Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economy. Show all posts

Friday, July 12, 2024

Poultry farming sector hit by inflation in Nigeria

Nigeria's poultry farming sector is experiencing widespread problems. Rising costs of feed, drugs, and production have led to the closure of 30 percent of farms within just six months.


Nigeria unions meet president in push for new minimum wage

Nigeria’s labour unions told President Bola Tinubu on Thursday that soaring prices and a weakening currency were biting hard as they pushed for a new minimum wage they say will help cushion workers from the worst cost of living crisis in generations.



Labour unions suspended a strike in early June to give negotiations on the new minimum wage a chance but a failure to reach an agreement could prompt unions to call for new action.

Leaders in Nigeria are mindful of deadly riots in Kenya that forced the government to backtrack from raising taxes and are trying to balance between appeasing restive workers and borrowing more to meet wage demands.

Any major disruptions to economic activity could tip over an economy struggling with tepid growth, low production of oil, its main export, and high cost of living.


The government is offering a monthly wage of 62,000 naira ($40) but unions want 250,000 naira ($160) and have asked authorities to roll back increases in gasoline and electricity prices. The last minimum wage was agreed in 2019.


The labour leaders said they had agreed some issues with Tinubu, which they did not disclose, and added that they would reconvene another meeting in a week.

Related story: Nigeria strike: ‘My monthly pay won't buy a bag of rice’

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Nigeria suspends tax on imported brown rice, corn, and other food

Nigeria plans to suspend taxes on certain food imports including wheat and maize for 150-days, and recommend a retail price to try to bring under control rising prices in Africa's most populous nation, its agricultural minister said on Monday.

The move is part of the government's policy to curb food inflation, which has climbed to over 40% year-on-year, and spur growth which has been fragile for almost a decade.

President Bola Tinubu has asked his economic management team to prepare a 2 trillion naira ($1.33 billion) stimulus plan to address concerns about food supplies and pricing and bolster key sectors, the finance minister said last week.

"To ameliorate food inflation in the country caused by affordability and exacerbated by availability, the government has taken a raft of measures to be implemented over the next 180 days," Agricultural Minister Abubakar Kyari said in a statement posted on X.

He said that the government would import 250,000 metric tons of wheat and 250,000 metric tons of maize in addition to imports by the private sector. The commodities will be imported in their semi-processed state and target supplies to small-scale processors and millers.

Food inflation has soared in the West African nation with insecurity in parts of the country's food producing regions and poor road network linking farms to markets.

Soaring costs of food staples have deepened the cost of living crisis and added to double-digit inflation which is stuck at nearly 30-year high.

Kyari said the tax waiver would cover food commodities imported through the country's land and sea borders. 

By Macdonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Related story: Video - What's the root cause of the economic crisis in Nigeria?



Monday, July 1, 2024

Child malnutrition crisis in Nigeria amid rural violence and soaring food inflation

An unprecedented number of children in northern Nigeria are suffering from acute malnutrition, aid workers in the country have said.

Nigeria has the “largest number of food insecure people globally” at 31.8 million, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization office in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri said.

Médecins Sans Frontières, which is working in seven states, said its facilities were so overwhelmed that children were being treated on mattresses on the floor. MSF said it admitted 1,250 children in April to an inpatient therapeutic feeding centre in Maiduguri, twice the figure for the same period in 2023.

Dr Simba Tirima, MSF’s Nigeria representative, said: “In all these places we’ve seen, at least in some cases, double what we saw last year or at least a more than 60% increase in the patients admitted. We have a crisis at hand. We have an emergency at hand, and those kids that are severely malnourished definitely need treatment.”

Severe acute malnutrition has also led to other conditions, such as tuberculosis and acute diarrhoea, and stunted children’s growth. More than 52,000 patients were diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition across seven states in 2023 and 2,693 of them died, according to MSF figures.

The reasons for the increase in malnutrition are well noted: food inflation is close to 30% as Africa’s most populous country is experiencing worsening food insecurity. A third of the country – amounting to more than the combined population of the UK, Ireland and Denmark – live on less than £1 a day.

Meanwhile, farmland has been abandoned in parts of the north because of gangs kidnapping, extorting and in some cases killing farmers. The Nigerian newspaper the Punch reported that 165 farmers were killed in the first three months of this year.

