Cash Crunch Bites Christmas Feast: Nigerians Struggle under Naira Scarcity ; Christmas Feast:, a season synonymous with celebrations and joy, has traditionally been a time for family reunions and joyous festivities. For many Nigerians, it’s a season of homecoming, where they travel to be with their loved ones, creating cherished memories during the Yuletide.

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    However, this year presents a stark contrast as various economic challenges have cast a shadow over the holiday season. The scarcity of Naira notes, exorbitant increases in transport fares, and soaring food prices have combined to make travel and celebrations an uphill task for many.

    The grim economic situation is exacerbated by factors such as the removal of the fuel subsidy and the devaluation of the Naira. President Bola Tinubu’s decision to remove the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) earlier in the year has led to a significant hike in fuel prices, reaching N620 per liter from the previous N185.

    A visit to bustling motor parks and markets in major cities like Lagos and Abuja paints a vivid picture of the prevailing mood. Traders at these locations bemoan low patronage, with many attributing it to the removal of the fuel subsidy, which has contributed to the astronomical rise in the prices of essential commodities.

    Two traders at the Kuje Market in Abuja shared their grievances, highlighting the challenges they face due to increased prices. Mummy Ade, who sells rice, beans, and other cooking items, expressed concern over the impact of fuel price hikes on transportation costs.


    She said, “Everything you see now in my shop has added price. I am not selling them at the same price I was selling earlier this year and even last month. This is due to the increase in the price of fuel. These things we buy are transported from one place to the other, so we do not expect that the price will not reflect on the food items we are buying.”

    Jude Eze, another trader, emphasized the adverse effects of the removal of fuel subsidy on the cost of living. He appealed to President Tinubu to reconsider the subsidy removal to alleviate the economic burden on the masses.

    Eze remarked, “Things are costly, we are not making a profit. As a result, people are leaving the country because the pressure and harsh economic conditions of Nigeria are becoming unbearable. If I were to directly talk to Tinubu, I would ask him to reverse the removal of fuel subsidy and crash the prices of food items. That’s the only way he can show that he cares for the poor masses.”

    As Nigeria grapples with economic challenges, the festive season that is traditionally marked by joy and togetherness is marred by economic hardship, leaving many struggling to afford basic necessities.

    Economic hardship

    As the Christmas season unfolds, major markets in Nigeria, such as Oyingbo and Mile12 in Lagos, paint a somber picture marked by low trader turnouts and economic hardship. The cost of essential commodities, including rice, tomatoes, onions, and cooking oil, has skyrocketed, making it increasingly challenging for many Nigerians to afford basic necessities.

    A 50kg bag of long-grain rice is priced at N65,000, while short-grain rice fetches N50,000. Additionally, tomatoes are sold between N18,000 and N20,000 per basket, and onions range from N110,000 to N120,000 per bag. These exorbitant prices, coupled with a minimum wage of N30,000 and unpaid salaries in several states, underscore the financial strain on citizens.

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    Jacinta, a foodstuff vendor in Ejigbo, Lagos, expressed frustration, stating, “The economy is bad, and nothing is working. It’s unfortunate that this government only knows how to visit hardship on the people.”

    At Mile12 International Market, wholesalers like Mrs. Bukola Osagie highlighted the staggering price increases in staple foods within a year. In December 2022, a trailer of Nigerian rice with 600 bags sold for N14.4 million, priced at N24,000 per bag. Now, the same trailer costs N52,000 per bag, requiring N31.2 million to purchase—a more than 100 percent increase.

    Comparisons with 2022 reveal significant price hikes across various items: foreign rice (N30,000 to N32,000), beans (N60,000 to N75,000), and vegetable oil (N21,000 to N38,000). Everyday items like watermelon, spaghetti, noodles, and tomato paste have seen substantial price increments, adding to the financial strain on consumers.

    Unbanked Nigerians

    Transportation costs have also surged, with a journey from Lagos to Onitsha ranging between N30,000 and N35,000. Transporters express dissatisfaction with the unusually low travel demand during what is traditionally considered a peak season.

    As the nation faces economic challenges, the festive season that should be marked by joy and celebration is overshadowed by the harsh realities of high prices, making it a difficult time for many Nigerians.

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