• Food prices tripled, traders expect further rise, fear low patronage
  • Many cancel, adjust travel plans for Christmas as transport fares keep rising

Many families risk celebrating the approaching Christmas and New Year in hardship due to the hike in the prices of goods and services, and are devising life-changing ways to cut costs, findings by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

Several families told our correspondents that life had become tougher for them as a result of the economic hardship in the country occasioned by the rising inflation of goods and services following the removal of subsidy on petrol.

As a result, many of the people who spoke to Saturday PUNCH said the Yuletide season would be low-keyed, adding that they might not make the usual trips to their hometowns as a result of the high cost of transportation and rising inflation.

According to official data, 63 per cent of Nigerians or 133 million people are currently living in multidimensional poverty.


A recent United Nations report stated that over 40 million households in the country were poor.

Nigerians from different walks of life, who spoke to our correspondents, revealed that they had resorted to borrowing, selling some of their valuables and adopting other cost-cutting measures as a result of the drastic increase in the cost of living.

Several experts have opined that if nothing is done to arrest the drift, millions of Nigerians will fall below the poverty line.

The National Bureau of Statistics in its Customer Price Index for October revealed that the headline inflation rate increased to 27.33 per cent relative to the September rate of 26.72 per cent.

This indicates that the country is facing its worst cost of living crisis in about 20 years.

 Food prices soar

The prices of many staple foods like rice and beans have almost tripled, according to a survey conducted by Sunday PUNCH.

Our correspondents who visited markets across Lagos and Ogun states report that a bag of rice now sells for around N55,000 as opposed to N48,000 in October.

A frozen food seller in Mowe, Ogun State, who identified herself simply as Mrs Makinde, disclosed that the prices of frozen fish, chicken and turkey had more than doubled in the last two months.

Many traders also anticipated that the prices would rise further before the peak of the festive season.

Makinde said, “I sold a bottle of palm oil on Thursday for N1,200. As of Friday, it had increased to N1,400. Before the end of next week, it may get to N1,800, or even N2,000 because the producers may go on break.

“As for rice, I was able to buy a bag for N48,000 a few weeks ago. As of yesterday (Thursday), when I reached out to my supplier, he said it was now N55,000 for the long grain and N52,000 for the short grain.”

Another trader, Mr Opeyemi Debo, said a carton of tomato paste that was sold for around N2,500 in November was now selling for N5,500.

He said, “A bucket of powdered pepper now sells for N4,500 from N2,500. A carton of stockfish (panla) now sells for N24,000 from around N15,000, which it sold for last month.

“A bucketful measure of egusi (melon), which sold for around N4,000 last month, now goes for N5,500. A bucket of onion, which used to be N3,000, is now N7,000.

“A carton of chicken now ranges between N32,000 and N34,000 as opposed to N22,000, which it sold for in September and October.

“Turkey now sells for N55,000 for a carton as opposed to N35,000 in October.

“Chicken wings now sell for N35,000  a carton. Five litres of palm oil now sells for N5,000 from around N25,000 in October.

“A paint bucket of yellow garri is now N2,000 as opposed to N800 two months ago. A carton of gizzard is now between N38,500 and N42,000, and I can tell you that it will increase. As for rice, it may sell for N60,000 before Christmas.”

 Reduced patronage

A Lagos-based trader, Mrs Ilerioluwa Bamisaye, expressed concern that the increase in the prices of foodstuffs might reduce patronage during the festive period.

According to her, as food prices soar, many families may not be able to afford to celebrate the festive season as they should.

Bamisaye said “I doubt people will come out to buy much this year because the prices of items have tripled. A pack of spaghetti we were selling between N7,000 and N8,000 is now N13,000. Rice is now food for the rich. A bag of beans is now N120,000; whereas before now, it was N70,000. Customers are always asking us for cheaper protein alternatives like shawa (herring fish) and eggs, as well as ponmo (cow hide).”

Another trader in the Ibafo Market, Ogun State, Mrs Opeyemi Jude, who sells wholesale, lamented that the Yuletide season was not reflected in her sales. 

“It doesn’t even seem as if we are preparing for Christmas. Around this time last year, many people were coming to buy bags of food items. We all know what is happening now. We only appeal to the government to put the economy in shape so that people will celebrate the season with joy.  It is so disturbing that the amount you buy today will be different from what you will get for tomorrow,” she said.

