The Sun News

New year gift for Abuja residents

Skyrocketing prices of food items, school fees, rent crush hope

By FRED ITUA

Nigeria is in recession. Inflation is at its peak. Jobs have been lost. Homes and families are in jeopardy. Young men are financially too handicap to venture into marriage as a result of the biting economic crunch, occasioned by recession.
In Abuja, particularly, where the cost of living is almost beyond the reach of an ordinary Nigerian, the effects of the recession appear to be more severe. Prices of food items, which were before the Yuletide period moderate, have skyrocketed.
Residents who traveled to their villages during the festive season have returned to a new Abuja with a new price regime. In markets from Wuse to Kubwa, Garki to Dei Dei, the lamentations are the same: cost of food items has hit the roof.
In Dutse Alhaji market, cost of food items since the beginning of the year has gone up by over 20 per cent. Rice (local and foreign), gari, fish (frozen and fresh), tomato and oil (local and foreign), among others, have gone up astronomically.
When Daily Sun visited the market, sellers and buyers were exchanging unfriendly banter overt the new prices. Many buyers who could not come to terms with the prices left the market, while several others had to buy what they could immediately afford.
A buyer, Lucky Silas, who said he came to the market to get food stuff for his family, since his pregnant wife could not go through the stress, told our correspondent that he could not afford the new prices. The money he came to the market with was insufficient to buy half of what he had on his list.
He said: “I traveled home for the Christmas period. This is my first time here in the market since I got back this year. What I saw today got me scared. I do not know what is happening. I can no longer cope with this Abuja. I came to the market, thinking things were already bad enough. But when I came here, I discovered that the prices of rice, gari and other basic things I used to buy from the market have gone up. I used to blame my wife and I thought she used to lie to me. But coming here today has showed that Abuja is no longer a city for ordinary people like me. My wife was not lying to me.”
Another respondent, Mrs. Felicia Ado, also decried the new prices. She said, going forward, she would boycott Abuja’s main markets and patronise markets in villages, where prices of food items were fairly cheaper.
She said: “I came here today and realised that what they sell here can no longer be afforded by people like me. I have agreed with my friend who has a space bus, every week, we will drive to Bwari village market. I am aware food items are cheaper there.
“I have other things begging for my attention. What I earn is no longer enough to feed my home. My husband does not earn much too. We are both civil servants and I do not know where we will go from here. This is January and we are yet to pay our children’s school fees.”
A shop owner in the market, Matthew Oshioke, told our correspondent that the new tariffs introduced by the Federal Government were already taking a toll on prices. He said food items produced locally, which are not affected by the new import tariffs, were still enjoying moderate rates in the market.
“I also traveled home for Christmas. When I got back and wanted to stock my shop, I realised that prices of things had changed. I had to reflect the new prices and other shop owners in the market have done the same thing. We are in business to make money and people must understand.
“We cannot buy something at high prices and sell them cheap. We will incur huge losses. People need to understand that. If there is anybody to be blamed, its the government of the day. They determine prices of items through their policies. I need people to understand this fact,” Oshioke said.
Aside from food items, other things in Abuja have been affected by recession. Parents whose children resume school this week have complained of their inability to pay the new fees imposed on them by private school owners.
Many parents said they may be forced to withdraw their children from private schools and enroll them in public schools, pending when things improve in the country.
As a way of cushioning the biting effects of the economic recession, some Abuja residents who hitherto had fleets of cars, have started selling them off to meet obligations and family responsibilities. Sale of cars by residents, Daily Sun gathered, is usually prevalent at the beginning of every school term.
Some car dealers who spoke on the issue said with the implementation of the new Customs tariffs, sale of Nigerian-used cars is becoming the new order. The car dealers said car owners sometimes swap their luxurious cars for less expensive cars and use the excess money to meet family needs.
There are other areas in which Abuja residents are not finding it easy anymore. Cost of transportation from the suburbs to the city centre has also gone up astronomically. Residents who can no longer afford decent apartments in the city are moving in droves to the suburbs, while landlords are also reviewing cost of rent downwards.

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Online Editor: Aderonke Bello
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