…. Rampant Cases of Theft, Burglary Rock Ogun Communities
… I Now Spend N3,000 To Earn N4,000 — Motorcyclist
…. Receptionists, Bankers, Vulcanizer, Mechanic, Others Lament Low Patronage
… Teachers Now Sleep In Cars,Schools — ASUS Chair
… Contributions In Church Has Reduced — Pastor
… Fuel Price Surge Takes Toll On Farmers, Travelers, Drivers
Fawaz Adebisi, Israel Adeleke, Ameenah Gusanu, Peace Adedigba & Wisdom Silas
Residents of Ogun State have shared their untold hardship stories following the austerity orchestrated by the government over the removal of fuel subsidy .
The residents of the Gateway state were unanimous in their unpleasant experience since the federal government announced the removal of fuel subsidy which triggered the pump price from N210 to N580-N600.
The narrative was the same across the country as the masses were groaning due to the impacts of the fuel subsidy removal.
In Ogun State, traders, parents, students, teachers, civil servants, religious houses, recreational centres, media houses, commuters, motorists and motorcyclists among others are living a hellish life.
PLATFORM TIMES went round to compile the people’s opinions on how the austerity created by the government is biting them.
PLATFORM TIMES can authoritatively say that the ‘town is not smiling’ many people are groaning.
PLATFORM TIMES reports that the immediate-past government of Muhammadu Buhari had removed the subsidy prior to the inauguration of the administration of president Bola Tinubu who assumed office May 29,2023.
Tinubu had caused an uproar when he announced the removal of the subsidy shortly after he was sworn in as his first policy.
The announcement which was described as hasty and unnecessary helped the marketers to exploit the masses by immediately adjusting their pump price across the country jerking it from the official pump price of 185 naira ($0.40) to between 350 ($0.76) and 590 naira ($1.20).
PLATFORM TIMES observed that in Ogun State, the action by the federal government prompted increase in the prices of all the commodities
The fuel subsidy removal was done by the federal government, but, the failure of Ogun State government to roll out the palliatives for the people worsening the situation.
From traders in the bustling markets to hardworking parents striving to provide for their families, from eager students pursuing education to a myriad of individuals, each of these groups is facing a unique set of trials amidst this era of austerity.
As the cost of fuel continues to climb, its far-reaching consequences have touched every corner of society.
Daily routines, livelihoods, and dreams are being reevaluated in the face of this unprecedented change. The struggle is real, but, so too is the spirit of resilience, innovation, and solidarity that the people of Ogun are demonstrating.
Bamidele, a civil servant commuting from Ifo, Ogun state, to work in Ikeja, Lagos, shared how the increased cost of transportation has forced him to reduce his workdays.
Previously, he made the daily journey, despite its stress, but now with higher expenses, he could only manage to go to work three or even just twice a week.
In this special feature, PLATFORM TIMES delves into the personal stories, challenges, and creative adaptations of traders, parents, students, and the diverse ‘others’ who make up the fabric of this vibrant state.
….Abiodun Foot-drags On Palliatives As Ogun Residents Groan
The hope that the state governor, Dapo Abiodun would cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal through his planned Palliatives seems to be fading.
Abiodun had announced some packages for the people of the state to reduce the austerity as caused by subsidy removal by the federal government, but, as of the time of filing this report, substantial part of the package had yet to be rolled out.
In all the 14-point planned Palliatives, which include ; cash palliative of #10,000 for each Public Servant including Pensioners ; approval of hazard allowance for all Health and Medical Personnel in the State ; approval of peculiar allowance for Public Servants in the State and Payment of March and April, 2023 Leave Bonuses among others.
But, since last month when the news was broken, few of the civil servants were said to have collected the N10,000 while many others were yet to be implemented.
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that in his efforts to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal, which has led to the rising cost of transportation in the entire nation, Abiodun made a promise to provide electric-powered motorbikes for those who relied solely on this means of transport.
Abiodun said he has commenced the payment of N10,000 palliative to civil servants in the State, reports by civil servants in the state have shown.
