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News - South West - Oyo Updated: February 26, 2024

Hardship: Oyo workers, traders battle depression over food inflation, resort to high bank interest loans

By Kehinde Ayanboade
February 26, 2024
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It is no longer news that Nigeria is undergoing an economic crisis which has resulted in an unprecedented rise in the price of food and other essential commodities affecting the cost of living of the average citizen. 

Nigerians have continued to vent their grief and express their dissatisfaction towards the current hardship in the country.

At least, 50,000 tweets with the #Nigeriaprotest, #hardship, #emilokan #NairaVsUSD, #1USD, #Tinubu, and many other topics are being put out daily on social media, especially on Twitter.

The tweets have continued to question the effort of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration since he assumed office on May 29, 2023.

In a comprehensive report, residents, workers, traders and civil society organizations in Oyo state have lamented the current situation and the government's inaction. 

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Speaking with Allnews.ng, notable opinion leaders unveiled the pains of the people of the pacesetter state as they also proffered suitable recommendations that can help cushion the negative effect of the economic crisis in the country.

Insecurity: Major Menace Behind Food Inflation — Aderemi

Speaking on the ongoing hardship, the Chairman of Oyo Market Men and Women, Alh. Ismaila Aderemi told Allnews.ng that the problem Nigerians are facing did not start under the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

He noted that the case of inflation was long overdue but  only escalated due to the case of insecurity surge in the country, highlighting kidnapping, herders, and Boko Haram terrorism as major issues.

Aderemi, who doubles as the Babaloja of the popular Bodija market in Ibadan, Oyo State capital stressed that the government needs to fix the menace of insecurity in the country to ensure the movement of food items across the nation.

He added that goods produced from various regions of the nation differ and food inflation will get worse if kidnapping persists in the country. 

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He said; “We are now saying the current President does not care for the people. The problem of Nigeria did not just start today. People are complaining about subsidy removal but failed to understand that subsidy had been removed before the end of Buhari’s administration.

“However, we need to charge the government on the need to improve our security, if the country is crime-free, the hardship may not be as hard as it is now.  When people are allowed to move freely, they will be encouraged to take to their farms and cultivate. The government has to adjust. 

“We are suffering from Boko Haram, Fulani herders and kidnapping surge in the country, our roads are not safe. All regions have their unique kind of production.

“What we produce differs and there is the need for us to consume our produce together. If the roads are not safe, people will be afraid to transport food and this has contributed to the problem we are facing. 

“As the leader of Oyo State market men and women, I can confirm that all the 33 local governments, Ogbomoso, Ibarapa, Oke Ogun zones are suffering from inflation.

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“If a trader has 500,000 Naira when Rice was about 15,000 to 20,000 per bag, he/she will be able to stock enough goods and make profits compared to nowadays. Sales are not moving, the prices are high, the market is depressive.”

High-interest bank loans

Narrating the sad experience of traders in Oyo State, Alh. Aderemi lamented that traders have no choice than to go for heavy-interest loans from micro-finance banks to restock their goods. He further called on the government to provide financial aids to traders and farmers across the country to encourage food production and supply. 

“We resolve to take “Gbomulelanta”. We go for high-interest loans from banks because of the hardship but our profits are already gone and to even pay back those loans at the end of the year is a problem. This is what we are facing," he shared. 

“In my own experience from business and trading, we have appealed to the government many times that they should provide soft loans to the people to support agriculture and food supply.

“Nigerian government gives loans on papers, only high ranking people benefit from these loans. Establishments are closing down due to a lack of government support.

“The government should come to the aid of the traders and farmers and give financial support, this is the solution to the hardship. There are lots of people who are ready to work.

“I was happy to hear that a Governor bought 100 tractors and distributed them to farmers a few days ago, it is going to get better if we support them. The government should think of themselves and not just personal interests.”

Fixing minimum wage at 300,000 without fixing the economy won't work

Also speaking on the current tough economic situation, Ag. Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Oyo State, Comrade Akande Ibrahim expressed dissatisfaction with how the Federal Government is managing the ongoing crisis in the country.

