Protests spread as cost of living worsens under Tinubu

Nigerians in Kano and Niger states have protested the worsening cost of living, saying that the economy is slipping through President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s hands.

They say that President Tinubu’s much-touted “Lagos magic” is failing to rejig the Nigerian economy.

Roads were blocked on February 5, 2024, as residents of Minna, Niger State capital, protested the high cost of living in the country, chanting angry songs while police officers and other security personnel watched.

One of the protesters, Mr Abubakar Ciroma, told Economy Post on the phone that “he is disappointed with the way President Tinubu has managed the economy,” stressing that he was struggling to feed his 8 children.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Shettima fails to lead military against criminals as promised during 2023 campaign

Another protester, Mr Danladi Umar, noted that he voted for Mr Tinubu on the understanding that he would bring his Lagos formula to Nigeria but was regretting that cost of living was getting worse.

“We are yet to see the so-called Lagos magic or miracle,” he said. “Right now, we can’t buy fuel because President Tinubu increased fuel price. A family loaf of bread has risen from N700 to N1,300, and the prices of food and everything else are going up every week. We are dying and we don’ t know what will happen in the next four years,” he said.

Similarly, there were protests on February 6, 2024 in Kano over high food prices and cost of living, with the police saying they used “minimum force” to disperse protesters.

Three days earlier, bakers, popularly known as ‘Gurasa’ in Hausa, had staged a protest against the rising price of flour in Kano State.

READ ALSO: Ibadan blast, widespread kidnapping show no part of Nigeria is secure under Tinubu

Speaking to journalists during the protest, Chairperson of the Kano State Gurasa Bakers Association, Ms Fatima Auwal, said they were protesting the rise of the price of a 50kg of flour from N16,000 to N43,000 from May 2023 to February 2024.

The Punch quoted her as saying that “more than half of the bakers have been sent out of business as a result of soaring prices of flour.”

Individuals are also protesting on social media over the rising cost of living, blaming it on President Tinubu’s economic policies.

Economy: Buhari vs Tinubu

The Nigerian economy has taken more hits since Mr Tinubu became president on May 29, 2023.

Headline inflation has risen from 22.79 percent in June 2023 to 28.92 percent in December 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Food Inflation stood at 33.93 percent in December 2023 as against 25.09 percent reported in June 2023 – one month into Mr Tinubu’s presidency.

Total public debt has risen from N87.38 trillion in June 2023 to over N106 trillion as at February 2024.

Foreign exchange crisis has worsened under Tinubu, with the naira getting increasingly weaker. The naira exchanges at over N1,300/$ at both official and parallel markets – from less than N800/$ at both markets when Mr Tinubu became president on May 29, 2023.

READ ALSO: For shutting down economy 4 times in January 2024, South-East Nigeria loses N355bn

A litre of fuel was averagely less than N250 per litre across 36 states of the country, but Mr Tinubu’s partial subsidy removal has shot it up to N620-N700 per litre.

Families eat once or twice

Economy Post gathered that several families do not have three square meals in 24 hours again. They eat either once or twice and wait for the next day.

An Abuja-based civil servant, Ms Ronke Ajibola, said her salary and that of her husband were less than N250,000 when put together, saying that they were struggling to feed three times a day now.

“My husband, three children and I eat twice – and sometimes once – in a day. School fees have risen, cost of transportation to work has shot up, and food prices are increasing weekly,” she said.

“As a family, my husband and I earn less than N250,000 and that can’t go so far today due to high cost of living,” she said.

A Lagos-based fashion designer, Mr Oluwaseyi Abioye, said he had been unable to take care of his needs and those of his family due to inflation, weakening naira and skyrocketing cost of living.

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“Drug prices have risen by over 100 percent in the last 6 months. When my children go to the hospital, charges are so high, sometimes 50 percent higher than what I used to pay last year. Due these, we hardly eat three times now but twice or once,” he said, stressing that patronage for his business had declined significantly due to the low purchasing power of his customers.

Tinubu must act fast Economists

Economists are shocked that Mr Tinubu has been unable to manage the consequences of subsidy removal and market float exchange rate system, stressing that this had led to unimaginable consequences.

Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company, Mr Bismark Rewane, said on Channels TV programme on February 5, 2024, that given the deteriorating state of the Nigerian economy, the government must first engage professionals to help in reinvigorating the economy.

“This is not the time for rookies. We need people who are capable of proffering solutions to these challenges, not rookies,” he said.

Mr Rewane said the first step was to recognise that there was a problem that could not be solved overnight and then assemble mature experts who would proffer solutions to the challenges.

An economist, Dr Stella Oniah, pointed out that Tinubu underestimated the consequences of his policies on the people, advocating that he must now focus on reducing inflation and insecurity, while putting money in people’s hands.

“The current situation is dire and urgent. President Tinubu must now ensure that farmers can farm and their produce must be moved to the markets without restriction. Food inflation needs to fall significantly because food and energy are two items where the majority of Nigerians spend most of their incomes.

“Secondly, he must also begin to tackle insecurity headlong to retain and attract investors who will create jobs and bring in foreign exchange. He must also seek ways of putting money in people’s hands.”

She stressed the need for President Buhari and state governors to be accountable in the use of palliatives, saying that she knew nobody who had benefitted from the palliatives.

READ ALSO: Kalu Aja to Tinubu: Give families cash to spend, waive taxes, import food

A financial analyst, Mr Kalu Aja, told Economy Post that Mr Tinubu must put more cash in people’s hands to reduce the suffering in the land.

“The government now needs to waive the value added tax (VAT), waive the income tax, and waive all fees,” he said.

“If possible, waive payment of school fees in primary schools at federal and state levels. Pay for the states, if possible. Take away as much cash that should go to the Federal Government and give it to families. Then, recover the deficit from increases in prices from the subsidy. The biggest palliative is going to be reduction in inflation, and the government has not done that,” he added.

Yakubu Ibrahim
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