A statement sent by his media aide claimed that civil servants expressed delight that the promised palliative fund had started hitting their accounts.
The governor said that this showed clearly that Governor Abiodun is very much concerned about the plight of the people, especially state workers, following the harsh economic climate occasioned by the withdrawal of subsidy on petrol.
“They expressed optimism that the state government would continue to prioritize their interests at this critical period.”
… I Now Spend N3,000 To Earn N4,000 — Motorcyclist
Yusuf, a bike-man, eloquently conveyed the challenges he faced everyday after the removal of fuel subsidy.
According to Yusuf, prior to the removal of fuel subsidy, l earned a comfortable income.But, with the recent surge in fuel costs, the earnings have plummeted.
He shared, “this issue of fuel subsidy is really affecting us. Previously, when fuel prices were lower, I used to spend around N800 to N1,000 on fuel, and with that amount, I could earn around N7,000 or sometimes even N8,000.”
“But, now, with the current higher fuel costs, I now spend about N3,000 or N2,500 on fuel daily, and my earnings have decreased to around #4,000, sometimes just about N5,000, I am left with N1,000, or N1,500 as profit for a whole day.”
Speaking on how he’s coping, he said he has no choice but to accept whatever amount passengers are willing to pay.
Corroborating this, Muheden Fadeyi, another bike man lamented how the increase in fuel prices had directly impacted his profits.
According to him, motorcyclists are working hard, but the financial gains are meager, making it difficult to support their families.
“About this fuel subsidy, it is affecting our work. Is like I should say we are just working for the fuel sellers, because, if we buy a fuel of N1,200 now, we will not make any gain, we will use it to make N800, because many people are not ready to take bike, they will say, they don’t have money, some will even be trekking, and in the process of we looking for passengers, the fuel reduces and these are things that make us to record shortage.
“When the price of the fuel was still friendly, that was when we bought fuel at N170, N190, we made N3,000, but now that the price is not friendly, if I buy N1,200 petrol, we don’t get any profit,” he said.
Many drivers also shared their experiences.One of them, Okanlawon Oshingbade, said they were not finding it easy.
He lamented the difficulty of sustaining his family amid such challenging circumstances, highlighting that even basic meals have become a challenge due to the high costs of living.
… Rampant Cases of Theft, Burglary Rock Ogun Communities
A strong indication has emerged that the austerity has shot up crimes rate in the state.
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that cases of theft, burglary, snatching of belonging are at alarming rate.
At the Magistrate Courts in Isabo Abeokuta south and Ipokia Local governments area of Ogun state, more cases of theft and burglary were being recorded.
PLATFORM TIMES sighted that some youths being arraigned for theft and burglary.
Among these cases was a particular incident that occurred on the evening of June 12, 2023, when Muraina Mustafa, Musa Faruq, and Yinusa Mohammed allegedly robbed one Aduke Adelani in her house in Abeokuta and carted away valuable goods amounting to a staggering N434,500.
In another unsettling occurrence, a provision seller in Ijofin, Ipokia Local Government, fell victim to a brazen act of vandalism, After leaving her shop to purchase goods from the market, she returned to find her shop broken into.
The miscreants responsible not only pilfered her wares but also ravaged her entire stock, including bags of rice, spaghetti, beans, groundnut oil.
The wave of criminality did not spare any corner of the community, as another incident unfolded on the same day.
In a shocking display of audacity, a machine (BAJAD) parked in front of a residence was stolen right from under the nose of the locals.
In a similar vein, a different neighborhood within the same local government area experienced its own harrowing encounter with criminal elements. A family, who had left their home to attend a vigil, returned to a heart-wrenching scene. The thieves had broken into their residence,went away with valuable belongings worth N30,000.
According to a Comrade from Ijofin, we now record daily theft in our community, no work and also hike in everything.
…Nigerians Going Through Tough Time-Abiodun’s Wife
Wife of the Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, says the recurrent increase in the price of petrol and the free fall of naira have put Nigerians on the edge.
