Against the background of the economic recession ravaging the country, Nigerians have been recounting their experience in the challenge of adjusting their lifestyles.
They spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews across some South West states and Kwara.
In Ogun, residents have continued to recount the effects of the economic downturn on their lifestyles.
The residents also shared various adjustments they had to make to survive the hardship resulting from the recession.
Mr Jude Akpan, a private school proprietor in Abeokuta, told NAN that his school had witnessed a drastic reduction in the number of students at the beginning of the current academic session in September.
“Many of the parents had withdrawn their children and the number of new intakes was so low.
“As of today, majority of the parents have either made part payment of school fees or have not paid at all.
“We have continued to lose our teachers on a weekly basis because we could no longer pay their salaries regularly because of the situation.
“The school business could no longer break through not to talk of making profit,’’ he said.
Akpan said that to survive, he had had to make an adjustment to his 12- year-old marriage.
“My wife has been a housewife since we got married in 2004 so that she could have time to take care of our children while I cater for them.
“With the present situation, I have been forced to ask her to start trading in order to augment the little I have been providing since the recession,’’ he said.
Mr Tunde Akinpelu, a banker with one of the first generation banks in Ota, said he had stopped eating in eateries where he had been spending a lot of money.
Akinpelu recalled that he used to spend at least N2,500 per meal in eateries and usually more when out with friends.
“Now, I manage to eat in some clean roadside restaurants where I spend between N400 and 500 for a nice meal,’’ he said.
The banker also said that he had also dropped the habit of eating in-between meals and hanging out at clubs and peppersoup joints after office hours.
“Now, I go straight home and I am able to relax and have more time to fix some other important things,’’ he said.
Akinpelu explained that he had also considerably cut down on the amount he spends on dry cleaning.
He said that with more time that he now has to himself, he has been washing his shirts and trousers by himself and only occasionally gives his suites to “low-key” dry cleaners.
“I used to spend about N30,000 monthly on dry cleaning, but I now spend about N7,000 monthly,’’ he said.
Mrs Monisola Adeyeye, a civil servant in Ijebu-Ode and single mother, said for the first time in six years, she was not able to pay her rent and her children’s school fees.
Adeyeye also said she had since stopped buying new clothes and frivolities to be able to meet basic needs.
She also said she was forced to go for catering and bead-making lessons on weekends so that she could have additional sources of income.
Mr Ckukwu Okpala, an economist, blamed the economic downturn on successive Nigerian governments, who allowed the country to depend on only one source of revenue while neglecting other sectors.
He said Nigeria must develop other sectors like agriculture, mining and tourism to get out of recession.
Okpala explained that Nigeria needed to look inwards and boost productivity as well as promote exportation to be able to earn foreign exchange.
“Our leaders need to create an enabling environment like adequate security, stability of policies, infrastructural development and promotion of the ease of doing business to attract foreign investors.
“When all these are done, Nigeria will quickly exit recession and move forward to an enviable height,’’ he said.
In Osun, residents said the recession was impacting negatively on lifestyles, adding that something urgent must be done.
A civil servant, Mr Laide Adegboye, told NAN that the economic recession was affecting feeding patterns in his family.
“The impact of the recession is affecting my family to the extent that we cannot eat the three prescribed meals in a day.
“Both states and Federal governments must do something urgent to alleviate the sufferings of the masses,’’ he said.
Adegboye said he could no longer save from his monthly half salary again due to the high price of food stuff in the market.
Also speaking, Mr Omiyale Sanni, a cloth seller on Station Road in Osogbo, said that the government needed to initiate a good frame work that would bring about good economic policies which could be used as a blue print to bring the expected positive change.
He said the economic recession was affecting his business as people were no longer patronising his shop again.
“What people are looking for now is what to eat and not what to wear and this is really affecting my business.
Also speaking, Mrs Grace Farinloye, the Chairperson of the Association of Bread Sellers in Osogbo, told NAN that bread business was experiencing low patronage due to the current economic recession.
Farinloye urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently take a proactive step in addressing the situation.
She said the price of bread was skyrocketing almost every week, saying the commodity which was once a staple was now beyond reach.
Farinloye said the economy recession had led to a rise in prices of food commodities, transportation and housing.
In Ibadan, Mr Olajide Yusuf, a sachet water producer, said that the current economic recession was seriously affecting his business.
Yusuf said that the recession had forced him to reduce the number of workers in order to maximise profit.
He said that the increase in the price of materials used in the production of sachet water was a big challenge and had contributed to slash in the work force.
Yusuf called on the Federal Government to urgently address the current inflation so as to prevent further shutting down of businesses.
A civil servant, Mr Saheed Morakinyo, urged the government to focus on diversifying the economy through agriculture so as to reduce import bill.
He said the over-dependence on imported goods had contributed to the high demand for dollar, fuelling inflation.
“Scarcity of dollars has contributed to the hike in the price of most items in the country and local manufacturers must be encouraged to solve this problem.
“Nigerians must patronise made in Nigeria goods to boost local production and discourage importation,’’ Morakinyo said.
Mr Oluyomi Akinyokun, a Computer Science lecturer at Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, said emphasis was now on prioritising spending.
“I now have to prioritise my spending more than before; the fuel I buy now has reduced, some places I want to go are sometimes shelved if unnecessary.
“I prefer taking public transport sometimes because it’s cheaper, while the things I purchase has also reduced because I now examine my purchases critically before buying.
“My personal savings has also reduced because the price of everything is on the high side, so the amount I usually save has gone down drastically.