About 1.2 million people were displaced in eight states in central and north-west Nigeria by the end of 2022 because of violence, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration. In that same period, about 2.3 million others were displaced in the north-east, where jihadist groups such as Boko Haram continue to run amok.

The insecurity and economic instability have made food expensive. Food reserves in some villages have been depleted as there has been little or no growth in household incomes, some local people told aid workers.

In January, a report by the US Department of Agriculture and the Global Agricultural Information Network revealed that Nigeria had become the second country in Africa, after South Africa, to embrace genetically engineered corn.

A month later the government ordered the release of 2,000 metric tonnes of grains from the federal reserves, with the agriculture minister, Abubakar Kyari, saying: “Food security is national security”.

But aid organisations say millions of people are still at risk of famine as Nigeria enters the lean season, which is usually from June to September. The World Food Programme has already projected that 26.5 million people in Nigeria could face acute hunger by the end of this period.

Other experts say the position could deteriorate even before then and have called for immediate funding to save millions of vulnerable children.

“We’re not even in the middle of that lean season,” Tirima said. “We need other actors to come in. MSF is just one organisation. In fact, what we do is a drop in the bucket … we are nowhere near addressing the immediate crisis that we face.”

“A child who died yesterday of malnutrition is a tragedy,” he added. “A child who might die tomorrow because of malnutrition is preventable.”

By Eromo Egbejule, The Guardian

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Video - Price of ram skyrockets in Nigeria as Muslims mark Eid al-Adha

The country is facing its most expensive Sallah celebration in almost 30 years, as the price of ram hits a record high. The West African nation is experiencing its highest inflation rate, jeopardizing one of the most cherished rituals during Islam's Eid al-Adha - ram slaughtering.


Related story: Video - Soaring fuel prices in Nigeria threaten agricultural prosperity


Friday, June 14, 2024

Nigeria Gets $2.25 Billion Boost From World Bank

The World Bank approved $2.25 billion in funding to support Nigeria’s economic reform efforts, helping to boost the supply of hard currency on the local foreign-exchange market.

The fresh funds will support Africa’s largest oil producer’s efforts to stabilize the economy and assist the poor and most economically at risk, the Washington-based lender said in a statement on Thursday. It will also help the country raise non-oil revenues and safeguard oil revenues to promote fiscal sustainability and deliver quality public services, it said.

Nigeria has battled years of acute foreign-exchange shortages arising from low crude production and a lack of economic diversification. Since coming to office in May 2023, President Bola Tinubu has worked to address the scarcity with a series of reforms aimed at attracting foreign investors and boosting economic growth. They include the central bank clearing a $7 billion backlog of unmet foreign-exchange obligations to industries and foreigners, allowing the naira to trade more freely, increasing interest rates steeply and sharply adjusting gasoline prices to phase out a costly fuel subsidy.

“Nigeria’s concerted efforts to implement far-reaching macro-fiscal reforms place it on a new path which can stabilize its economy and lift its people out of poverty,” said Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank vice president for Western and Central Africa. “This financing package reinforces the World Bank’s strong partnership with Nigeria, and our support towards reinvigorating its economy and fast-tracking poverty reduction, which can serve as a beacon for Africa.”

Monique Vanek, Bloomberg

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Video - Labor unions in Nigeria stage strikes over minimum wage dispute

The strikes began on Monday. The unions advocate for a raise nearing 300 U.S. dollars. But government and private sector representatives say the best they can offer right now is a 50 U.S. dollar raise.


Related stories: Video - What's the root cause of the economic crisis in Nigeria?

Power grid in Nigeria shut down, airlines disrupted as unions strike


Video - What's the root cause of the economic crisis in Nigeria?

Nigeria is a resource-rich country, it has Africa's largest population and it's one of the world's top oil producers. Yet, the nation of more than 200-million people has struggled with corruption, economic mismanagement and a weak currency. A general strike this week is once again drawing attention to these challenges. Union leaders want a higher minimum wage and blame recent reforms by new president Bola Tinubu for worsening the situation. But can a general strike that's shut down the national electric grid and several airports force the government to change course on this issue? 

Al Jazeera 

Related story: Power grid in Nigeria shut down, airlines disrupted as unions strike


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Ademola Lookman in travel chaos ahead of Nigeria's World Cup qualifier vs. South Africa due to Strike

Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman is one of eight players unable to join Nigeria's training camp in preparation for the first of two FIFA World Cup qualifying fixtures this month.

