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Christmas amid COVID-19, recession



 APART from COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted negatively on  the economy and still ravages the world, Nigeria in recent time, has been    witnessing another phase of recession which is biting harder on the poor masses, with  more than 100 per cent hike on prices of goods and services this yuletide.

  National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which officially declares recessions, said the two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP were not how it is defined anymore.

  The NBER defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in the GDP, real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales.

  According to Statistician General, Yemi Kale,  “Cumulative GDP for the first nine months of 2020, therefore stood at -2.48 per cent. The oil sector contracted by 13.89 per cent in the third quarter against growth of 6.49 per cent in the same period, a year earlier, none oil sectors shrank by 2.5 per cent in three months to September.

  Goods and services are presently not affordable as both imported and local foodstuff doubled their prices. For instance, a painter of garri, one of the stable foods in Nigeria that used to be sold  N200 is now between N800 and N1,000 in Anambra State. In Abia State, according Mrs Happiness Chinwe, who spoke to National Light through phone : “Anyhow, garri is sold for N1,000 per painter. If you need real ‘Ngwa garri,’ you will buy it at N1,200; that is doubled the old price. Tin tomatoes that were sold for N1,50, N2,50  are  sold for N300 and N500 respectively.

  50kg foreign rice sells between N33,000 to N36,000. Local rice is now N20,000, a satchet of water that was sold for N10 is currently sold  N20 in Anambra State.

    Speaking to National Light on how prepared to celebrate the Christmas, an Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), name withheld said, ASUU members needed to survive first before talking of celebrating. “Lecturers are already tired of strike, and have been weakened by governments’ six months starvation. Most of us have already learnt to stop trusting the government as issues of education is never prioritized”.

   A mason, Peter Ugochukwu said, to celebrate 2020 Christmas was difficult. “I am not talking about buying clothes for the family. My prayer is just to have food, especially rice to eat that day”.

A pastor, who also sells water with his tanker at Awka, said: “Considering the way the world is going, I think the end is near. People should read the hand writing on the wall. Look at this, fruits no longer yield its increase. This is a sign that nature itself is groaning. Foods are not affordable. People should amend their ways and seek the Lord.”

  Contributing, a trader at Main Market, Onitsha, ObinnaEze said the hike in prices of goods and services was as result of hike in the prices of dollar. “Before the pandemic, dollar was sold at around N363 but now, dollar is around N530. That is why we have a hike of about 80 to 90 per cent on almost every good.

  At building market OGIDI, Mrs Chinwe Johnson, lamented that many traders are facing much troubles. “Customers don’t come to us as before though prices of goods doubled their prices. We are looking forward to government to come to our aid; at least to give us soft loans to continue in our businesses”.

  Another trader, who sells undies said: “Before I went to the market to buy my articles of trade, I sold my old stock cheaper. But when I went back to the producers to buy more, the price was on the high side. The producers complained that they no longer import raw materials because of lockdown. The little they smuggle in are costly. That is why prices of goods are higher.

  A trader at Eke Awka Market, Victoria Nkem said that what led to the rise in prices of goods was the high cost of dollar. At first, I did not want to stock my store with goods. Later, I summoned up courage to buy goods for the season. To my greatest surprise, I discovered that amid COVID-19 recession, people still have money to buy goods for the season…”

  Contributing, a pig farmer narrated a story of the level of hardship in the country saying ,“I went to a grinding centre where people grind cassava for garri, corn, beans amongst others to gather chaff for my piggery. As I was gathering the chaff, a woman told me not to touch cassava chaff she kept explaining that a family which is poor uses that as their food.”

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