5 Nigerians Talk About Navigating Inflation

June 15, 2021

The inflation rate hit 18.17% in March 2021 according to the Consumer Price Index report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The past couple of months have seen an uneven increase in the cost of things, and this has among other things, eroded the purchasing power of the average Nigerian. We spoke to five Nigerians about how they’re currently navigating this, and this is what they said.

Nwakaego, 35

Last year, I had a budget for alcohol and juice and bought them in bulk. During the lockdown, I reduced my spending on drinks because there were no visitors. But I increased my feeding budget. Things have slowly gotten worse between 2020 and now. I went from having goat meat, catfish pepper soup and Nkwobi in my freezer to having none of them. I went from buying a few bottles of wine to one bottle of wine. Now, I can either buy juice or malt drinks, not both as I used to. 

I love food a lot, and I’m pissed that all of this is affecting my feeding. For example, a lap of goat has gone up from ₦1500 to ₦3000. I can’t afford to buy the quantity I used to buy in 2020, and I cut the meat into smaller pieces. The lady I outsource some of my cooking has noticed this and teases me about it all the time.

Also, I used to budget ₦10k for groceries every month, but I spent ₦25k this month and I’m not sure what I bought is going to last me through the month. Don’t even get me started on toiletries — my budget was ₦10k. Now, it’s about ₦20k. I can’t braid my hair for ₦4k anymore, I need about ₦7k to do it now. 

And oh, I used to do something for myself on my birthdays. In 2019, I gifted myself ₦240k. In 2020, it was ₦15k and a mirror. I don’t think I can manage to gift myself anything this year. 

I was also big on holidays. Before 2020, I could conveniently afford a trip to Cape Verde. Everything was less than ₦500k at the time. I didn’t go last year because of the pandemic. Now, I can’t afford to go even if I wanted to. The same trip now costs about ₦1.1m. It’s exhausting thinking about it.

Iyanu, 26

These days, I give everything that costs money a lot of thought, and I try to figure out if I really need them. This is a departure from my spending habits last year. Things I used to buy at rather insignificant prices now drains my pocket.

I’m making less and spending a lot more even though I’ve stopped doing a lot of things I used to do. Last year, I could go to the bar with my friends and foot the bill. I don’t do that anymore and have even stopped hanging out with people. Also, I only eat out when I need to and cook the rest of my meals at home. However, that’s also more expensive than ever. Think about it, ₦300 was enough to cook a pot of spaghetti and sardine about two years ago. In 2021, ₦300 is only enough to buy one of the two. Now, everyone is like “Do I really need to eat sardine?”

Zainab, 19

The inflation has affected all my vices. Alcohol is a shitton more expensive now, so alcoholism in the mud. Luckily, the price of loud hasn’t increased. However, I have crazy munchies, and the price of snacks have gone up. My favourite cookies used to cost ₦850, but now it’s ₦1100. Maryland cookie now sells for almost 500, and it still tastes like shit.

Bread, sardine, and a bottle of Berry Blast was my regular Sunday morning routine, but not anymore. Sardine is now ₦500. Berry Blast is also ₦500. I mean, I can’t say “Let me use ₦1k to eat bread and sardine with Berry Blast.”

When I think about it, I feel pain and privilege. I know a lot of people have it worse. I live with my family and don’t have to buy a lot of things myself. It’s hard to think about the fact that there are people who would probably no longer be able to eat three times a day because of this. I hate it so much, and it makes me sad.

Divine, 32

I’m an interstate driver, and the cost of maintaining my car has gone up. Recently, I had to fix something in my car and spent about ₦18k. A few months ago, the same thing would have cost me just ₦10k. I used to buy a keg of engine oil for ₦5,500, but it’s now ₦7500. 

It’s especially painful because I’m making less money. Although I spend a lot more in ensuring that my car is fit for the road, the fares are still the same. I’ve had to adjust my budget and cut down on my spending on all fronts. Yet I’m not saving as much as I used to. In the past few months, my savings have dropped from ₦20k to ₦8k per week. I know Nigerians are good at adjusting and adapting to new situations — I’m doing that too — but God, It’s so exhausting. 

Seyi, 22

I don’t think I can get used to the new price of things. There’s an increase in the price of food items every time I go shopping. And all the time, I’m screaming “O por!” inwardly.

My buying behaviour has definitely changed. For starters, I was big on buying things in bulk but I can’t afford to do that anymore. I’ve restricted my purchases to what I need and the best I can do now is buy half the quantity of what I used to buy and call it a day. 

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