Lookman, who recently scored a hat-trick as Atalanta defeated Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the UEFA Europe League final; goalkeeper Maduka Okoye; and outfield players Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Calvin Bassey, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi and Paul Onuachu have all arrived in Nigeria but are unable to reach the team camp in Uyo "because of the ongoing Nigeria Labour Congress strike that has stalled domestic flights", Super Eagles media officer Promise Efoghe said.

Nigeria's organised labour called a nationwide strike after failed negotiations with the government to raise the federal monthly minimum wage from N30 000 ($US20) to more than N400 000 ($US269).

The absence of the players is a major headache for head coach Finidi George as he prepares the team for the fixture against South Africa, with African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen and Bayer Leverkusen's Nathan Tella having already withdrawn from the squad.

Osimhen is out for four weeks with an injury, and has been replaced by Enugu Rangers left-back Kenneth Igbokwe.

Tella is reported to have excused himself due to family reasons. He has been replaced in the squad by Caykur Rizespor's Ibrahim Olawoyin.

The remainder of the squad -- 15 players -- trained for the first time on Monday morning at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.

Colin Udoh, ESPN

Related story: Power grid in Nigeria shut down, airlines disrupted as unions strike

Power grid in Nigeria shut down, airlines disrupted as unions strike

Nigeria’s main labour unions have shut down the national electrical grid and disrupted flights across the country as they began an indefinite strike over the government’s failure to agree a new minimum wage.

The strike is the fourth embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), two of the country’s biggest union federations, since President Bola Tinubu took office last year.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said on Monday that union members drove operators away at power control rooms and shut down at least six substations, eventually shutting down the national grid at 2:19am (01:19 GMT).

Nigerian airline Ibom Air said it was suspending flights until further notice due to the strike while another, United Nigeria, said airports across the country had been shut down and striking workers had permitted none of its flights to operate.

Electricity and aviation unions said in a statement they had directed members to withdraw their services in compliance with the indefinite strike.

“We demand a living wage,” the NLC said on X. It and the TUC represent hundreds of thousands of government workers across key sectors.

The unions want the current minimum monthly wage of 30,000 naira ($20) to be increased to nearly 500,000 naira ($336). The government has offered 60,000 naira ($40).

The unions’ demand would increase the government wage bill by 9.5 trillion naira ($6.3bn), which is capable of “destabilising the economy”, Information Minister Mohammed Idris said.

Since taking office, Tinubu has embarked on reforms that have fuelled inflation, sending it to an almost 30-year high, and worsened a cost-of-living crisis in Africa’s most populous nation.

He has been under pressure from unions to offer relief to households and small businesses after scrapping subsidies on petrol, which previously kept fuel cheap but cost the government $10bn a year.

Unions declared an indefinite strike on Friday after talks over a new minimum wage collapsed. They said the strike would last until a new minimum wage is in place.

The TCN said it was making an effort to recover and stabilise the national grid, but unions were obstructing grid recovery nationwide.

Unions have also demanded a reversal of an electricity tariff hike that went into effect last month for better-off consumers who use the most power as the government tries to wean the economy off subsidies.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Nigeria strike: ‘My monthly pay won't buy a bag of rice’

Monday, June 3, 2024

Nigeria strike: ‘My monthly pay won't buy a bag of rice’

As an indefinite general strike begins in Nigeria, one worker tells the BBC that it’s impossible to survive on what the government is proposing as a minimum wage as it is not enough to buy a bag of rice.

Security guard Mallam Magaji Garba says he needs 50kg of rice, which costs 75,000 naira ($56; £44), to feed his family each month, before taking other expenses into account.

The minimum wage is currently 30,000 naira, which the government is offering to double.

Nigeria's unions under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress are demanding it be raised to 494,000 naira, which they say reflects the current economic realities.

Nigerian information minister says accepting the union demands would cripple the economy and lead to job losses because business would not be able to pay their workers and so have to close.

The walkout has caused disruption at the country’s busiest airport, Murtala Muhammed International in Lagos, with passengers saying they have been left stranded outside the domestic terminal.

Workers in health, banking, aviation and other major sectors are expected to stay away from work, a move that will cripple the West African country's economy.

