Small business owners along Eko Akete’s new road in the Amuwo Odofin community complain about high prices for food and fuel amid fear of shutting down.
Mrs. Ofonibengha Sandra transitioned into the food business in September 2020 due to poor remuneration from her teaching job.
Mrs. Sandra, who has 11 years of experience in the teaching profession, took up the job with the conviction that it would put an end to the uncertainty and fear of paying bills.
The mother of three wakes up at 5:30 a.m. daily in order to get her kids ready for school while she multitasks to prepare 60 cups of rice to sell to customers at a roadside kiosk in the community, she said.
Mrs. Sandra bemoaned prices for food in the country and claimed she has a buy-now, pay-later agreement in which she pays her creditors after the close of business due to financial constraints.
“I have a good relationship with sellers in the market, so they allow me to pay for food items at the close of business because I don’t have enough capital,” the 34-year-old said.
Sandra is afraid to increase the prices of the food she sells because she believes this will deter customers from coming back. Hence, she decided to reduce the quantity of food she serves.
Customers are unhappy because I have now reduced the quantity of food I serve, but it is the least I can do to stay in business, she said.
In her words, “It cost me N12,000 to cook a pot of stew yesterday, yet today it cost me N12,300.” Prices increase consistently, and I don’t expect the situation to change because when the price goes up, it never comes down. “
A few months ago, I bought a bag of rice for N24,000, but the bag of rice now costs N29,000. A liter of groundnut oil used to be N1,200; I now buy it for N1,800. The cost of gas scares me. I used to pay N2,500 to refill 6kg of gas, but now it costs N4,600 to refill, which is about double the old price, “she told Amuwo News.
According to sources, Nigeria’s yearly inflation increased to 15.7% in February 2022 from 15.6% in the previous month, as fuel scarcity has increased the cost of transportation by 15.1%, which affects the prices of food and other commodities. Nigeria has suffered from fuel scarcity since February 2022 due to the importation of substandard fuel.
Price regulation in Nigeria
According to research, the price control law still exists, which restricts anybody from buying or selling a commodity at a price that is higher than the government-set controlled price.
The Price Control Act was enacted in 1977, and it was thoroughly implemented and enforced throughout President Buhari’s military government.
According to the Price Control Degree of 1977, the government has the authority to fix the price of specified commodities through the Price Control Board.
Textiles and clothing Cement, roofing sheets, beer and stout, soft drinks, sugar, tires and inner tubes, Flour, matches, bicycles and spare parts, Salt, tinned meat, tinned fish, kerosene, petrol, diesel oil, fuel oil, motor vehicles and spare parts, Tobaeco, pharmaceuticals, educational materials, electronics, motor cycles and spare parts are among the commodities.
According to Section 6 Subsection 1 of the act, it shall be unlawful for any person to sell, agree to sell, offer to sell, or engage any other person, whether or not that other person is of full age, to sell any regulated commodity at a price that exceeds the controlled price.
This act gained popularity in the late 1970s and was widely implemented throughout General Buhari’s presidency (when he was the military ruler).
In Nigeria, the sellers of products and services control the key to our lives; they direct practically all of our activities since food items determine a householder’s ability to take responsibility.
Men who are the breadwinners of their families are burdened by this huge mental weight.
The way things are skyrocketing in our markets on a daily basis causes increasing anxiety among ordinary Nigerians, which is why the argument over when and how this trend can be halted has allowed public perceptions to continue to spread across the country.
Using the pricing template, however, the Price Control Act can be utilized to regulate the price at which fuel is sold.
As sarcastic as the preceding may appear, such recommendations may lead to an expansion into other areas of the economy where the government seeks to promote local participation.
Despite these concerns, Nigeria has progressed and is now accustomed to a more market-based economy in which people are free to set prices for goods and services.
Price controls, understandably, still exist in some parts of the economy, and the law still exists.
Apart from petroleum items (which are essentially just fuel), firms are allowed to set their own prices for any of the things listed above.
“We increase prices to stabilise our business”
The uncertainty in the country is worrisome to Mr. Jonas Udeh, a trader, who struggled to explain how he is battling with his business due to the persistent increase in the price of foods and other commodities.
“Prices are not predictable because every day has a price. For this reason, I increase prices often.” He told Amuwo News.
While interviewing him, a customer walked in to ask for a loan of N1,500. Mr. Jonas said afterward, “This is what I deal with every day. Customers buy goods and pay when they can afford to. This says a lot about the state of the nation. Although this is not good for my business, we pray and hope for better days because I can’t continue this way.” the 52-year-old said.
Mr. Jonas Udeh is married with three kids. He works from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and claimed he only makes enough money to get by with the fear of what the future holds for his business, as it is the only source of income he had.
He does not want to shut down his business like some of his peers and return to Enugu, where he hails from. He is hopeful the current state of affairs will improve soon.
How hike in petrol prices cause increase in unemployment
Mr. Olawale Ayorinde explained how he laid off some employees because he could not afford to pay their salaries due to the current economic crisis in the country, which bites harder on small business owners.
Mr. Olawale, who has been running the dry-cleaning business with his wife for the past 16 years, said they only call on a few former employees when the need arises and they get paid for the day’s job instead of holding them back and paying them monthly, which they don’t have the resources and capacity to do so at the moment.
Before the pandemic and the current state of the economy, Mr. Olawale Ayorinde claimed business was so good that he could afford to sponsor his siblings abroad, but he can barely take care of himself and his family at the moment. “Feeding has become a luxury because food is expensive.”
Mr. Wale also said, “We used to spend N1,500 on diesel for 6 hours, but now we spend N6,000 on diesel for 6 hours. The point is that having more clothes to dry-clean is favorable, but the clothes are not coming as often as they used to because our customers are facing similar challenges. We are normally busy by this time of the day, but we are idle because there is no work to do. “