On her part, another trader, Opeyemi Adediran, noted that a portion of tomatoes sold before at N100 was now selling for N500, while pepper increased to N200 from N50 for a portion of five balls.

A fish seller, Mrs Titilayo Oloyode, stated that the mackerel fish (Titus), which sold for N700 last year, was now selling for N1,400 each.

“A carton of Titus fish has increased from N7,000 around April to N57,000, while Kote fish (horse mackerel) now sells for N38,500 per carton instead of N9,000 before subsidy removal. Twenty kilograms of Alaska fish sold for N4,500 before, but currently sells for N26,000,” she noted.

Businesses suffer

Speaking on the increase in the prices of food items, a foodstuffs seller in Lagos, Mrs Oluwatosin Olanrewaju, explained that a bag of potatoes, which sold for between N2,500 and N3,000 about six months ago, currently sells for N8,000.

According to her, a medium-sized tuber of yam now sells for between N1,000 and N1,500 instead of between N500 and N700 earlier in the year, noting that the increase in prices of commodities had led to a reduction in patronage.

She also stated that transportation fare from the North to Lagos had increased from N1,500 per bag to N5,000.

Olanrewajusaid, “I don’t have many people patronising me like before because of the bad economy. I should have gone to buy more goods last week, but you can see that I still have many tubers of yam, which I bought four days ago. If it was last year, they would have finished in two days. People are now opting for potato instead of yam because it is cheaper.”

Another trader, Happiness Bitrus, explained that local and foreign rice (small grain), which sold for N1,500 and N2,000 per plastic measure before, currently sells for N3,800 and N4,500, respectively.

She added that a bag of foreign rice (small and big), which sold for N33,000 and N40,000 earlier in the year, now sells for between N47,000 and N55,000, respectively.

A big bag of beans (drum variety) currently sells for between N110,000 and N115,000, while a small bag sells for N52,000. Before the removal of petrol subsidy, the item was sold between N35,000 and N40,000.

On her part, a tomato and pepper trader, Rachael Adebalogun, said, “The rising prices are not our fault because a bag of pepper before was between N10,000 and N15,000, but it is now sold for N50,000.

“A basket of tomatoes is now N15,000 but it was N8,000 before, while the small bag and the big bag sold for N15,000, but now it is between N70,000 and N80,000. A bag of onions that we bought for N20,000 and N30,000 before is currently sold for between N130,000 and N230,000. The government should pity us.  Customers are complaining and they always lament when they come here.”


 Families cut costs

A mother of five, Madam Uka Osondu, said her family had dumped chicken and turkey from their meals since July.

“We now eat ponmo, Shawa and Kote fish. We eat eggs sometimes but not all the time. We eat more of jollof rice and not rice and stew because we have found out that it is cheaper. This Christmas is not looking like Christmas at all. My children have been complaining but there is nothing we can do about the situation,” she said.

For a young lady based in Ogun State, Favour Aliu, the economic hardship has forced her to reduce her daily meal consumption level from thrice to once.

Lamenting the situation, she said, “When I take N10,000 to the market before, it would afford me rice, beans and some packs of spaghetti, with ingredients to cook them.

“But now, that amount can barely afford two paint buckets of rice. I now take garri in the afternoon.

“As for the aspect of cooking gas, it has compounded my woes. I will soon start using firewood if the price does not reduce because I cannot afford to buy a kilogram of gas for N1,500.

“I can’t even use an electric cooker because there is no stable electricity. My prayer is for God to help us. It has become so difficult. The government should do something to calm the rising inflation and general hardship in the country.”

A mother-of-two, Mrs Omotolani Odeyale, said her family had stopped stocking foodstuffs, adding that she now purchases items in bits whenever the need arises because of the cost of the items.

Another Ogun resident, a mother of four, Mrs Iyabo Wasiu, said, “Everything has worsened. I didn’t believe it would be this bad. Did you know that I took garri with water yesterday night when I realised that the money with me would not be enough for what I planned to do today?  I had no other option.

“I use a sachet of tomatoes twice whenever I cook rice. I only cook soup on weekends to cut costs. On weekdays, I don’t even cook most times because of the cost of gas.”