Mr Magaji, who works for the education ministry in the northern city of Kano, says he and his family of 14 are struggling to survive.

“I am calling on the government to consider us and increase the minimum wage so that we can live and eat decently.

“It’s not fair that we have top government officials earning millions monthly and the smallest workers earn so little and finding it difficult to feed.”

The 59-year-old said he sometimes has to walk to work as he cannot afford to pay for transport.

Nigerians have been hit by a double whammy of the removal of a fuel subsidy and a collapse in the value of the naira since President Bola Tinubu took office a year ago.

Mr Tinubu says the measures are necessary to reform the economy so it works better in the long term but in the short term, inflation has risen to nearly 34%.

The government has ended the policy of pegging the value of the naira to the US dollar, allowing it to dramatically depreciate. Whereas 10,000 naira would have bought $22 last May, it will now only purchase $6.80.

Mansur Abubakar, BBC 

Related story: Video - Soaring food prices in Nigeria strain family budgets on staples

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Video - Nigeria facing a decline in foreign remittances

Insecurity at home appears to be one factor deterring Nigerians abroad from sending money back to the country. The decline in foreign exchange remittances affects the country's ability to import goods and services and could lead to further inflation. But authorities in the country say they are tackling the challenges.


Rising cost of sanitary pads in Nigeria impedes menstrual hygiene

Every month, Sadiya Maikasuwa, 40, is reminded that the cost of living crisis for her means more than high food prices. She now spends double what she used to on sanitary pads — a monthly expense she must prepare for.

Until she started using sanitary pads some years ago, Ms Maikasuwa never worried about these expenses. The mother of three said she has now reverted to her old ways.

“I used sanitary pads before but it’s too expensive now. I have stopped using it,” she told PREMIUM TIMES at her neighbour’s home in Pegi, a community in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Rising Cost of Living

In the past year, soaring inflation, resulting from fuel subsidy removal and the floating of the naira by President Bola Tinubu, has created an economic crisis that has Nigerians groaning. The prices of commodities have more than tripled and inflation rose for the 11th consecutive month.

In Aprilreaching the highest level in a generation at 33.69 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Meanwhile, about half of the country’s population is silently battling that crisis on another front: the prices of sanitary pads have more than tripled in the past year, worsening period poverty among Nigerian women of reproductive age.

Statistics show that about 37 million Nigerian women and girls cannot afford essential menstrual hygiene products.

Though the Finance Bill signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020 exempted sanitary pads from Value Added Tax (VAT), it has hardly affected the product’s prices, increasing from an average of N450 in 2021 to N1,500 in 2024.

Nigeria has one of the highest costs of sanitary products, according to a study by PlushCare, a telehealth platform that provides virtual primary care appointments. For this research, the platform said it measured in local currencies, the cost of a one-month supply of tampons, sanitary pads, and ibuprofen medication at the cheapest available prices in 107 countries before converting prices to US dollars.

“We then compared this cost to the average local person’s monthly income to find the most and least affordable countries and US states to menstruate,” it added.

With more than 133 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, menstrual expenses risk taking a backseat in family budgeting, said Anikeade Funke-Treasure, the convener of Sanitary Pad Media Campaign. She said the high prices of food means families now have less disposable income to spend on items such as sanitary pads.

“When gari is selling for N80,000 per bag, ditto rice and beans, why would people not use the money set aside for pads and add to the ones with which they will buy gari and rice and pepper? Something has to give in,” she said in a virtual interview.

Settling for cheaper options

Zainab Muhammad, a 24-year-old student at a university in Sokoto State, North-west Nigeria, makes and sells snacks and confectionery, making between N1,000 and N3,000 profits daily, depending on orders. Yet, she is not immune to period poverty. Ms Muhammad said she has had to settle for a less expensive sanitary pad or use a less healthy alternative.

“When I don’t have enough money, I use what our parents used to use,” she said, referring to cuttings, adding it is an option she now explores more frequently.
Settling for cheaper options

Zainab Muhammad, a 24-year-old student at a university in Sokoto State, North-west Nigeria, makes and sells snacks and confectionery, making between N1,000 and N3,000 profits daily, depending on orders. Yet, she is not immune to period poverty. Ms Muhammad said she has had to settle for a less expensive sanitary pad or use a less healthy alternative.

“When I don’t have enough money, I use what our parents used to use,” she said, referring to cuttings, adding it is an option she now explores more frequently.

