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Tough time for families as inflation soars to 7yr high

Poor families in all parts of the country are facing hard times with the astronomical rise in food prices and other commodities over the last…

Poor families in all parts of the country are facing hard times with the astronomical rise in food prices and other commodities over the last two months. 

Many of them said they are finding it difficult to feed even as their income continues to dwindle. 

Nigeria’s monthly inflation rate soared to a seven-year high in June, after President Bola Tinubu scrapped fuel subsidies and allowed the currency to weaken before declaring a state of emergency to control staple food costs. 

Prices rose 2.1% in the month, the most since May 2016, and annual inflation quickened to 22.8% from 22.4% in May, according to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. 

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Families and experts who spoke with Daily Trust said the figure does not reflect the reality on ground, as they have  to cope with rising transport fares,runaway food prices, among others.

A UN report in January projected that 25 million Nigerians were at the high risk of food insecurity this year, meaning they would not be able to afford enough nutritious food every day. 

Concerns about food insecurity have been longstanding in Nigeria – Africa’s most-populous country, which has also been battling widespread insecurity for several years. 

Recall that President Bola Tinubu declared a state of emergency that will allow the government to take exceptional steps to improve food security and supply, as surging prices cause widespread hardship. 

The move is expected to trigger a range of measures, including clearing forests for farmland to increase agricultural output and ease food inflation. 

While the modality for implementation of the emergency is being awaited, our reporter in Kano said residents are lamenting over the daily increase in the cost of transportation and food stuff.

 Isma’il Abubakar, a resident of the Farawa area of Tarauni Local Government Area, said: “I have two wives and seven children. I used to ride a motorcycle but I now have to choose between keeping the motorcycle or the family.

“I cannot maintain both at the same time; I spend not less than a thousand naira for just ingredients that will be managed to cook two square meals. This is besides the grain, be it rice or maize,” he said. 

Another head of a family, Yahaya Salisu, said, “We eat just to survive. We no longer eat meat or fish except on rare occasions. Every day, the prices of foodstuffs are going higher.” 

In Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mrs Dorcas Sobowale told Daily Trust that both food prices and cost of transportation have increased by over 50 per cent. 

Sobowale, a trader and housewife, said a basket of tomato and pepper, which usually sold for between N6,000 and N8,000 has increased to N30,000; a basin of Garri from N2,700 to N5,200 and a carton of fish from N22,000 to N35,000. 

She added that transport fare has also skyrocketed with a distance which usually cost N100 now N200 or N250. 

Another housewife and a baker, Mrs Abisola Adeyemi-Pedro described the food price inflation as “frustrating and unbearable.” 

Adeyemi-Pedro expressed concern that the challenge has kept on pushing the masses to the brink and urged the government to address the economic crisis immediately. 

In Benue State, some households have decried what they described as “Unimaginable suffering following the hike of food commodity and transportation.

Blessing Ochehapo said her household of five is going through excruciating hardship due to the extreme cost of living.

She explained that bread, which sold for N800 before now has skyrocketed to N1, 000 while a rubber of garri she used to buy for N700 now sold for N1, 500. 

“I used to buy one kilogram of semovita for N800 but now it’s N1, 000 just as transportation has increased by 100 per cent,” Ochehapo said. 

In the same vein, Mrs Onyeje Joel said: “We don’t take tea and bread again. I have cut down on many things. For instance, I used to buy 15 onions for N500 but it is now 10 or eight for the same price. Also, N100 pepper can longer serve me; instead I buy N200 for the same quantity.

Women begin strike in Taraba

Women in Taraba State have started a two-week warning strike over the rising cost of grains especially guinea corn which they use for their businesses.

Vice chairperson of the association, Justina Solomon, said the strike became necessary in order to draw the attention of the state government over the rising cost of grains, saying many of her members had gone out of business.

Daily Trust findings revealed that a 100kg bag of guinea corn is sold at N40, 000; 100kg bag of maize at N45, 000 and 100kg bag of paddy rice at N30, 000 in the state.

Checks also revealed that most residents have opted for cassava which is cheaper.

Headline inflation for June rose to 22.79% 

According to the NBS, the headline inflation rate for June rose to 22.79% as against 22.41 per cent recorded in May. 

The NBS in its monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) report said the increase was 0.38 per cent points but on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 4.19% points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2022, which was 18.60 per cent. 

The NBS stated that the rise was caused by increases in prices of oil and fat, bread and cereals, fish, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fruits, meat, vegetables, milk, cheese and eggs. 

Others include passenger transport by air, gas, vehicle spare parts, liquid fuel, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, medical services and passenger transport by road etc. 

It added that the food inflation rate in June 2023 was 25.25 per cent on a year-on-year basis, which was 4.65 per cent points higher relative to the rate recorded in June 2022 (20.60 per cent). 

While on a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in June 2023 was 2.40 per cent, this was 0.21 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023 (2.19 per cent).

State profiles 

The report added that inflation was recorded highest in Lagos State with 25.75 per cent followed by Ondo State 25.40 per cent and Kogi State 25.23 per cent while the lowest was recorded in Borno State with 20.44 per cent, Zamfara State 20.93 per cent and Ekiti State 21.06 per cent. 

 It said the highest increases were in Kwara 30.8 per cent, Lagos 30.37 per cent and Kogi 29.71 per cent. 

Zamfara recorded the slowest rise on a year-on-year basis with 21.38 per cent, Sokoto, 21.60 per cent and Borno 21.75 per cent.

Increase too little to reflect the reality – Expert 

Speaking with Daily Trust, a senior economist at SPM Professionals, Paul Alaje, said it was not surprising that inflation rose a little as expected by experts. 

He said this is due to the impact of fuel subsidy removal felt in June while that of the unification of currency should be by July. 

He said most transactions in the economy were done in the parallel market rate, so this would limit its contribution to the high rate expected. 

“The two coming together, by the end of July, we should be looking at around 25 per cent, though a lot of concerns have been made on the methodology of the NBS and many of us have doubts about the methodology as its sampling size is too small and not in reality.

“I think the current inflation does not reflect the reality of what is going on with Nigerians but at least, it shows the direction and it is telling us it is going further higher at an increasing rate, but the rate is not a reality of what Nigerians are going through.”

He said the government will need to bring some substantial economic policy beyond sharing N500bn to households, which itself will still induce inflation further.

 

By Sunday M. Ogwu, Faruk Shuaibu (Abuja), Salim U. Ibrahim (Kano), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi) & Magaji Hunkuyi (Jalingo)

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