With Christmas around the corner, majority of Nigerians shopping for the festivity are going through harrowing times. Many may end up with bleak celebrations. This is because the prices of essential goods and services have continued a steep rise. Petrol scarcity has also persisted, resulting in very high intra-state and inter-state transportation fares.
Apparently echoing the pains of the masses, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a Christmas message issued yesterday in Abuja lamented that Nigerians were currently going through “dark times,” and called for urgent action from government.
At the top of the essential commodities whose prices are rising steeply is Nigeria’s staple food, rice, which was on display yesterday at one of the outlets of Spar in Ikoyi, Lagos bearing a price tag of N51,000. This is Nigeria-grown 50kg bag of rice. The cheapest of such local rice in the open market in Lagos is N40,000 per 50kg bag. Foreign rice was selling for as high as N50,000 per 50kg bag.
Prices of Chicken, Turkey and beef that go along with rice are also still rising. A large size chicken was going for N12,000 last night at the popular Oyingbo market in Lagos.
Nigerians planning to join their families across the nation are also having problems with the cost of transportation which is increasing daily as Christmas and end of year festivities approach.
Young Shall Grow transport, Lagos to Owerri mini bus is N20,000; Luxury and Coaster are the same price – N15,100.
Other popular bus services such as ABC Transport, GIG Motors, are all fully booked for today and Christmas day.
The informal motor parks in street corners in Lagos and other cities have increased fares, citing petrol shortage and the high number of people that need their services. Flying is also very expensive. A Lagos-Abuja return ticket was going for an average of N160,000 yesterday.
Nationwide petrol scarcity worsened less than a day before the festivity, resulting in a boom in the black market. Many fuel stations remained shut. There is no part of the country where the price of this vital commodity has not gone up astronomically. In Lagos, petrol is selling for as high as N400 per litre in the black market. This is why Nigerians are paying heavily for inter-state transport.
In Abuja yesterday, only a few stations were dispensing fuel. The NNPC stations still selling the product are witnessing queues. Black market is also booming in Abuja, with petrol selling for as high as N350 per litre in some places.
Nigerians Living in Dark Times, Laments NLC in Christmas Message
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a Christmas message issued Friday in Abuja lamented that Nigerians are currently going through “dark times”.
The message which was signed by the national president of the Congress, Ayuba Wabba, decried the poor living conditions of the workers in the country.
The union also encouraged Christians to “resonate the light of hope birthed through Jesus Christ.”
The message partly reads, “This Christmas, we urge Nigerian workers and people to resonate in the light of hope birthed by the love of God conveyed through the birth of His son Jesus Christ.
“It is the illumination of this hope that inspires confidence in our hearts that however dark our night as a country might be, light would certainly emerge and shine at the end of our tunnel. Many Nigerian workers and ordinary people are currently going through the dark tunnel of soaring inflation marked by very steep increases in the prices of essential goods and services.
“Many Nigerian families are going through the dark tunnel of general apprehension about their security and personal safety as criminals and terrorists hold sway in many parts of the country looting, raping, kidnapping, and killing. Many Nigerians who would be traveling this festive season would be going through the dark tunnel of bruised, broken and battered infrastructure, especially roads.
“While the light of Christmas would be celebrated across many cities, towns and villages around the world with bright illumination which are by-products of stability in public electricity supply, many Nigerians would be battling with queuing for hours to get petrol to power their generators.
“It is difficult to keep urging workers and ordinary Nigerians to hold on to the life buoy of hope in the midst of a burgeoning bay of darkness. Yet, hope is Christmas’ sublime message. It is only prudent that we take sinew from the knowledge that the darkest night usually births the brightest mornings. We believe that Nigeria’s brightest morning is just ahead of us.”
Speaking further, the NLC boss encouraged Nigerian workers to be deliberate during the 2023 political season.
“After this Christmas, the next major event that will face us as a country would be the 2023 general elections. There is no bigger harbinger of hope than the opportunity to select a fresh set of political leaders. Political leadership is the match that lights the torch of hope. Every country would rise and fall with its choice of political leadership. Nigeria is no exception.
“We urge our compatriots, especially workers to be very deliberate in their engagement with the political process come 2023. Elections are the time to ask critical questions and make rational choices. Workers must identify with political party candidates who demonstrate commitment to lighting up the end of the tunnels of economic downturns marked by soaring inflation, widespread insecurity, deepening poverty, escalating crisis of unemployment, especially among the youth demography of our country, decadent physical infrastructure, and brazen corruption in high places.
“We urge Nigerians to rise up to the challenge using the 2023 general poll as an enabling platform to elect a political leadership that is conscientious, prudent, and completely obedient to our demands as a people. 2023 is our torch of hope,” the statement concluded.