She said Nigerians were going through a difficult time and this, according to her, is very scary.
Mrs Abiodun spoke during the 9th annual convention of the Women Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (WOWICAN), South West Zone, tagged “Abounding Grace.”
The convention which featured investiture of dignitaries, empowerment and award presentations took place at the Apostolic Church, Abeokuta Area Headquarters at Ijemo Agbadu, Abeokuta.
The governor’s wife, in her remarks said: “We are going through a period now in our country that is very very trying. It is very very scary.
” As one of the pastors has said, even to the wealthy, they are afraid how much more to the people that don’t have?
“We all know how much we were buying petrol three or four months ago, we all know how much petrol is today and we also know that it is not even steady yet, it may still be going up and we know the cost of fuel once it goes up, it affects every aspect of our life, the cost of food goes up, the cost of everything goes up.
“Not only petrol, look at our naira, free falling everyday, free falling at a rapid rate every day, these are really tough times, but let us hold on, hold on to our faith, hold on to God, He is the only one that can make the impossible possible, He is the one that in the face of adversity, when things are tough, things will not be tough for us, if we trust in Him”.
… Low In Patronage, Mechanic, Vulcanizer Lament
An automobile technician, Ramoni Mecho, shared how the fuel subsidy removal had significantly affected his business.
He said the development has made some car owners have abandoned their cars which has made them record declines in patronage and earnings.
He said, “don’t let me lie to you there is no work, people are not bringing cars to us. This fuel subsidy has damaged a lot of things, in fact, it is still damaging things.
“We all know that, It is when people drive car, that the car will have fault, then they will think of bringing it to mechanic, but now that petrol is not allowing car owners to use their cars, how do we expect them to bring a car that is not faulty.
“Although one to two are coming, it is not as it used to be before. This car, you see me working on, the owner said “if I’m done doing it, I should just leave it with me, why? It is because of this fuel Subsidy thing, in fact, there is no fuel in this car”.
A vulcanizer, Ahmed Adeogun, also detailed the challenging situation he’s facing.
The drastic reduction in car usage has resulted in fewer customers coming for tire-related services.
He said, “The day this fuel subsidy started, I knew we would have a problem. Look at me now, I have been sitting here since morning, nobody is coming to fix their tyres or even pump them.”
Ahmed’s situation reflects the interconnected nature of these challenges. The domino effect from reduced car usage reaches various segments of society, leading to economic difficulties for those in the service industry, like him.
Speaking to confirm this, a motorist, Omobola Ogunyemi, expressed the stark reality of rising fuel costs.
She shared her personal experience, saying, “This fuel thing has caused a lot of damages, just look at me now, I am just trekking from that junction to my house.”
The burden of fuel prices has led her to choose alternative modes of transportation, walking and occasionally taking a taxi.
Pious Mathewson, another motorist, described how the increased cost of fuel had affected his daily commute.
He said he’s being forced to park his car at home because of the hike in fuel.
He said, “I buy fuel for N1,000 and it will take me to work and bring me back, but now that things are not the same, I am forced to park my car at home.” The steep increase in fuel expenses has pushed many like Pious to rethink their transportation choices.
….Receptionists, Banker, Others Lament Low Patronage
Isiaka Abdullateef, a dedicated receptionist at a hotel in Housing,Abeokuta, has felt the impact of the fuel subsidy removal directly in his work. In the past.
He said that the hotel on average gets 17 rooms per day, but now, due to the poor economic activity, the hotel is struggling to get just 5 to 7 rooms daily. This drastic drop in sales has significantly affected the hotel’s business.
Soyede, a graduate of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, who is now working at a hotel, explained that out of 48 rooms available in the hotel, only 18 are occupied.
However, according to him, this is unlike before, when all the rooms were always booked, especially on weekends.
“On weekends, we used to have all rooms booked, but now, we have only 17 booked, even during the weekend, we are really experiencing low patronage.”
Mrs. Esther Abodunde, a banker, discussed the impact of fuel costs on her daily life.
Despite the demands of her job and the rising transportation expenses,she said that her salary hasn’t been adjusted.