A housewife, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Sholape, said she had to borrow from money lenders to be able to augment the monthly feeding money she gets from her husband.

“Before now, my family’s monthly upkeep money was N15,000 and it was more than enough to feed me, my husband and three kids, but now it can barely feed us once every day for two weeks.

A pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ, Trinity Model Parish in Ota, Ogun State, Daniel Omonokhua, said the general increase in prices of items in the country was not favourable.

“The general increase in the prices of fuel and other commodities is not so favourable. The church most times makes use of generators because of the inadequacies of the public power supply. This is to say that, the amounts we spend on fuel and servicing the generators have doubled, so we watch the time and do not overrun the generators,” he said.

 Transport fares increase

Our correspondents, who visited bus terminals in Jibowu, Yaba, Ojota, Berger and Lekki, all in Lagos State, observed that the fares to many destinations had increased by nearly 100 per cent.

A passenger at a park in Yaba, Mrs Chiwendu Osu, who was heading for Enugu, said she was shocked when told that the fare was N19,000.

“The fare was N8000 in March. I travelled in May and it was N11,000. How can I pay N19,000 now?” she queried.

The atmosphere at the Jibowu bus terminus on Thursday morning was not as bubbly as it used to be.

One of our correspondents gathered from the different operators that the fares to various destinations would change in the days leading to Christmas.

For most transport companies at Jibowu, the average fare to the East hovers between N20,000 and N28,000

At the Peace Mass Transit bus terminal, the fares to various destinations were posted on a wall.

Several passengers told Saturday PUNCH that the bus fares had nearly tripled to what it was last Christmas.

A frequent traveller, Mr George Asamota, who claimed to have travelled to Port Harcourt in March, said the fare from Lagos was around N17,000.

“Now, it will cost me nothing less than N25,000 to travel from Lagos to Port Harcourt, and this will change as the festive season draws nearer.”

A ticket vendor at the Peace bus terminal, who refused to give his name, noted that the fares would change next week, adding that travellers could pre-book tickets.

“The earliest time anyone can buy a ticket for any trip is three days ahead of the trip,” the source added.

At the God is Good Motors, reservations can only be made a day before the trip.

Saturday PUNCH observed from its website that the fare to Port Harcourt was N19,000.

The fare from Lagos to Osun was fixed at N8,000. From Lagos to Kwara, the fare was fixed at N11,000. All these, according to the management of the firm, are expected to change soon.

Reduced travels

As a result of the hike in transport fares, many residents of urban centres told our correspondents that they would not be making any trips home for the festive season.

For instance, a Lagos resident, Mr Emeka Ifeakachi, said he would rather send money to his immediate family members in Rivers State rather than travel to Port Harcourt.

He said, “My father struggles with ill health and the last time I travelled home to see him was during the 2021 Christmas and New Year, and I spent a total of N20,000 on transportation.

“Now, I will be spending like N40,000. I don’t think that will be a smart decision to make. I would rather send them money so that they can buy medicine for my father.”

Another Lagos resident, Chibueze Ugochukwu, said his family would not travel to his hometown, Mbieri, in Imo State, due to the hike in fuel price and his difficult economic situation.

He stated, “Normally, in our culture when you are going to your town or village at the end of the year, there must be something significant about your life that you will showcase to let people realise that you are making progress and that you have achieved in the year.

“But this year, things have gone from bad to worse. Since the middle of the year, it has been hard to keep up and I can’t point to anything significant that has been added to my life, so what is the essence of going to the village for assorted meetings and church harvests? Is it to show them that I am still where I used to be?”

On his part, a data analyst who resides in Abuja, Seun Adesipe, noted that he would travel during the festive season but this would cost more.

“I will come down to Lagos by flight to meet my parents and siblings and that is only because it’s our family tradition. I have not seen them for months and the Yuletide season is usually one where we get to see and celebrate together, but to be sincere, it will be a huge financial sacrifice this time,” he stated.

An Ibadan, Oyo State-based man, Mr Emmanuel Adekunle, said he had the intention of travelling with his family to his hometown in Ondo State for the festive period, but had to change the plans due to the increase in the pump price of petrol.

He said, “I usually travel with my family for the New Year festivity every year but we can’t do that now because we all know what the petrol price is saying now. Instead, I will send money to my people at home and manage myself and my family in Ibadan.”

