By Omoh Gabriel,
Some Nigerians say the current economic meltdown has inculcated in them, a sense of ‘financial discipline’ in their spending. They said that they had now prepared a ‘mini-budget’ to determine their spending as a measure for coping with the economic situation in the country. Alhaji Faruoq Ado, a civil servant in Dutse, said since the current economic recession started, he had been making purchases strictly on his monthly estimate. Hajiya Azumi Shehu, another civil servant in Dutse and also a widow, said the recession was a big challenge for her and her family. Shehu disclosed that she had reduced their three square meals to two due to the recession that made prices of foodstuff to skyrocket. She explained that after breakfast, she cooked lunch for the family and ensured it also served as dinner.
According to her, the hardship has disciplined the family on how to manage and get satisfied with the little available to them. Also, Alhaji Sajo Maitaya said that the recession had taught him how to live according to his means. He said that he was extravagant before the recession, but now spent on basic needs only.
Maitaya said that he had intended to have a third wife but had to “tarry a while” due to economic challenges. Accordingly, Alhaji Baffa Sani, another resident, said that he had been forced to transfer four of his children from private to public schools due to the recession.
According to him, I can no longer cope with high school fees in the private schools. In Gombe, some residents are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to introduce price control mechanisms and enforce compliance. They said that such measures would assist in reducing the hardship faced by ordinary Nigerians as a result of the economic downturn. “If government imposes price control on foodstuff, medicine and other essential commodities, it will reduce the hardship by more than 50 per cent,” Malam Idris Abdullahi, a civil servant said there were no extra left after the purchase of basic items. Alhaji Muhammad Muhammad, another resident, said although the recession was a bad omen, it had its advantage as it had forced a lot of people to go back to the farm. “Not only have Nigerians gone back to the farm, they also have imbibed fiscal discipline as the culture of extravagant spending has gone,” he noted.
Similarly, respondents in Yola, have also advised government to establish Price Control Board to check the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities. They were of the view that the hike was being engineered deliberately by shylock businessmen to maximise profit, hiding under the excuse of “meltdown in the national and global economy”. Mr Joshua Dogo, a barber in Jimeta, said that lack of money in circulation had affected his business negatively. Dogo said that the number of customers, who used to visit his shop, had dropped drastically. He said that the situation had made him to adjust all his ways of life and, therefore, urged the government to introduce price control measures to mitigate the economic hardship. Mr Adamu Mohammed, a tricycle operator in Yola, said that the economic downturn had made a lot of people to develop the habit of trekking. According to him, this development has reduced patronage of his service, leaving him with little income compared to what obtained in the past. He said that the situation had affected his savings, explaining that the N3,000 that he used to save on daily basis was no longer forthcoming. Mohammed said that the ‘jamboree’ lifestyle that he subscribed to in the past had to be replaced with austere life pattern, adding that he no longer “attend wedding ceremonies and splash money” as was the case before. He called on the Federal Government to establish a commodity price control organ of government that would regulate the activities of shylock businessmen. Meanwhile, some people in Bauchi consider the economic meltdown as a global recession while others see it as being engineered by some selfish Nigerians to thwart efforts of the present administration in addressing the damage done to the country’s economy by past regimes. Alhaji Mohammed Yahaya, a lecturer with Bauchi State College for Agriculture, views it as a global recession being experienced worldwide. On his part, Mr Habila Danket, an Economist, alleged that the problem was created by previous administrations in the country. Yahaya and Danket said that the recession had negatively impacted on their lives, forcing them to adjust their lifestyles to survive. Most respondents in Bauchi said they had resorted to patronising local products, a measure that reduced their spending by over 50 per cent. They suggested that the Federal Government should focus more on agriculture and solid minerals sectors since the global fall in the price of crude oil had worsened the Nigerian situation. Also, residents of the six states in the South South region of the country say the recession has forced them to change their life styles. They said the economic recession had reduced business activities nationwide. In separate interviews, the residents of Edo, Delta and Cross River said that the situation had made it impossible for them to earn more money and savings. They said that the recession had certainly altered their spending patterns, daily life styles and had destroyed some homes in the region. In Benin, Mr Chuks Aguonye, a civil servant, said the hardship was eating deep into his pocket and could hardly provide for his family. “ The situation more often than not causes disaffection between me and my wife, as quarrel is now a daily occurrence in my home over disagreement on demands from my wife and children. It is chasing away the peace and love that once pervaded the atmosphere of my home,” he said. Also in Asaba, Mr Henry Olotuche, a borehole driller, said that he relied mostly on civil servants’ patronage to earn a living, but that jobs were not forthcoming in the last 12 months. “When the job even comes, the profit margin is very small due to high cost of materials. “The same situation is applicable to my other colleagues and other tradesmen,” he said. Mrs Nneka Chijindu, a Head Teacher in Asaba, said she had to withdraw her children from their former private schools and send them to public schools that were less expensive. Miss Blessing Njoetene, a civil servant in Asaba, said that the economic hardship had made her family members to prioritise their needs to survive. Similarly, Mr Idiongesit Inyang, a Calabar-based Journalist, said: “I can no longer even maintain my only car, such that, I now trek to work”. “I now also find it hard to meet family obligations. My monthly salary can no longer carry me for a week. It is just as bad as that, ‘’ he said. A restaurant operator in Calabar, Mrs Nkoyo Gabriel, lamented that her food business was suffering, “I have been experiencing low patronage over these past months”. “As you can see, people are no longer coming to eat as before as they often complain of lack of money. “Can you imagine some of my old customers now beg to be served on credit,” Gabriel said. The residents said they had adopted new strategies to survive the recession. Mr Benedict Ogbeh, an undergraduate of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), said he could no longer afford to take transport from State Housing Estate to campus. “As an off-campus student, I trek to UNICAL every day from State Housing Estate, which is about six kilometres to the campus. “I have been doing this for a while as I cannot afford the increased transportation fare,” he said. However, Calabar residents have advised the Federal Government to inject the loot recovered from corrupt Nigerians into the economy to increase the volume of money in circulation.