She shared, “How I cope with this issue is that I’ve taken it upon myself to cover my morning transportation costs, but at the end of the workday, I seek assistance from my senior colleagues who drive car.”
… Teachers Now Sleep In Cars — ASUS Chair
Dr. Felix Agbesanwa, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) in the state, shared insights about the challenges faced by teachers in the wake of the fuel subsidy removal.
Many teachers in the state, he revealed, now find themselves sleeping in their cars or within school premises instead of going home.
According to him, the distance between their residences and workplaces, coupled with the exorbitant fuel prices, has led some to undertake exhausting treks, while others have transformed their vehicles into makeshift living quarters.
“Do you know that some teachers now sleep in their schools just to keep up with the system’s needs? Others trek long distances to reach their schools, while a few have turned their vehicles into makeshift living spaces, parking them on school grounds to avoid being sanctioned for lateness,” he said
In solving this, Dr. Agbesanwa proposed online teaching as a solution to mitigate the difficulties faced by educators and suggested the government provide palliative support to alleviate the impact of rising fuel prices.
For students like Temitope, the fuel subsidy removal has hit her in a profound manner. The ability to afford basic transportation to school has been severely hampered, leading to daily treks to and from school.
This not only taking a toll on Temitope’s physical well-being but also results in missed classes, impeding academic progress.
The impact reverberates beyond Temitope’s own life; the loss of her sister’s job underscores the ripple effects on the job market, a consequence of companies struggling with decreased profits.
In the same vein, a graduate, Maseed Adeyemi emphasized the compounding impact of the transportation price hike.
“The increased cost of traveling from Ilaro to Abeokuta, for example, has substantial financial implications for individuals and families,” he said.
According to him, this financial strain, coupled with the understanding that the transporters themselves are not to blame, highlights the complexity of the situation.
“It’s not just the immediate cost but the cascading effect it has on various aspects of life for ordinary citizens,” Adeyemi lamented.
… Contributions In Church Has Reduced — Cleric
Religious leaders in Ogun State have also felt the pinch of the fuel price hike.
A pastor, popularly known as Emorija lamented that contributions in the church have reduced, as tithes are also not as abundant.
“During offering period, some will stand and be looking, and those that are giving are not really giving much anymore,” he stressed.
The challenges have made him and many like him rely more heavily on their faith.
The impact reaches beyond the church services. “I can’t maintain myself anymore like before, and even my children are affected too,” Pastor Emorija shared. Basic food items like a bag of semolina, which used to last 6 days at N3400, now cost N4500, forcing them to ration their meals.
Pastor Joseph echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that people coming from far are not attending due to financial constraints.
“In the offering aspect, some people have reduced their giving, and some would not give at all,” he explained.
Traders, Farmers, Parents In Agony
The removal of the fuel subsidy also sent shockwaves through various sectors of society, leaving traders, farmers, and parents grappling with severe challenges.
Local traders, exemplified by individuals like Iya Alaje and Iya Ruka, have been hit hard as the cost of transporting goods soars, squeezing profit margins.
In response, they face resistance from customers struggling with the increased cost of living, leading to losses instead of expected profits.
The ripple effect extends to parents, who find themselves struggling to maintain their businesses while also dealing with the financial burden of the fuel price surge.
Mummy Revival, a small business owner, shared the difficulties she faces in her bakery business.
The increase in transportation costs have forced her to reduce the size of her baked goods to avoid raising prices, leading to a drop in sales, especially among students.
A parent, identified as Matron Doris also emphasized the broader economic impact. The rising costs have led people to seek home remedies, affecting hospital sales, and causing healthcare costs to rise, putting additional strain on family budgets.
The educational expenses for children are also under scrutiny, as parents anticipate increased school fees, making lessons a luxury for some.
The situation is equally challenging for residents of the state like comrade Opereket, who grapples with the exorbitant cost of fuel.
Skyrocketing transport fares have made commuting unbearable, leading to a reduction in travel and interactions.