“Some will come to buy the other (more expensive) one and when they don’t have enough money for it, they just buy the other one,” he said.

Umar Hassan, a store owner at Wuse Market in Abuja, also said his customers opt for the less expensive products.

“Some people that used to buy Molped stopped buying it when it became expensive and they have switched to Softcare because it costs less,” he said.

How prices of sanitary pads rose

PREMIUM TIMES spoke with sellers of the products in the FCT, Enugu, Plateau, Lagos, and Sokoto states.

At the Wuse Market in Abuja, Rufai Ibrahim, a trader, said the prices have doubled in the last few months. He said Softcare sold for N1,000 last year but now costs N1,800. Always, another brand, which used to sell for between N700 and N800, now sells for N1,500, he said.

Mr Ibrahim said the smallest size of Molped increased from N500 to N1,000. The medium size increased from N1,000 to N2,000 and the biggest size from N1,500 to N3,000.

“Most of them doubled their prices,” he said, adding that his customers now buy less quantity than they used to.

This year, the price of Molped has increased at least two times, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.

The price of a bag containing 18 packs of sanitary pads sold for N11,250 (for Maxi thick) and N13,320 (Ultra soft) in February. Each of the packs contains seven to eight pieces of sanitary pads. The bag with eight packs (each with 32 pieces) sold for N16,640 (Maxi thick) and N20,240 (Ultra soft).

In March, the bag of 18 packs increased to N13,800 (Maxi thick) and N16,500 (Ultra soft). The bag of eight packs increased to N21,000 (Maxi thick) and N25,500 (Ultra soft).

In April, the price for a carton of Virony increased from N36,000 to N40,000, said Umar Hassan, a store owner at Wuse Market in Abuja.

He said a carton of Softcare increased from N31,000 to N35,500. Molped increased from N10,500 to N16,500. “It’s the most surprising one because it’s the smallest and they hiked the price so much,” he said.

He added that the smaller carton of Softcare increased from N9,800 to N11,500.

In Sokoto State, Armiya’u Aliyu, a store owner, said the price of Molped recently increased from N500 to N750 and Softcare from N400 to N650.

Mr Kabara, a store owner in Jos, said the price of Virony increased from N1,200 to N2,000.

Reusable pads to the rescue

Faced with the rising prices, some women told PREMIUM TIMES that they have abandoned disposable sanitary pads.

Safiya (not real name), a broadcast journalist, said reusable pads have offered her freedom from the constant expenses of sanitary pads.

“Well, it is getting ridiculous. The price you heard of today differs from that of tomorrow, so I opted for reusable pads in the market,” she said.

“Now, I buy reusable pads instead and I am okay with it. …though washing it can be somehow, but we move.”

Also, Ubaida Abubakar, 35, said she started using reusable pads after it was distributed to her daughter in school. “When you use it, you can wash it, dry it in the sun, and reuse it next time,” she said.

Ms Funke-Treasure said reusable pads are one of the ways to solve the issues of period poverty. She said her not-for-profit has also adopted the distribution of reusable sanitary pads to tackle period poverty in both urban and rural areas.

“The disposable ones you use and discard. The reusable ones you use, wash, sun-dry, and then use again. So you don’t have that repeated purchases,” she said.

Martha (not real name) said she now uses the sanitary pads for longer hours than she used to, changing it less frequently to reduce the number she uses.

“Because of the availability of the pads, I used to change like three to four times but now I find myself changing only twice a day,” she said.

Charity Israel said she experiences ‘heavy flow,’ which means she has to change the sanitary pads more frequently. She uses three packs whenever she’s on her period, she said. Ms Israel lamented that she now gets only one pack with the same amount she previously paid for the three packs she needs.

“(The hiked cost of sanitary pads) stresses me out, but I still struggle to get it,” Kasuwa Danlami said, echoing what some retailers told this newspaper.

Losing campaign against period poverty

When Ms Funke-Treasure started the media campaign against period poverty in 2020, sanitary pads were still selling for between N400 and N450 but many women couldn’t afford them.

“Fast forward to four years later, a pack now sells for N1,000, depending on the kind of brand that you’re looking for,” she said.

Ms Funke-Treasure, who produces radio dramas, podcasts, and a TV show about menstrual hygiene, worries that the inflationary effect on sanitary pads may reverse the gain recorded in the number of women adopting sanitary pads, and worsen menstrual hygiene for them.

