There’s a common saying that “tough times don’t last.” Nigerians from all walks of life will hope this saying manifests quickly, and why wouldn’t they? The new administration, led by President Tinubu, heralded its dispensation by removing the fuel subsidy

The effect has been a marked increase in fuel costs, which has had ripple effects on the cost of living. On Thursday, June 15, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that inflation in May rose to 22.41%. The subsidy removal and the subsequent announcement of a unified exchange rate have led experts to suggest that inflation will rise even higher in June.

To gauge the current adaptation of Nigerians to the prevailing circumstances,  Citizen interviewed some of them for this week’s episode of Navigating Nigeria. Here are their thoughts: 

Ola, Analyst at a VC firm

I’m a naturally frugal person who works on a budget. Because I follow the news, I saw the fuel subsidy removal coming, and I understood its implications. I got a solar inverter in May, which powers electronics like my TV, refrigerator, and laptop. I charge the inverter with PHCN’s power supply and switch to it when the power goes off. I did this because I didn’t want to find myself in a situation where I’d have to queue to get fuel for my generator. I’m also a remote worker who has to be online almost 24/7. 

Getting a solar inverter has been one of the best cost-saving measures I’ve done this year. I don’t have a car, so I don’t have to worry about getting fuel for that because I rarely ever go out except for groceries. Speaking of that, I do my shopping in bulk, so there’s no need to visit the mall frequently. My data subscription plan is also in bulk; I pay a yearly data subscription of ₦100k on MTN that gives me one terabyte covering my internet needs.

I don’t eat out either; I make my meals. This one isn’t because of the subsidy removal. I’ve always been like that. It saves cost.

Another way I’ve adapted is to reduce my propensity to order stuff from online vendors. The other day I wanted to get stuff from Instagram, and the vendor told me it cost ₦‎2800, which was fine. Then I asked for the delivery cost, and she told me it was ₦2200. She told me the high delivery cost was because of the subsidy. I backed out because it made no sense to me. So yeah, these are the measures I’ve taken to readjust to life after the government removed the subsidy.

Itome, Business Analyst

For me, there are some essentials I can’t do without. Data is one of them, and that’s a non-negotiable, and I always make provision for that

Because my cost of living has increased, I go out only when necessary. I only use Bolt for significant outings. I take public transport most of the time.

To manage fuel, I turn on my generator when I need to charge my laptop and turn it off once my gadgets are fully charged. That’s how I’ve been managing.

Juliet, Banker

Cooking your food saves a lot. It’s much cheaper to cook at home and take your food to work than to buy food regularly. Imagine if my hubby and I buy food at work every day, plus our children. It would be very expensive. I also buy non-perishable food items in bulk.

Ilamosi, Sales Manager

Going out is the only thing I’ve cut down on. I barely go out now. Before the fuel subsidy removal, I’d be outside and come to work frequently. But now, with the hike in cab prices, it’s hard to leave my house. I’m now an introvert.

The cost of living has turned me into a home buddy. I’ve even reduced the way I order food. Usually, you’d find me on Chowdeck. Now? I cook. Dem no dey tell person twice.

Eloho, General Contractor

Regarding data, I use Fibre One wifi. It’s still cheap at the moment. For food, I made some bulk purchases before the inflation kicked in. I’ve not made any significant purchases afterwards.

Transportation is one area I’ve felt the pinch. Prices just dey surprise me every time. I use buses more than before to cope and only use Uber when necessary. I’m no longer shy of asking for Uber fare if my stepping out is doing someone a favour. I calculate in advance to reduce unnecessary trips

Regarding electricity, yesterday was the longest we ever ran my generator, which was babe-motivated. (Not my babe o, my brother’s babe). So far, our devices are charged, and we don’t run the generator like before. Before now, we’d put on the generator at the slightest inconvenience of heat. I go to places with better electricity to work instead of burning fuel.  

Generally, I now think more business-wise, figuring out how every relationship can become financially beneficial to everyone. I make myself more available and render help to anyone

On a personal note, knowing the principle of giving makes giving more conscious. I budget a little daily, as much as possible, and look for the needy. It’s not just because of love but as part of my financial strategy because by giving, you receive more (not from the person you gave to, lol).

Shola, Oil and Gas Worker

I didn’t care about the fuel price until the subsidy removal. Now, I don’t buy full-tank like before. I only buy enough for the week. It cost about ₦32k to fill my car’s tank. So, these days, I just buy half, roughly ₦15k. 

I don’t do long-distance drives, only making exceptions like going to my friend’s wedding or linking up with my babe. I had a chef that came in once a week but stopped her for a while. But eating out is biting, so I had to bring her back again at a higher rate. I’m now in between a rock and a hard place. I increased my housekeeper’s pay and slightly increased transfer payments to dependents.

My last movie dates were on the mainland, compared to my usual Ebony and IMAX at Lekki on the island. It’s cheaper, but my babe isn’t feeling this mainland level. It’s still the same film they’ll show us on the island or on the mainland.

Niyi, Corporate Trainer

I’ve stopped going anywhere. Fuel to fill my car’s tank is now about ₦37,000, up from ₦14,000. So I only go out when I absolutely have to go out. 

I’m also investing in more solar generation. The inverter I own relies on fuel and electricity to charge the batteries. More investment has gone towards increasing the number of solar panels to avoid relying on generators. It’s become unsustainable to use generators.

I also had to bring forward some purchases before the prices inevitably go up. 

Essentially, I’ve done a lot to reduce reliance on fuel because it’s become too expensive to maintain the lifestyle I was living in, pre-subsidy removal.

William, Lawyer

I’ve been in Abuja for the last few months, and it’s considerably different from living in Lagos. In Lagos, you at least have alternate transport like bikes. Here, outings are either via Bolt or a cab. Their cabs are arranged in a way that five people can sit in them. There are no bikes or buses here.

For the cabs, the price of transport has doubled. What cost about ₦1000 before now goes for ₦1800. I now go to court less than before. I also cut costs by moving in groups so that my colleagues and I can split the bill.

Personally, food prices haven’t increased. I still buy things at relatively the same price as before the subsidy removal. In Abuja, we don’t worry much about electricity. I think ours is way better than Lagos’s. On average, we get around 18 hours of consecutive power supply daily. On some days, it could be as high as 23 hours. That means you don’t have to worry much about fuel for your generator. You also don’t need to worry about wasting electricity to pump water, as ours is pipe-borne. The government supplies water, which is fascinating and different from Lagos, where everyone drills boreholes to get water. Abuja is giving American vibes.

Prices of other things may still go up over time, but for now, transport is the only area where I’m feeling the pinch.

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