By Maria Famakinwa
Nigerians are adopting different measures to cushion the effect of the hardship occasioned by the removal of subsidy on petrol, which consequently resulted in the increase of prices of virtually everything, especially food and transportation.
Many citizens of the country are struggling on a daily basis to adjust to the harsh economic reality that left them with no alternative but to accept the pains of buying a litre of fuel for N500 and above against N189 per litre before subsidy removal amid rumours of further increase, and paying far more for less units of electricity. Life is now unbearable for most Nigerians, with many suggesting that the only solution is aggressive farming.
Athough Nigerians are regarded as resilient and ready to adapt to any change, the situation on ground has really broken everyone, turning many to unfortunate beggars, while the majority resort to frugality to survive.
A farmer, Mr Badiru Alo, who observed that increase in the cost of feeding is forcing some families to go to bed with empty stomachs, blamed the major problem of hunger in the land on insecurity, and urged government to take urgent steps at addressing it.
He said: “Though many citizens are blaming the hunger and suffering in the land on fuel subsidy removal, but I quite agree that the major problem is insecurity. If farmers can go to farm without fear of being kidnapped, our markets will be flooded with food, thus forcing prices to go down, and the impact of the subsidy removal will not be felt this much.
“I stopped farming three years ago when my farm along Owo-Akure road was invaded by unknown people. They harvested my maize and destroyed my cassava. Another farmer whose farm is close to mine has also abandoned his tomatoes and peppers on the farm since last year after he narrowly escaped been kidnapped in the same axis. The story has been the same with many other farmers. Most jobless youths would have embraced farming if proper security had been put in place. Report of farmers being kidnapped in their farms for ransoms or killed if their families could not cough out the money demanded discouraged farming, and nothing will change unless government puts in place adequate security,” he said.
A nurse with a private hospital, Mrs Balikis Sule, lamented that some patients who ought to come for treatment in the hospital had resorted to herbs or over-the-counter medicine without any prescription.
“A nursing mother whose three-year-old child had been running temperature for days refused to bring him to the hospital until when one of our nurses who lived close heard about it and forced her to bring the child to the hospital. Thank God that the child was brought to the hospital, because he was already convulsing. While treating the child, the mother collapsed and we were about giving her injection when she opened up that she had not eaten since the previous day, because she had no money to feed she said that her husband, an okada, rider who delivered money to the owner of the okada had since stopped because he was not making any gain due to increase in fuel price.
“The woman’s case was just one out of many cases we had in the hospital. You will be surprised that some came for delivery without bringing anything, only for the nurses and kind hearted people around to donate delivery kits to them. Sincerely speaking, most Nigerians walking on the streets are living corpses because they have no food to eat.”
A civil servant, Mrs Janet Dekolajo, lamented that since the removal of fuel subsidy, feeding her three children had been very tough because prices of foodstuffs were beyond the reach of the common man. “On a weekly basis, my three children spend N5000 on transportation despite trekking some distance to cut the cost. Feeding is another challenging issue that I have been struggling to cope with. Tomatoes and pepper are so expensive that I have to devise another idea to feed my family, like buying grinded pepper as the alternative.
“Last month when I went to the market, tomatoes were shaded N500, but as I speak with you, sellers now shade tomatoes N1000. You will hardly see N500 tomatoes in the market now, except the rotten ones. Once I remove that amount from my salary, what is left? The only option is that we skip meals and fall back on the little foodstuffs at home to keep body and soul together. Prices of rice, beans, garri, palm oil, vegetables oil among other consumables have skyrocketed. I am confused about how best to handle the situation because ordinary citizens are the ones bearing the brunt,” she lamented.
A trader, Oludayo Ajayi, who described the situation facing most citizens as pathetic warned that if nothing is done to ameliorate the unbearable hunger, it might lead to chaos. “Are you aware that some workers have turned beggars to feed? Last week, a friend of mine was the one who sent money to me, including foodstuffs, before my children could eat.
“I have put up some set of pots I have at home for sale, but I am yet to see any serious buyer. My husband and I have been trying our best before subsidy removal to feed, but now we are tired. My husband, an artisan, hardly gets customers. The few who are coming want services done on credit. Our children all attend public schools but giving them daily transportation to school, aside feeding, has not been easy. I call people to assist, likewise my husband calls his friends, but we can’t be doing that always.
“Last month, there was a mild drama in my compound when BEDC officials brought the electricity bill and threatened to cut the line if we refused to pay our bill. They were surprised when every occupant of the house agreed that the line should be disconnected, which they did. That is the result you get when people are frustrated and tired. For any government to succeed, essential needs of the people must be proritised. There is serious hunger in the land and it must be attended to immediately, to avert protest.”
A mechanic, Mr Richard Adebowale, said business activity has significantly reduced because customers, who used to visit to repair their vehicles before the subsidy removal have found a way to access their destination through public transportation.
“These days, I have to call my customers to remind them I’m still open for business. All they tell me is ‘our cars are parked for now, and we need to choose between buying fuel for pleasurable drive or purchasing food so that we can stay healthy’. The situation has gotten to that extent. This is just barely 30 days into this present administration, and we have had to battle high cost of fuel which has affected every other thing, including cost of spare parts. We can only hope that things get better, but, as it is today, things are getting worse,” he said.