Market men and women across the country have blamed the bad economic condition on the present administration, saying it was never as bad as this before the arrival of Buhari’s government.
It is only a few months that Nigeria has entered into a period of economic recession and market men and women have expressed disappointment in the present Buhari-led administration, saying Buhari’s government’s policy has always adopted punitive measures, which they said is devoid of any economic sense to the masses.
As a result, Legit.ng gathered that men and women in the market places now call the president names of all sorts and attribute to his government, titles never called a Nigerian President before.
With markets becoming scanty and traders wailing about their uncertainty about the regulating agent of goods prices in the market, it was gathered that traders who cannot weather the current storm have left their businesses.
“The kind of change we needed before is not what we are having now, we needed a change that will serve the best interest of the masses, not the blood thirst change that Buhari has brought,” remarked a trader, Tunji Ajani at Oja tuntun market in Ilorin, Kwara state capital.
At Mandate ultra-modern market, Adewole in Ilorin, the story is not different as Legit.ng spoke with traders of different goods, many of whom remarked that the present administration has brought what they termed ‘untold hardship’ to the people of Nigeria. The traders therefore appealed to Mr. President to employ technocratic hands who are experts in turning the wheels of such depressed economy as ours in Nigeria.
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A meat seller, popularly known as JJC in the market lamented the ridiculous rate at which cow prices now increases in the market, which tells greatly on the meat selling business.
He said: “Our work entails buying cow and selling the cow meat after butchering it and since we’ve started buying cows at high prices, it has really affected our sales negatively. Buying a cow at N150,000 or N200,000 which used to be N70,000 or N80,000 depending on the size, is an evidence that this country is really sick and we the citizens are the ones bearing the brunt.
"We cannot eat as a result, we are only working in vein, no customer wants to buy exorbitant market because they don’t have money to buy it; we cannot pay children’s school fees and some of them have even stopped going to school.”
JJC attributed the unpleasant condition of meat sellers to the non-payment of workers’ salaries in the country.
“One of the major problems is workers are not getting salaries and if that happens, it tells on our sales majorly, so we implore the government to consider the masses because we are crying, children are weeping.”
Another meat seller, Alake Eleran who also lamented the disheartening condition noted that this is no doubt the first time Nigeria will experience such situation as this. She identified a few of what she has experienced as a result of the current economic crunch.
“We can’t sell anymore because it is too expensive, we are in debt because a person like me takes the cow meat on credit and once I don’t sell, I just have to find a means to pay for the meat because the suppliers wouldn’t take the meat back, so we are languishing seriously and this seems like we’ve never had a time like this before in this country.
"A N14000 lap of cow has turned into N50,000, where are we going in this country we don’t know, in fact, some women have now resorted to begging for alms with their baby on their back since they don’t have something to eat, the whole place is just full of things we've never seen before, government should please have mercy on us because we know this would not affect their family but well it tells on the masses, so the government should please have mercy.
"Just few months ago, three children of a family died of sleeping pills given to them by their mother and it is because they did not have anything to eat according to the mother, that was why she decided to give them sleeping pills in order to stop them from crying not knowing it could kill them because they didn’t eat before taking the pills. This has never happened in this country, so government should sit and think.”
A palm oil and vegetable oil trader, known as Iya Alake Elepo made a comparison between the previous government and the present Buhari-led administration while also pointing out that the ban on goods is a contributing factor.
“Before the arrival of Buhari, we used to sell five litres of palm oil for instance, N1200 but this time around, the prices of everything we sell has increased because this same five litres of palm oil goes for not less than N2600 which means things were easy before but now, things are really expensive and also, 25 litres jerry-can of vegetable oil used to be N7000 but it now sells between N14500 and N15000 and the major reason is because of the embargo laid on imported goods and as a result, those who had goods on ground before the embargo started inflating their prices. In fact, customers are not even ready to buy any of what we sell because ever since Buhari came, market becomes scanty as people don’t even have the money to buy.”
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The situation with Taiye Abdulkareem, who is also a palm oil and vegetable oil wholesaler is not an exemption.
“N1100 could buy a keg of palm oil before this economic holocaust but as I speak to you now it sells even beyond N2600 and that is why we are wailing because our sales have also dropped and people refuse to buy what we sell and our family must eat, so what do we do?” she queried.
She also identified the trend in their business when she said: “What particularly happens every now and then is the fluctuation in prices of our goods; you could have a bad week in the previous one and the next week, you'll discover that what obtained last week was only the beginning of the worst week that lies ahead, it just becomes worst by the day and customers patronage has been affected to a large extent.
"We are suffering and it’s becoming unbearable; our children have nothing to eat anymore because the price inflation has made it difficult to dear touch even the little gain on the goods because we don’t know what might happen in the next minute. We pray that God will direct the government on a right path where our interest would be better served, we are dying, government please o!”
Alade Rukayat, a wholesaler of food ingredients and grains who compared the Nigeria of today with that of the previous government, lamented the dwindling patronage of her goods.
“Prior to this Buhari’s regime, we sold one bag of rice at N7500 or N8000 but big grain bag of rice is now N20,000 which has kept customers groaning seriously, in fact, they are not ready to buy since there is no money in the economy. (Federal) Government needs to pump money into the economy at this material time, where are the recovered loots?”