“If we thought we were winning, with the campaign for proper menstrual hygiene for women, it looks like we may be losing that way given the rising cost of living in Nigeria now.”

She said the challenges faced by menstruating Nigerian women are multi-faceted. She, therefore, advocated a comprehensive policy by the Nigerian government.

“We’re saying to the government, please let’s have a comprehensive menstrual health policy that will make it possible for children or school girls to have free menstrual pads. That’s number one,” she said.

She added that the policy should also extend to practices including menstrual leave at places of work.

“Many women in the workplace suffer from endometriosis or fibroids from PMDD and all of those things they will not tell you because of the silence around period conversations,” she added.

By Qosim Suleiman, Premium Times 

Related story: Video - Babies born in Nigeria 80 times more likely to die before age 5

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Nigeria central bank delivers third big interest rate hike of the year

Nigeria's central bank delivered another big interest rate hike on Tuesday, responding to a continued rise in inflation which hit a 28-year high in April.

Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Olayemi Cardoso said the bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was faced with a decision to either raise or hold rates while it observed the impact of previous hikes, but opted for an increase in the interests of price stability.

The Monetary Policy Rate was increased by 150 basis points (bps) to 26.25% (NGCBIR=ECI), the third rate increase this year after hikes of 200 bps in March and 400 bps in February.

"The balance of risks suggests further tightening of policy to build on the benefits from previous hikes," Cardoso told a news conference.

Economists had widely predicted another hike given soaring inflation and the highly volatile naira currency.

"A bold policy move was required to bring Nigeria's real rates closer to positive territory and halt the naira's decline," said Danny Greeff, an analyst at ETM Analytics.

Inflation reached 33.69% year-on-year in April (NGCPIY=ECI) - a level not seen since mid-1996 - spurred by the government slashing petrol and electricity subsidies and twice devaluing the naira since President Bola Tinubu took over last year.

The central bank has more work to do to rein in price pressures and there could be more rate hikes to come, analysts said.

The International Monetary Fund has welcomed the central bank's previous hikes and called for decisions to be data-driven.

Cardoso has pledged to curb inflation, support the naira and depart from the unorthodox policies of his predecessor who blurred the lines between monetary and fiscal policy with direct interventions to try to lift economic growth.

The government is also struggling to lift output from its crucial oil sector and keep a lid on rampant insecurity that has left swathes of the country outside its control.

The central bank's next rate-setting meeting is scheduled for July. 

By Chijioke Ohuocha, Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Macdonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Thursday, May 9, 2024

More unproven asthma treatments used in Nigeria as inhaler costs rise

In Nigeria, soaring inhaler costs pose a significant challenge for asthma patients, especially as the world marked Asthma Day this week.

The departure of multinational firms like GSK, coupled with inflation, has driven prices skyward, rendering essential medications unaffordable. As a result, patients are turning to alternative treatments.

World Asthma Day 2024 finds Nigeria facing a mounting health crisis with asthma medication costs soaring more than 500% in less than a year.

That has led many like Khalida Jihad, an asthma sufferer for nearly 30 years, to cut down on their medical supplies.

"I hardly buy and stock up any more...but I definitely have to have inhaler no matter the cost I definitely have to have it but then what about people who can't afford to have it?" she said.

Some, like Rita Joseph, a college student, unable to afford inhalers, turn to untested alternatives.

"For four months now, I can't afford inhaler because of the high price so, I now use ginger, garlic, cloves, lemon and other natural ingredients because they are cheaper," she said.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease causing breathing difficulties. It affects millions globally, and results in more than 450,000 preventable deaths annually according to the World Health Organization.

While Nigeria lacks recent official data, a 2019 survey estimated the country has 13 million asthma sufferers, among the most in Africa.

Public health experts like Ejike Orji fear the rising cost of medication could lead to a crisis.

"If the drug to manage that is not handy when someone has an acute attack, it leads to loss of life," Orji said. "As one asthma is finishing attack, another one is starting and that is why affordability of those drugs is very important. Good example, Ventolin inhaler is a standard drug people buy, now Ventolin inhaler is not even in the market."

Asthma's burden falls heavily on low-income countries. More than 80% of deaths occur there due to lack of awareness, poor management of the disease, and limited healthcare access as disclosed by WHO.

