the insensitivity of Nigerian leaders despite the unfavourable realities of COVID-19 and #EndSARS brouhaha. He demanded immediate reversal of petrol pump price to N120 within 14 days. He said: “Let it be noted that the safety of oil workers cannot be guaranteed if the government fails to revert the pump price to N120.

“We will not hesitate to declare a national day of action for nationwide protest.” Also, one of the women leaders at the popular Ogbepgonogo Market in Asaba, who identified herself simply as Mama G, urged #EndSARS campaigners to #EndFUEL/ ELECTRICITYHIKE protest. She said the current high cost of living was occasioned by high cost of production, transportation and indecisiveness of government over farmers-herders clashes. “Have you been to the market recently? Check the prices of foodstuffs. Compare it with the old prices. “A sizable ball of onion is now N100 as against N20 before fuel hike to N165. A cut of stony local rice is N120 while local-foreign, as they call it, which was sold for N80, is now N140. “We need #EndSARS boys at this critical moment to save us from our unfriendly friends in political toga,” she said. An executive of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state, Comrade Ngozi, said the foundation for cheap transport fare has been destroyed by the Federal Government and the Union cannot help it. He added: “What we buy is what we sell. We can’t buy fuel at N165 and carry passengers for kobo-kobo. “As charged by the marketers, they in turn put it on their goods and services; the result is the inflation that we call high cost of living.”

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