02 February 2012: Tony is a system administrator and leaves in New Site FHA Lugbe, a suburb along the Airport Road, Abuja. He is single and works in an IT firm in Maitama Abuja.
He woke this morning feeling great. He grabbed his skipping ropes and 15 minutes later, he was sweating profusely. Every morning, works out and baths with about 10 litres of water.
There is no urban water supply in the area so he buys his daily supply from a Mè Ruwa – water vendor – for N1 per litre. This morning, he paid N2 per litre. The Mé Ruwa said the operator of the servicing bore hole has doubled the price of water because he runs the bore hole with generator.
Tony’s estate is about 6 km away from the Airport Road. From his house to the bus stop at FHA junction – along the airport road – was N100 on okada, but today, okadas charge N200. Before now, it costs him N50 on a coaster buses to get to Eagle Square from the junction. Today, the buses are charging N100 to city centre. The driver also blames fuel price increase.
Tony takes drop – cab – to his office for N200. Today he is paying N450.
At lunch time, Tony strolled to the canteen with a female colleague he is admiring. As they sat, the waiter approached him to warn that food prices have been hiked.
“White rice with stew, plantain and beef is now N1100 per plate,” the waiter warned. It used to be N520. They ate anyway.
Back in the office, he organizes his male colleagues and they angrily walked up to their boss.
“We need a pay rise,” they demanded. “The price of every other thing has gone up!”
“We are all in this together,” their boss replied. “I am even thinking of sacking some of you to cut cost.”
At the end of the day’s work, Tony was unusually broke. He rushed to a nearby ATM, took out some cash and teamed up with a colleague to pay the taxi fare back to Federal Secretariat, close to Eagle Square where he would catch a bus back home.
With N100 fare from secretariat, he is back to FHA junction, Lugbe, along the Airport Road. It is rush hour and the okadas at the junction are charging N250 back to his estate. Life has been extremely expensive today, but he had to go home.
Back home, there is no light, no electricity. He has a generator. He picked up his jerry can and walked to a kiosk behind his apartment to buy petrol – black market.
It has been in his face all day, he read it in the papers, discussed it with colleagues, paid the price in every service he got. Now, he’s buying it himself. Fuel at the filling station is now N155 per litre from the N65 it cost the other day and the black market vendor is selling at N185 from N100.
He needs electricity at all cost tonight. The government backed electricity supply is very erratic and seen randomly for less than four hours a day. He bought 5 litres anyway.
He returns home, puts on the generator and sat before the TV to see the evening news.
There is a knock on the door, he opened and the landlord stretched a folded white paper.
Reluctantly, he collected and unfolded the paper. His one-bedroom-flat’s rent expires in three months, the letter informed him. But that’s not the issue. The rent has been increased from N300,000 to N450,000.
The landlord did not wait for any discussion, but his letter blamed the sky high inflation and hike in cost of living for the rent hike.
Tony sat back in his couch and collapsed.
Tony’s life, like every average Nigerian’s, is closely attached the petrol and the United States Dollar. When their prices increase, prices of every other commodity and services shoot up. Wages and salaries are the only exception to this rule.
The “average Nigerian” make up to 90% of the nation’s population and with a combined effect of Naira devaluation, the average Nigerian is in for a harsh hard time.
If the government provides water, Tony would have saved money on Mé Ruwas.
If there were public transport, Tony would have saved on drops and okadas.
If the government had encouraged agriculture in the country, lunch wouldn’t have been so expensive.
If his boss could access credits at low interest rate, he would have been earning higher and won’t probably be out of job soon.
If the government generates electricity, he could have kept back the money he spent on petrol for generator.
If fuel subsidy wasn’t removed, his landlord wouldn’t have increased the rent so high that he would collapse at the thought of life ahead.
Tony woke the following day in a local clinic to discover he has also incurred sky high hospital bills. He has no health insurance.
To his frustration, the government’s decision to remove the Fuel subsidy is cast on stone and at the end of the day, the poorest always pays the most.