Another Lagos resident, Mr Ife Adeniran said, “We had plans to travel to our hometown in Osun State, but when we considered the transportation cost, we decided to cancel it.”

All plans to travel home to Anambra for the Okparas this Christmas have long been cancelled.

The Lagos-based real estate developer, Mr Chukwudi Okpara, said due to the insecurity in the eastern region and the high inflation rate, it did not make sense to travel home this Christmas season.

No Christmas clothes

Christmas wear, especially for children, is a regular feature of the festive season. However, this year, there are indications that many parents will not be buying any for their kids.

A father of four, Mr Joseph Temitayo, said he had long cancelled plans to buy clothes for his kids.

“I already explained to them that they would have to choose between food and clothes. I cannot afford to buy clothes and still buy food with this crippling inflation,” he said.

A single mother in Rivers State, Ere Alamina, said she told her two young sons that they would not be wearing new clothes this Yuletide.

“They almost drowned me with their tears, but I have to handle only the things that are important, and food is number one on that list,” she said.

 Economists react

Some economic experts have noted that the inflation rate in the country will continue to rise if the government continues to implement policies that are inimical to growth, adding that most of these policies so far reeled out by the Federal Government were ill-timed.

They also noted that inflation would affect the Yuletide, as many Nigerian families might not be able to celebrate as they should.

A developmental economist and tax expert, Mr Ade Dayo, said the ever-rising inflation was an effect of combined economic woes.

He stated, “Nigeria barely produces anything that can be exported. We rely wholly on imports, even for things that we can produce. The environment for small businesses and other entrepreneurs is not conducive. Many businesses have closed down as a result. There is no respite.

“When these things are added to the confusion in the forex market where $1 is over N1,000, it is obvious why the prices of goods and services will continue to rise.”

He advised the government to set up a policy implementation team that would look at, not just the textbook advantages of policies, but fashion out ways to make sure that Nigerians did not suffer because of one ill-implemented economic policy or the other.

Another economic expert and development researcher, Dr Musa Usman, said the government should declare a state of emergency on the economy.

He added that Nigerians were suffering in the face of the already battered economy left by the immediate past administration and some of the policies of the incumbent.

Usman said, “For every policy that a government makes, there is a ripple effect. This effect could be positive or negative, or a mix of both. The ability of a government to manage this effect is what makes it a thinking one.

“The Federal Government must show leadership in the way that it runs the affairs of the state. The economy cannot be this bad and we have such a bloated system. Food inflation is nearing 30 per cent. This is something that used to be in single digits in the past. When it hit 15 per cent, everyone thought it was too bad. Now, it has almost hit 30.

“In a country where the minimum wage is N30,000 and there are over 133 multi-dimensionally poor people and over 40 million poor households, how are they expected to cope with the new prices of food, transport, fees and other basics? This is a recipe for disaster. By the time it gets to the festive season, a paint bucket of rice may sell for N5,000 if the government does not pull its weight and get the country out of the doldrums.”

He also criticised the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, who he quoted to have said many investors were not ready to bring Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria.

“If the economy is friendly and attractive, investors will flood in. We don’t want to be hearing about the problems and challenges all the time. Nigerians need to know what the government is doing to make the economy liveable for its citizens. That is the primary responsibility of the government,” he added.

A professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sheriffdeen Tella, urged the Federal Government to prioritise food production to reduce inflation.

He said, “Since the reports from the NBS identified the domestic factors as cost of production and food, it is apparent that food production must be a priority, while efficiency in power production with cost reduction is imperative.

“The CBN must continue to work on strengthening the exchange rate to be able to reduce the cost of imports of raw materials for industries.”

On his part, a professor of Financial Economics and Dean, School of Business and Entrepreneurship, American University of Nigeria, Leo Ukpong, enjoined the government to prioritise infrastructure development to tackle the impact of high inflation.

According to him, the current inflation is driven by several factors, of which the primary ones are shortage of fuel, and shortage of foodstuffs due to insecurity in the agricultural belt of our country.

He added that the high cost of importation which demeaned indigenous production, the depreciation of the naira, the high cost of borrowing faced by businesses, and bad economic policies had continued to worsen the country’s situation.