Angry Rukayat explained: “Many of the customers usually accuse us of inflating the prices whereas it is what we buy that we sell, so the gain we make in effect has been influenced and this usually causes rift between parents at home who have to feed their family. This is not the kind of change we want, we know it is done already but the confused government should have mercy on all of us.”
But Iya Afin Abosede Dada who is also a dealer in rice and food ingredients noted that the federal government is not really to blame in this situation but an adjustment would yet suffice.
“They said Nigeria is not the only country experiencing this economic depression but this has gone beyond inflation, it is considered hyper-inflation because the measure of what bought tens of what we buy and sell before now, is what now hardly buys two of the same measured item, this is very bad.
"Green beans for example used to sell between N280 and N250 but now it is N350 and the carton we sold at N5200 now sells for N7500 and really, there is unexplainable influence of this on every facet of our lives and that of our family and even beyond.
"It is only funny that customers of these goods are left with no options because somebody who wants to organise a function for example, will just have to buy it at all costs, the only thing is just that the quantity they now buy as a result of this depression, has fallen drastically.
"We might not want to really blame this on the government but the government still has the major role to play in all this because when (President) Jonathan was there it was not like this, so we need adjustment from the government.”
A frozen foods retailer, simply identified as Abeeb, who indicated a contributing factor to the miserable condition as the ban on importation by federal government, said the high exchange rate of the dollar is another factor to consider. He spoke to Legit.ng on behalf of frozen foods retailers in the market.
“We sold N14000 fishes per carton before Buhari came on board but due to the high exchange rate of the dollar, it now sells for not less than N16000 or N17000 and the sales have dropped compared to what we used to have before now.
"As a matter of fact, the way we live as a result of the reduction in sales, has been greatly influenced because somebody who was able to spend N100 will hardly spend N50 this time around, so people do not really turn up anymore; a person buying a kilogram before has started buying a half now and essentially, ever since they stopped importation of goods like turkey, we don’t have it in stock again, we only sell the ones that we see around, so the only thing we can tell the government is that they should find solution to this economic crisis so that this present hardship would turn wheel.
"For instance, the ban on importation, we expect should have an internal substitute so that we would at least have something to fall back on since they’ve stopped importation, and I think that also contributes majorly to the upward direction that prices are currently spanning,''
However, Aminu Adamu, a wholesaler of tomatoes, pepper and onions told Legit.ng a different story entirely.
He said: “Before Buhari came around, a basket of tomatoes goes for N4500 but new ones have arrived the markets and we now sell from N1000 and beyond which means a drop of more coins in my pocket as well as increased sales and customers are also happy with the fall in prices of our market.”
Also, a perishable goods dealer, Alhaji Abubakar Suleiman said the federal government is not a regulating force of the perishable goods in the market and therefore only has a little to do with whatever happens to the perishable goods market.
“Prices of perishable goods is usually unstable, so it cannot be compared to the trend in other goods, the prices of pepper and tomatoes for instance, is usually regulated by the demand for the goods so once the demand falls, prices will automatically fall, therefore it does not really have anything to do with the government, the only thing that could call for the government is the transportation of the goods from one destination to the other, owing to the rise in prices of petroleum products and this definitely has adverse effect on our sales.
"Specifically, this will also tell on the way our families at home are living because no matter how comfortable one could be with their business at this harsh economic whether, there would still be an effect on the living to some extent.”
He offered suggestions for the government, on measures that need to be engaged in order to get out of this situation.
“My advice to the government is for them to give order so that the closed borders could be opened again and I think that would go a long way to ameliorate the suffering of the masses because that is the only dividends enjoyed by the common man,” he said.
But to Abdulkareem Adisa, also a perishable goods seller, Buhari’s administration is nevertheless worst than that of the previous one considering the havoc wrecked on the economy already and he stressed the need for the government to urgently swing into palliative action.
“Essentially, we sell pepper by sack but the thing is, prices are not stable but notwithstanding, there is a big difference between the former President Jonathan’s regime and that of Buhari because sales have reduced outrageously and feeding has become warfare of the fittest all over the places, so the government does not seem to have done anything since Buhari’s arrival as the President, so they need to make heavy adjustment as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Why businesses crashed
A manager of a large scale retailer of semovita, provisions, noodles etals, Olumide Shittu revealed to Legit.ng the reason some businesses have crashed due to the current economic crisis.
He said: “A sack of semovita used to sell at N1500 during the previous government but now it goes for N2700 and beyond, prices just kept going up since this present Buhari’s government came to power and both our capital and sales are affected as a result, even being able to eat is not an easy thing this time around, we only survive now by God’s grace.
"My personal advice to Mr. President is he should surround himself with technocrats that are experts in economic strategies because this was not the kind of change we wanted before Buhari came on board, so there is no food to eat nor money to do business, which has made a lot of businesses to go under.”
The perpetual exit of traders from their respective businesses poses great threat to the sensibility and security of the masses as one wonders what becomes the substitute for these desperate men and women who might be ready to even pull the tiger’s tale for a living.