He questioned why subsidy removal which is expected to have brought succor to the people has in reverse brought untold hardship to the people in the country.

Akande opined that the Federal Government needs to work collaboratively with the state Government to correct the anomalies, adding that increasing the minimum wage alone will not solve the problem.

“It is unfortunate that at this level, when you think the removal of subsidy will give us succor and we are envisaging when we are buying and you are subsidizing, it means government funds are used to reduce price.

“What we have right now is suffering and hardship everywhere. People are dying everyday and the condition of the country is nothing to write home about. 

“I tell our fellow union, even if we receive N300,000 minimum wage and they refuse to control our economy, it will never work. They need to open the border to reduce inflation.

“The Federal Government says they are dishing out palliative to workers in Nigeria which only appears on paper, myself and my people never benefitted from anything like that. They said they had approved 35,000 wage award to workers and this sincerely can’t go any length.

“A simple analysis is that if you are going to work everywhere and when we buy fuel for 165 naira (per litre) you used to budget 20 litres of fuel per week. 165 multiplied by 10 is 1650.

“Assuming you were paying 4,000 for 20 litres, if you want to buy 20 litres as of today, it is 650 multiplied by 20 which is about 13,000. If you remove 4,000, that is an additional 9,000 Naira in a week.

“The cost of living is almost times 3 of what it used to be. A bag of rice which we used to get for N25,000 to 32,000 Naira before has skyrocketed to over 60,000 Naira not to talk of other things.

“The N35,000 promised is not being paid as at when due, it is not even cushioning any effect. Some states have not been doing anything.  We appreciate the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde for giving 25,000 Naira and it is regular, we thank him for that. 

“Governors that used to receive about 5 billion now receive 15 billion. The Federal Government should call on the state Governors and discuss a possible way out of this. Governors should be charged to do the needful on how to cushion these effects in their various states.

Naira devaluation no longer an issue but a crisis

Speaking on the continuous devaluation of the Naira, Akande noted that the case of the crash against the dollar in the money market is no longer an issue but has metamorphosed into a major crisis.

He added that even the National Assembly deals in dollars, charging the Government to invite financial experts to deliberate on the ways to end the crisis.

“In the National Assembly, they don’t pay themselves in Naira, they pay in dollars, they deal with dollars, then how do we want the naira to gain value?

“The Government should reduce the importation of things we buy in dollars and buy in Naira and let the president consult relevant financial experts who know the onus to deliberate on the way as the Naira devaluation is no more an issue but a crisis.

“Whenever they want to launder money, they do it in dollars and not Naira, they are the ones giving us the problem, they are the ones devaluing our Naira. People do things on what suits their purpose and will never want to do something that will affect them.

“If you look at one of Sanusi’s interviews, he said when he was CBN Governor, he asked some questions that never got answers till now. 

“It is not a crisis that starts today but at this level, it has become what we cannot endure anymore, what we are spending on a daily basis is not what our income can take care of; a lot of people have been laid off their jobs, we see people who dressed well on the road begging for food. 

“If the Government does not do something very quickly, I pray Nigeria does not turn to another thing, because these small protests by civil society organizations are just mere take-off. A time will come when a man or woman will take to the streets and start burning tyres and it will escalate from there. The people are not happy. The Government should do something very quickly.”

Also in a short comment, the Treasurer of the Civil Society Coalition for Sustainable Development (CSCSD) in Oyo State, Dr Olatunji Oluwabukola noted that the current hardship affects all including private workers, artisans and civil servants.

Olatunji who doubles as the convener of Cedars for Human Affairs (CHA) also lamented the increase in the price of fuel and food in the country, adding that despite the crisis, the government is yet to implement a new minimum wage.

Recall that the Tinubu government has appealed for more time to deal with the current situation, assuring Nigerians that the current economic hardship Will soon be contained. 

Similarly, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and Nyesom Wike, the FCT minister have all appealed to Nigerians to give the government time to deal with the current situation. 

To end the economic crisis, President Bola Tinubu on Sunday established an economic advisory committee. The committee comprises the federal government, sub-nationals and the private sector.

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