By Mercy Igbekele


Burdened by financial strain, Popoluwa Adebisi hesitated to make a purchase despite standing before Mrs. Ademola’s pepper stall at Ibaka market in Akungba-Akoko on a Monday afternoon. 

Her heart, heavy with longing for the flavorful spice, wrestled with the decision, knowing that each expenditure carried weight amidst her financial challenges.

The elusive peppers heightened her disappointment and helplessness, casting a shadow over her troubled day.

Mrs. Ademola, the seller, elaborated on her challenges, citing the escalating prices of pepper.

She explained, “Purchasing a batch for over Fifty Thousand Naira (#50,000) from the Ikare general market is not something to write home about,” attributing the surge to various factors like market tours and transportation expenses.

Mrs. Ademola, while faulting the government for the escalating commodity prices, appealed to the Federal Government to devise a lasting solution, as goods and commodities fluctuate in price almost every month.


Nigeria’s Inflation Peaks in December 2023: NBS Highlights Food Price Surge

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that Nigeria’s annual inflation rate surged to 28.92 percent in December 2023 from 28.20 percent in November.

The December 2023 headline inflation rate witnessed a 0.72 percentage point increase compared to November 2023.

On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate in December 2023 was 7.58 percentage points higher than that recorded in December 2022, which stood at 21.34 percent.

The NBS noted that this indicates a significant rise in the headline inflation rate in December 2023 compared to the same month in the previous year, December 2022.

According to the same report, the food inflation rate in December 2023 reached 33.93 percent on a year-on-year basis, marking a 10.18 percentage point increase compared to December 2022 (23.75 percent).

The NBS attributed the surge in food inflation to price hikes in various items including bread and cereals, oil and fat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, meat, fruit, milk, cheese, and eggs.

“On a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in December 2023 stood at 2.72 percent, indicating a 0.30 percent increase compared to November 2023 (2.42 percent),” the report stated.

This ongoing inflationary pressures have undeniably had a significant impact on both traders and residents alike. 

As prices continue to rise across various sectors of the economy, traders find themselves grappling with increased costs of goods and services, cutting into their profit margins and making it challenging to sustain their businesses.


Impact of Inflation on Small Traders and Market Dynamics 

Mrs. Owoseni Oluwafunmilayo Abidemi, a trader at the Ibaka market in Akungba-Akoko, expressed her distress over the daily price hikes of their goods by ₦1000, ₦2000, respectively. 

This trend, she lamented, takes a toll on their mental well-being as they strive to navigate the challenging circumstances.

“We have families, our children need to eat, and we shouldn’t deprive them of their fundamental human rights, particularly the right to education for acquiring basic knowledge,” she emphasized. Addressing this economic hardship requires effective leadership and accountability, she suggested. She advocated for laws to prevent arbitrary price increases, applicable to all, irrespective of social status, to foster a regulated society.

Mr. Wasiu Abdulsalam, a meat seller in the bustling Akungba market, criticized the greed among some market women who maintain the new price even for old stock. He attributed the soaring meat prices, despite being locally sourced, to insecurity in Northern Nigeria and transportation challenges, exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy during President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s tenure.

“Things are undeniably expensive,” Wasiu acknowledged, questioning why the burden of inflation is unfairly shifted to consumers, particularly students.

Mr. Sanmi Agbomoniyi, a fruit vendor at Ibaka market, echoed similar sentiments, attributing the price disparities between Ikare and Akungba markets to the greed of some traders. He highlighted how the hike in inflation rate has led to extortion from students and community members, exacerbating the situation.

“We are our own worst enemies,” Sanmi lamented, emphasizing the need for collective citizen action to drive change in Nigeria.


Students Face Challenges in the Face of Rising Prices

In an interview with The Harbinger, students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, voiced their dismay over the escalating inflation rate, describing it as another devastating blow to the welfare of Nigerian students, impacting their daily lives.

Adesanya Fisayo, a 100-level student of Economics, expressed dissatisfaction with the price inflation, stating, “The inflation rate is affecting my allowance because the money given to me is not enough to meet my needs anymore, and it’s not increasing.” 

Despite managing to survive, she urged the federal and state governments to create more opportunities for students to earn a living while on campus.

Similarly, Temilade Adeyeluwa, a 100-level student of Performing Arts, shared her dissatisfaction with the high economic inflation plaguing the country. 

She emphasised the stagnant nature of her parents’ salary amid soaring inflation, which has dwindled her monthly allowance while the prices of goods continue to rise. Temilade advocated for student empowerment through entrepreneurship as a means of survival.

Oluwarotimi Oluwatomisin, a 400-level student of Animal Science, lamented the irregularity of his stipends, which has significantly impacted his purchasing power. He highlighted the drastic increase in the price of sachet water, adversely affecting students with limited income sources. 

Oluwarotimi stressed the importance of students acquiring skills to generate income rather than remaining idle.

Furthermore, Khodijah Idris, a 300-level Economics student, expressed her frustration with sellers deliberately increasing prices for selfish gains. 

She emphasised how price hikes force consumers to spend more on essential commodities, exacerbating their financial burden. 

Khodijah urged the government to intervene by providing incentives, regulating prices, and enlightening individuals on the implications of price manipulation on the economy.

These students collectively underscored the urgent need for government intervention to alleviate the economic hardships faced by Nigerian students and citizens alike.


The Path Forward: Addressing Nigeria’s Inflationary Pressures- Expert 

According to Prof. Bayo Fatukasi, an economic expert and lecturer at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, inflation is impacting not only students but also everyone, including their parents.

He described the current situation in Nigeria as one of galloping inflation, where what costs N10 today could cost N30 tomorrow.

Prof. Bayo emphasised that inflation affects both parents directly and indirectly, with some students unable to pay their school fees as a result.

He explained that Nigeria’s economy is already in a comatose state, cautioning against expecting immediate results akin to planting cassava and harvesting it on the same day.

“We are not producing anything in Nigeria and we have to,” he stressed, advocating for the production, rather than importation, of everyday items like matches and toothpicks.

To combat unemployment, Prof. Bayo called for government intervention to engage people, encourage industrialization, and establish functional factories.

He expressed optimism that if President Ahmed Tinubu’s policies are implemented effectively, positive changes could be seen within the next six to nine months.

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