“We are literally existing and not living because our struggles go into getting just basic amenities. A lot of Nigerians today no longer talk about enjoying life.”
Many workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to support them with palliatives to cushion the rising cost of living.
The respondents on Thursday said the plea had become necessary as workers could no longer meet their needs with their present earnings.
While calling for discussion around the review of the minimum wage, they urged the government to in the meantime help with palliatives.
A young man, who works in the Central Business District of the FCT, who pleaded anonymity, said, “It has not been easy.”
Bridget Akubo, a mother of four, said life had become unbearable as a worker.
Ms Akubo, a civil servant, said the number of persons in her workplace made monthly contributions at the beginning of each year toward buying certain food items at the end of the year for the yuletide.
However, she said they were shocked that their total contributions could not afford what they had easily afforded in previous years.
According to her, we went to the market at the weekend to buy 25 litres of vegetable oil in preparation for Christmas, but “we were shocked that the price has risen.”
The civil servant explained, “We were told that it now goes for between N33,000 and N35,000 depending on the brand. Some of us had to make extra contributions to be able to buy the oil while others simply gave up or went for a lesser quantity.”
Ms Akubo added, “We are literally existing and not living because our struggles go into getting just basic amenities. A lot of Nigerians today no longer talk about enjoying life but about how to meet basic needs.”
She called for the convening of an economic summit to find a lasting solution to the economic challenges in the country.
Evelyn Obadiah, a businesswoman, said although struggling to make ends meet, she felt more for salary earners.
Ms Obadiah, who deals in foodstuff in the Nyanya axis of the FCT, said she often interacted with workers who patronised her, adding that most of them had cut down on purchases.
Her interactions with the workers revealed complaints about meagre salaries, irregular salaries or pay cuts.
According to her, she is forced to open a register to keep records of some workers who purchase items with the promise to pay after receiving their salaries.
The businesswoman, however, said she might not be able to continue with the gesture as some of them owed her up to three months before offsetting the bills.
“This is the worst of times to live in Nigeria as a civil servant. I have many of them as customers, and they complain that their salaries can no longer cater to their needs because of the high cost of food, electricity, water, and accommodation,” Ms Obadiah explained.
She added, “One of them told me that as a father of four with many dependents, it is becoming difficult for him to meet up with his obligations.”
Ms Obadiah said the government needed to consider increasing the minimum wage to make life better for the average worker.
“The minimum wage, as we speak, cannot buy a bag of rice. I know that part of the problem is inflation, and some would argue it is a global problem. I know it is a global problem, but with deliberate and implementable policies, things will get better,” she stressed.
Ms Obadiah called on the government to give palliatives to civil servants to help cushion the effect of the economic hardship.