The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has declared that Nigeria’s economy has officially leaped out of recession, having recorded 0.55% growth in Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter (Q2) of 2017. SaharaReporters went on the streets of Lagos to hear the reactions to this news from Nigerians who have had to endure the harsh realities of the economic downturn.
A number of Ikeja residents and traders who spoke to our correspondent seemed to agree that Nigerians are beginning to feel the effects of the positive economic growth in their daily activities.
A small-scale mobile phone dealer who introduced himself simply as Oloba said he noticed that his business has improved in recent months, as the price at which he purchases phones is lower than it was three months ago.
“I can only speak on what I deal in. Before now, the prices of small phones went up as high as N4000 but the price has since reduced. What I can stay is that the prices of the phones are coming down and I am really happy about that,” Oloba said.
Aloh Monday, who sells food stuffs at Onigbongbo market, opined that the cost of food commodities is gradually reducing, so Nigerians can now buy more with the same amount they spent for fewer items earlier in the year.
He explained, for example, that a bag of rice that was sold for about N20,000 now sells for a lower price. Mr. Monday said prices of garri, Guinea corn, beans, and other grains are also lower now.
“The prices are getting better. Beans used to be very costly; we bought beans for N50,000 or N45,000 but the price has gone down considerably,” he said.
Another trader, Mrs. Aneyle, corroborated Mr. Monday’s statement, saying that she now buys her goods at cheaper retail prices which in turn allows her to sell goods at more affordable prices to consumers.
Speaking on the cost of palm oil and stock, Mrs. Aneyle said, “We sold a bottle of red oil for N800 but now the same bottle goes for N400. I think things are gradually getting better.”
Another respondent, Muyiwa Adeola, agreed that the country’s economy might indeed be moving out of the recession, pointing out the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that some filling stations now sell Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at the rate of N142 a liter.
However, some Nigerians are of the opinion that the statistics are mere figures that have yet to translate into better living conditions for the masses.
For “Mama Buns,” a middle-aged woman who sells homemade snacks along Isaac John Street in Ikeja, the supposedly improved economy has not in any way relieved the people.
“Maize flour that we used to buy for N6,000 we now buy at the rate of N11,500. And you people are saying we have left recession? An egg-roll used to be N50, now we sell it for N100,” she said.
Chigozie Nkem queried the NBS statistics, insisting that his experience buying basic goods suggests that the livelihoods of ordinary Nigerians are not improving. He lamented that he used to buy sliced bread for N250 but has been paying N300 over the past two months.
“I really don’t know how they got the statistics but I don’t want to bother myself with the statistics they have put out. The reality on the ground is that things are not getting any better in Nigeria. There is no money in the country and that is the reality,” Mr. Nkem said.
Similarly, the Special Adviser on Economic Affairs to the President, Adeyemi Dipeolu, said the exit of the economic recession is commendable but economic growth remains fragile and vulnerable to policy shocks.
He stated that food price inflation remains an issue due to high transport costs and seasonal factors such as the planting season.
However, he believes that “investments in road and rail infrastructures, increased supply and availability of fertilizers and improvements in the business environment should contribute to the easing of food prices.”