Mrs. Akeem Maria, a farmer, is among those severely impacted by the removal of the fuel subsidy. The increased cost of chemicals used in farming has put a strain on her ability to engage in excessive farming.
While trying to provide for her family and pay labourers, she’s faced with the challenge of selling her produce at higher prices due to the rising costs.
According to her, this has resulted in fewer customers, as many struggle with the financial burden of these price hikes.
A traveler, Esther Adewunmi, wo used to visit her family regularly, now finds it almost impossible to continue her journeys.
Fortunately, she now relies on technology like WhatsApp video calls to stay connected with her loved ones, but the inability to travel freely has become a poignant symbol of the economic strain imposed by the fuel price increase.
Individuals in the state have therefore asked for the government quick decision to make palliative available for citizens to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy on fuel.
… Data on Fuel Subsidy in Nigeria
The fuel subsidy, which began in the 1970s, has been a topic of debate with critics arguing that it primarily benefits a small group of individuals while putting a significant strain on the country’s resources. The subsidy involved the government maintaining petroleum product prices below market rates through subsidies, insulating most residents from paying the actual price of petrol.
According to a report by PwC, the fuel subsidy became institutionalized in 1977, with the implementation of the Price Control Act, making it illegal for certain products, including petrol, to be sold above the regulated price. However, this system has been plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, undermining its intended benefits.
President Tinubu justified the decision to end the fuel subsidy by highlighting its role in preventing fraud and addressing the fiscal challenges faced by the country. He noted that Nigeria, despite its oil riches, was unable to refine crude oil locally to meet the demand, relying on imports of refined petroleum products sold at government-fixed prices. This has resulted in a significant drain on the national budget, with fuel subsidies accounting for a considerable portion.
The move to end the fuel subsidy is expected to have a substantial impact on Nigeria’s finances. The government has already allocated a substantial amount, $7 billion, to subsidize fuel for the first six months of the year, a figure that constitutes 15% of the budget. This amount surpasses the combined allocations for critical sectors such as education and health, indicating the financial burden that the subsidy has placed on the country.
This decision comes at a crucial time when Nigeria is facing dwindling revenue, and the move to unify its multiple exchange rates further underscores the government’s commitment to implementing reforms that will streamline the economy and ensure more efficient allocation of resources. While the discontinuation of the fuel subsidy may face initial challenges, it represents a significant step toward addressing fiscal imbalances and enhancing transparency in the country’s petroleum sector.
… Nigerian Naira Faces Steep Devaluation Amid Economic Challenges
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, is grappling with significant economic challenges as its currency, the Naira, experiences a sharp devaluation, causing concerns among both domestic and international observers. The move is part of the country’s efforts to transition towards a unified exchange-rate system, with the Central Bank of Nigeria implementing the change to the more flexible Nafex (investors and exporters exchange rate).
The Nigerian Naira has faced a staggering loss of 94.87% over the past five years, according to Bismarck Rewane, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited.
The recent devaluation of the Naira by 7.6% against the dollar represents a significant step in the transition towards the new exchange-rate framework. The previous fixed rate of 379 naira to a dollar, used for official transactions, has been replaced by the Nafex rate, which has averaged 410.25 naira per dollar this year.
The introduction of the multiple exchange-rate regime in Nigeria aimed to avoid a direct devaluation of the Naira, but this system faced criticism from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Nafex was originally introduced in 2017 to enhance dollar liquidity and attract foreign investor inflows, especially after the country’s economic crisis in 2016 led to a significant outflow of investors.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated Nigeria’s economic challenges, leading to a plunge in oil prices, which, although contributing to less than 10% of the country’s GDP, accounts for nearly all foreign-exchange earnings and half of government revenue.
Last year, the acute shortage of hard currency compelled the country to devalue the Naira twice, highlighting the vulnerabilities that Nigeria faces due to its dependence on oil revenues.
As the country navigates these economic headwinds and works to improve its exchange-rate framework, it will be essential to ensure that these measures support sustainable economic growth, attract investment, and address the concerns raised by international financial institutions, such as the IMF.