Orji emphasizes the need for Nigeria’s government to promote asthma awareness.

"One area the government can do something is to increase the public education and community engagement to create comprehensive awareness of what to avoid if you are an asthmatic, what to do to prevent yourself getting into trouble and when you are having an attack, what to do immediately," Orji said.

By Gibson Emeka, VOA 

Related story: Video - Measles outbreak kills over 40 in Nigeria

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Video - Nigeria hopes remissions by overseas nationals can resolve foreign exchange issues

Nigeria is planning to launch a new program to resolve its liquidity and foreign exchange woes. The Nigeria Diaspora Fund seeks to pool together billions of dollars remitted monthly by its citizens overseas for local investments, including infrastructure, healthcare, and education.


Friday, May 3, 2024

Video - Nigerian workers demand 1,950 percent increase in minimum wage

Unions made their demand as the nation marked Labour Day on Wednesday amidst increased economic hardship and stalled negotiations between the workers and the government. The dispute comes even as the country's salaries commission raised the pay of government workers by between 25 percent and 35 percent, backdated to January.


Related story: Civil servants in Nigeria get pay rises up to 35% due to inflation


Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Civil servants in Nigeria get pay rises up to 35% due to inflation

Nigeria has raised salaries for civil servants by between 25% and 35% amid to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

The lowest-paid government employee will now earn $324 (£258) a year, Reuters news agency reports.

Police and military officers are among state workers who are set to benefit from the pay rises, which will be backdated to January.

The announcement came on the eve of Wednesday's Workers' Day holiday.

However, the rate of inflation is currently more than 30% - the highest figure in nearly three decades.

The cost of food has risen even more - by 35%, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics, so the pay rises mean that salaries for civil servants stay roughly the same in real terms - what it can buy in the shops and markets.

Pensions for those workers who benefit were also increased by between 20% and 28%, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) said.

The hikes come after the government recently raised the salaries of academic staff members and healthcare workers.

However, the monthly minimum wage, set by the government and which all employers are supposed to observe, has not changed since 2019, when it was put at 30,000 naira - this is now worth just $19 (£15) after a sharp fall in the value of the naira over recent months.

The government also recently increased electricity tariffs for consumers who use the most power as it seeks to wean the economy off subsidies that have weighed heavily on public finances.

The trade union umbrella group, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), welcomed the latest pay increase but urged the government to ensure that it was reflective of the harsh economic situation in the country.

"These categories of workers are already in the privileged sector but we expect it to be extended also to other categories of civil servants who are in lower cadre and are vulnerable," NLC spokesman Comrade Benson Upah told local media.

Negotiations are ongoing between the government and the main labour unions about an increase in the minimum wage.

Food prices as well as the prices of goods and services have doubled in many parts of the country since the removal of a fuel subsidy last year.

Petrol shortages have worsened in Nigeria's major cities, with long queues observed since last week, as Africa's biggest oil producer struggled with a fuel scarcity.

Authorities blamed the shortage on supply disruptions due to logistical challenges.

Most of Nigeria's oil is exported, while the fuel which is used locally is mostly imported due to a lack of refining capacity.

By Wycliffe Muia, BBC

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Video - Tade unions in Nigeria want 500 U.S. dollar-per-month minimum wage for workers

Union leaders say the adjustment is necessary to help workers cope with the rising cost of living in the country.


Nigeria seeking up to $2.25 bln in World Bank loans

Nigeria is seeking up to $2.25 billion in World Bank loans and expects the bank's board to approve the request in June, the government said in a statement following the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

Nigeria also aims to issue diaspora bonds later this year to attract much-need foreign exchange into the country, Finance Minister Wale Edun said in the statement.

The World Bank loans would comprise $1.5 billion in development policy financing and $750 million in programme-for-results financing, the statement said, adding the bank would meet in June to consider final approval of the package.

The World Bank did not immediately comment on the statement.

Nigeria, typically Africa's largest oil exporter, has faced a shortage of foreign exchange that pushed its naira currency to record lows versus the U.S. dollar this year, though it has since rebounded.

President Bola Tinubu also inherited an economy saddled with record debt, high unemployment and large central bank financing, though Edun, in an interview with Reuters last week, said the government had halved federal borrowing from the central bank.

By Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
, Reuters