“It’s actually the time to save more because this recession will still subside with time, although how high it will get to is not known,’’ he said.
Akinyokun urged the Federal Government to put in more efforts through policies such as reduction of tax on indigenous production to encourage export.
“They should also work more on agriculture which used to be our main source of income, increase loans to farmers and make the loan processing transparent.
“The farmers should also be encouraged to produce more and even when excess is produced, government should help them buy it off.
“When production is high and export is encouraged, the naira will stabilise and the economy will get a boost.
Also speaking with NAN, Mrs Kehinde Olusola-Aruleba, a teacher at Hapa College, Akure, decried the persistent economic recession in Nigeria due to the grievous effects on Nigerians.
“Prices of goods and services are climbing higher while workers’ salaries remain unchanged,’’ she said.
Olusola-Aruleba noted that she had to reduce her spending on non-essentials while venturing into small businesses to boost her income.
She urged government at all levels to increase workers’ salaries and ban importation of goods that could be produced in the country.
In Ilorin, a professor of Economics, AbdulGafar ljiya, advised Nigerians to re-design their expenditure profile in conformity with the current economic crunch in the country.
Ijaiya, who teaches at the University of llorin, urged Nigerians to shun ostentatious living and wasteful spending.
He lamented that many Nigerians had lost their jobs due to the current economic recession while several industries were moribund.
On his part, Dr Adekola Aminu, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Conflict Resolutions, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, said poverty and frustration were making Nigerians depressed.
Aminu told NAN in Ilorin that worry and depression could make people commit suicide.
He said the economic recession and high rate of poverty in the country had started taking a toll on some people who may see suicide as the only way out.
The expert pointed out that suicide results from many complex socio-cultural factors and may more likely occur during periods of socio-economic, family and individual crisis.
Other factors, he said, include loss of a loved one, unemployment, sexual orientation, difficulties with developing one’s identity and disassociation from one’s community or other social/belief group.
He implored the government to evolve measures that could help reduce suicide incidents to the barest minimum.
“Too much of worry and depression could push people to commit suicide.
“This is because there are those who think they cannot make it in life due to past failures, disappointment or poverty.
“Recession and high rate of poverty in the country could make some people end their life,” he said.
The Chairman, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Kwara chapter, Mr Suleiman Ishola, said there was the need for the country to diversify its economy by embracing agriculture and mining.
“The ongoing economic recession is something that will fizzle out with time but certain steps must be taken to achieve this.
According to him, government should be refining finished oil products rather than exporting crude oil and thereafter buying the finished products.
“The most important thing for us to do is to refine the crude oil and this will conserve our foreign exchange.
“If you look back, you will discover that we have not been gaining much and we are spending more than we are earning in the oil sector.
“We should look inwards and see how we can rearrange our system because nobody can develop our economy for us,” Ishola said.
He stressed that there were countries that were not blessed with crude oil but had built refineries to be refining for export.
Ishola advised the government to make judicious use of the four refineries to halt the importation of finished products.
However, in Ado-Ekiti, a private school proprietor, Mrs Foluke Ogunmodimu, told NAN that the recession had led to most parents withdrawing their children and wards to public schools due to inability to pay school fees.
Similarly, Chief Dipo Anisulowo, the immediate past Chairman of Ekiti Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said the recession had made him to review some of his spending.
Anisulowo, who is currently the Chief of Staff to Gov. Ayo Fayose, said Nigeria currently represents a sorry case of a declining economy.
“The growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has witnessed a drastic decline while the public sector has equally experienced persistent increase in budget deficit,’’ he said.
He warned that the direct consequence would be a major decline in consumer purchasing power, cost-push inflation and increase in unemployment due to dearth of hitherto performing companies.
Similarly, the Ekiti state Commissioner for Information, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi said the recession also affected the normal operations of the state government as evident in its inability to pay workers’ salaries as and when due.
As a way out, he said government had reduced its overhead expenses by cutting down the number of political appointees as well as reducing the number of ministries from 24 to 14.
“The lessons from the present economic predicament are many, but chief among them is that; politically, a declining economy means that we have to be willing to make greater sacrifices in our personal consumption.
“The economic problems confronting us in this nation are legion. Such problems include chronic national debt, inflation, unemployment, large public sector deficit, slow growth, depreciating value of the naira and sharp income gaps
“This economic decline has both economic and political implications. Economically, Nigerians face a major decline in their standard of living and high cost of living.
“There is dissatisfaction with the performance of government by the people. The larger the income gap or total lack, the more revolutionary the demands for real change,’’ he said.
Other residents of Ekiti, however, urged the Federal Government to evolve effective measures capable of getting the country out of the current economic recession.
Dr Kunle Abayomi, an economic expert and staff of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, said government must tackle the current recession which had led to many banks laying off workers.
He also expressed worry that many viable companies and industries were either folding up or relocating out of the country as a result of the prevalent high exchange rate.
Corroborating him, a fish farmer in Ikere Ekiti, Mr Niyi Akanni, said the financial crisis in the country was crippling businesses, including his fishing trade.
“Nearly all prices of everything being patented for sale in the market, including fish feeds, have gone up by more than 100 per cent. The backlash of this on what we rear is better imagined than experienced
“Distress in the banking system, like any other sector, is also not helping matters as it is a product of factors like the prevailing economic recession and policy-induced shocks.
“Another factor is poor and deteriorating asset quality from large portfolios of non performing credits occasioned by non availability of ready foreign exchange,’’ he said. (NAN)