The future path of the Naira’s value will be closely monitored as Nigeria seeks to stabilize its economy in the face of ongoing challenges.
…Alarming Poverty Levels in Nigeria
A recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has shed light on the staggering poverty rates in Nigeria, highlighting a significant disparity between rural and urban areas, as well as striking regional differences.
The report reveals that an alarming 40 percent of Nigeria’s population, representing a staggering 82.9 million people, live below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year, an amount that translates to living on less than $1 a day.
This paints a grim picture of the challenges faced by a substantial portion of the Nigerian population.
One of the most concerning findings of the report is the sharp contrast between rural and urban areas. The statistics show that 52 percent of people in rural regions of the country are living in poverty, whereas the rate in urban parts is comparatively lower, standing at 18 percent.
This disparity underscores the complexities of poverty in Nigeria, with rural communities facing more significant economic hardships compared to their urban counterparts.
The report also highlights the regional variations in poverty levels across Nigeria. The northwest state of Sokoto emerges as the region with the highest poverty levels, where a staggering 87.7 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
In stark contrast, Lagos state, the country’s bustling commercial hub, exhibits the lowest poverty rate at 4.5 percent. This stark difference between Sokoto and Lagos serves as a striking example of the inequalities that exist within the nation.
The findings from this report are a wakeup call for Nigeria’s government and policymakers, urging them to take bold and comprehensive measures to address this pressing issue.
The high prevalence of poverty not only poses significant social challenges but also impacts the nation’s long-term economic growth and stability.
It is imperative that efforts to alleviate poverty encompass targeted policies for rural development, job creation, and equitable access to education and healthcare.
As Nigeria strives to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and combat regional disparities in poverty, addressing these challenges will require a multifaceted approach, strong leadership, and collaborative efforts from various sectors of society.
Only through concerted action can Nigeria hope to uplift millions of its citizens from the clutches of poverty and pave the way for a more prosperous and equitable future.
… Nigeria Faces Severe Hunger Crisis
A dire situation looms over Nigeria as the risk of hunger threatens to engulf nearly 25 million Nigerians between June and August 2023, according to a press release by UNICEF.
This alarming projection marks a significant increase from the estimated 17 million people already at risk of food insecurity.
The convergence of multiple factors, including continued conflict, climate change, inflation, and rising food prices, has contributed to this deeply concerning trend.
One of the primary drivers of this crisis has been persistent violence in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, as well as armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger.
These security challenges have severely impacted food access, leaving communities vulnerable to hunger.
Climate change has also taken a toll on food security in Nigeria. The 2022 rainy season brought widespread flooding, damaging more than 676,000 hectares of farmlands, leading to diminished harvests and increasing the risk of food insecurity for families across the country.
This flooding is just one of the many effects of climate change and variability that are affecting Nigeria, with the anticipation of more extreme weather patterns that will further impact food security in the future.
Among the 17 million people currently facing food insecurity, approximately 3 million are located in the northeast BAY states, and this number is expected to increase to 4.4 million during the lean season.
This includes displaced populations and returnees who are already grappling with a large-scale humanitarian crisis, where 8.3 million people are in need of assistance.
Children, particularly those under 5 years old, are the most vulnerable in this dire situation. Approximately 6 out of the 17 million food-insecure Nigerians are children living in several states, including Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Zamfara.
There is a serious risk of child mortality due to acute malnutrition, with the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition expected to increase significantly in the BAY states alone.
In response to this crisis, UNICEF is collaborating with the government and partners such as MSF and ALIMA to scale up preventive nutrition interventions and ensure vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition services.
In 2022, UNICEF, along with its partners, reached approximately 650,000 children with these crucial nutrition services in the affected states.
The northwest region, encompassing states like Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto, is emerging as a critical food insecurity and malnutrition hotspot.
An estimated 2.9 million people in this region are currently facing acute food insecurity, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this crisis through comprehensive efforts that reach the most vulnerable populations. Immediate action is crucial to prevent a deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Nigeria.
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