High Cost of Living In Nasarawa State: A Painful Reality


“Adding to the challenges of continuous rising costs in almost everything is the supposed willingness of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration to pay over N60,000 as the new minimum wage to workers. This figure, though still on the negotiation table for Organised Labour, the Federal Government, and other stakeholders, appears grossly insufficient in meeting the basic needs of workers in Nasarawa state”

One year into the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nasarawa State, nicknamed ‘Home of Solid Minerals’, is fully feeling the heat of current economic crunch and suffering being experienced by citizens across Nigeria.

Located in the North-Central geo-political zone of the country, the State, like every other, is grappling with an increasingly high cost of living that makes it difficult for residents to meet their basic daily needs.

Regrettably, the situation is made worse by exorbitant prices of goods and services, particularly with soaring cost of food items, transportation, utilities and accommodation amid the inadequate minimum wage of over N60,000 being proposed by the Tinubu-led Federal Government.

No doubt, the combination of these factors has created harsh socio-economic realities for individuals trying to earn a living and sustain their respective families with the necessities of life.

Among the numerous challenges faced by residents of Nasarawa state is the continuously rising cost of living as reflected in the almost unaffordable prices of goods and services within the State. Away from the State capital, Lafia to the local government areas such as Nasarawa Eggon, Akwanga, Keffi, and Karu where many residents and visitors alike used to patronize the regular market days, the prices of staple foods such as rice, beans, garri, yams, and even vegetables have skyrocketed and no longer affordable for many average families.

For instance, a bag of rice, which used to cost around N800 a mudu now goes for between N1,200 and N1,500 depending on the brand. The same goes for a bag of rice that now sells for upwards of N65,000 to N85,000 based on the brand.

Similarly, the price of beans has risen from N1000 to between N2000 and N2200 per mudu while garri and groundnut, popularly considered as poor man food, are no longer affordable even for the average Nigerian family.

Also not spared by the astronomical hike in prices are vegetables, fruits, and other perishable items. Four fingers of plantain that used to sell for between N300 and N500 now go for between N1500 and N2500 while a bunch of plantain now goes for between N5000 and N7500 compared to the former price of between N2000 and N3000.

Tomatoes, onions, and peppers, which are essential for cooking, have seen their prices triple or quadruple within a short period. Similarly, the skyrocketing cost of protein sources like fish and meat has now made them luxury items for most homes.

What can one say of transportation, a critical aspect of Nigerians’ daily life, that has also become a significant and huge burden for Nasarawa State residents, especially Civil Servants and business people whose offices are located in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and they must transport themselves to and from work in search of their daily bread?

Without mincing words, the high and rising cost of fuel (petrol) remains the primary driver of increased transportation expenses, making it difficult for individuals to commute to and fro their different locations. The increase in public transport fares has led to individuals relying on unsafe or overcrowded transport means in other to save money, thereby endangering their lives.

For example, a trip from the popular Mararaba and Karu in Nasarawa State to Abuja, the Nation’s Capital which used to be around N800 for a return trip now costs between N2500 and N3500 depending on the time of the day and location. Within the state, shorter trips that previously cost N100, N150, or N200 now cost between N300 to N500 or more depending on the distance. The increased cost of transportation not only affects daily commuting for workers and students but also inflates the prices of goods as traders pass on the increased cost of moving goods to consumers.

Lamentably, confirmation of the precarious situation comes even from official quarters with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) declaring that the average price of rice, garri, and tomatoes rose by about 141 percent in one year.

There is no cheering news from the government agency going by its recently released statistics that indicate the average price of rice rose to between N2000 in 2024 from N547 within the same period in 2023, showing a percentage increase of 156 percent, just as the average price of garri, on a month-on-month basis, surged 13.59 percent from N750 in March to N1,554 in April 2024

The NBS said that the selected food price report showed that the average prices of food items such as onion, rice, beans, bread, beef, tomato, and garri, rose considerably in April, thereby accelerating food inflation to 40.5 percent in April.

Speaking with Forefront News on the situation of things, Mr. Mohammed Hussein expressed frustration over the current economic hardship, stating that rising prices have made accessing essentials difficult.

Also noting that the fuel subsidy removal has complicated his ability to go to work daily, Hussein said this is added to the increase in the cost of housing and utility that has placed a huge financial burden on residents. Annual rent for a modest two-bedroom apartment in Nasarawa has increased from around N250,000 to between N450,000 and N500,000 or more.

Electricity tariffs have also risen astronomically, with irregular supply forcing many households to rely on generators that run on petrol or diesel similarly affected by the price hike.

Adding to the challenges of continuous rising costs in almost everything is the claimed willingness of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration to pay over N60,000 as the new minimum wage to workers. This figure, though still on the negotiation table for Organised Labour, the Federal Government, and other stakeholders, appears grossly insufficient in meeting the basic needs of workers in Nasarawa state.

In helping to break down the monthly expenses for a worker to illustrate the inadequacy of the proposed figure by the government, Adrian Boscom, who says he is a civil servant in one of the Federal parastatals, said that for food, given the current market prices, a modest food budget might require at least N20,000 per month. Transportation: For someone commuting daily from Nasarawa to Abuja, transportation costs could easily amount to over N25,000 monthly or even more while housing for those sharing a two-bedroom apartment, annual rent could be around N150,000 and N250,000.

“Put together utilities such as electricity, and water among others at about N20,000 monthly expenses, then the sum of 60,000 being proposed is barely enough to cover these expenses leaving little or no room to take care of other necessities such as healthcare, clothing, and unforeseen expenses”, he volunteered.

Another citizen, Mrs Anna, a wares trader, mentioned that acquiring and selling her products has become a herculean task due to increased prices and transportation costs, even as she mentioned that her family can no longer cope with the purchase of the goods they use regularly due to the ridiculous increase in prices of commodities.

On his part, Moses Akuzeyie said; “My heart is very heavy about Nigeria right now because, in my opinion, we just took a giant step backward in our national journey. Now, do not get me wrong, I support the current economic policies of my country. Fuel subsidy removal and Naira flotation are necessary policies that any lover of Nigeria should adhere to regardless of party affiliation.

Expressing his anger at the current situation of things Tosin Michael lamented that the cost of living has become very unbearable despite the government-mouthed efforts of working to turn things around and provide good governance in the country. Hear him; “The cost of living is killing the living. All items, across the board, have become too expensive for the ordinary citizens and we have an APC government that seems uninterested in improving the welfare of citizens.”

Though not funny, Dennis Otu conveyed his frustration thus; “See, even common Gari that we usually called ‘German sand’, has become so essential and no longer staple food”, adding; “Let us be truthful to ourselves, is there anything affordable in this country now..It is suffering and hardship everywhere”

However, amid the torrents of complaints, most of the residents are in agreement that the government must demonstrate compassion by urgently focusing on areas that would bring succour to the people.

With the high cost of living hindering personal growth as well as the mental and emotional well-being of individuals and households in Nasarawa State, the submissions are that to effectively address the issues, the government must implement policies aimed at controlling inflation, improving the supply of essential goods, and stabilizing fuel prices.

There is a need for the proposed minimum wage to be adjusted upwards by the tripartite negotiating Committee to reflect the reality on the ground and the true cost of living in the country while the need for investment in infrastructure to reduce transportation costs and enhance access to affordable housing and utilities cannot be overemphasized.

Without such measures, the economic strain on Nigerians will continue to worsen, making it increasingly difficult for individuals and families to sustain themselves and live healthily in present-day Nigeria.

– Blessing Nkereuwem is on Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) in Abuja

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