Nigerian businesses have said the tough economic situation of the country has started taking its toll on retail sales as consumer spending declined across key cities ahead of Christmas.
This, some of the business owners attributed to the persistent increase in the costs of production, importation and operations that bolstered the prices of goods.
Also, this was unconnected to the economic situation of the country. Household income has remained on the decline since Buhari became president in 2015 while a lot of new policies introduced to up revenue generation had compounded the burden of Nigerians and subsequently reduced their purchasing power.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to a record high of 21.47% in November with the nation’s unemployment rate at 33.33% and interest rate up by over 500 basis points to 16.5%, Investors King reports.
While the NBS had attributed the rise in the food index to increases in prices of major food commodities, including potatoes, yam and other tubers, as well as fruits and vegetables, prevailing factors such as the high foreign exchange rate and counterproductive policies also contributed to the increase in the price of imported goods in malls in Abuja and other cities.
A check at some of the big malls within the Abuja metropolis, particularly in Wuse, Garki and Jabi, shows that several hampers in decorated raffia baskets, plastic bowls and wooden boxes had yet to be sold. A number of the hamper boxes which were expensively packed were begging for patronage.
Despite being packed with a lot of essentials, a huge number of the hampers only attracted onlookers and a few shoppers.
Asking one of the onlookers, he noted that though the hamper is worth the price of N280,000, the money to purchase such is however not available.
The Christmas hampers were packaged in different sizes with the least going for N180,000 while some are worth as high as N550,000.
Some of the mall attendants who spoke with Investors King expressed disappointment at the low patronage across all goods sections, noting that this year’s Christmas is celebrated amid a massive cash crunch from potential customers.
IBEDC Disconnects UCH Over N500m Debt, Critical Services Affected
The University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo State, experienced a disruption in its power supply after the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) disconnected the hospital over a debt amounting to N500 million.
Dr. Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director of UCH, confirmed the disconnection but refrained from elaborating on the exact cause.
IBEDC’s spokesperson, Busolami Tunwase, acknowledged the outstanding debt owed by UCH but denied that the disconnection was intentional.
Tunwase stated that while UCH owed the substantial amount, the power outage was due to a technical fault in the area, coinciding with the debt situation.
Despite repeated attempts to engage UCH in discussions to settle the debt, IBEDC had resorted to disconnection as a last resort.
The disconnection poses significant challenges to UCH’s critical services, affecting patient care and hospital operations.
While IBEDC emphasized its understanding of the hospital’s importance and commitment to resolving the issue amicably, the situation underscores the financial strains faced by healthcare institutions and the essential need for reliable power supply.
Efforts to negotiate and find a resolution between UCH and IBEDC are ongoing to restore normal operations and ensure uninterrupted healthcare services.
Oil and Gas Dealers Threaten Withdrawal as 70% of Downstream Businesses Collapse
The downstream oil sector in Nigeria faces a looming crisis as oil and gas dealers, represented by the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), issue a stern warning of potential service withdrawal.
In a recent resolution following their executive committee meeting in Abuja, NOGASA expressed grave concerns over the collapse of approximately 70% of businesses in the industry due to the harsh operating environment.
President of NOGASA, Benneth Korie, highlighted the dire situation, emphasizing the challenges faced by oil marketers in funding operations amidst soaring bank interest rates.
Korie underscored the overwhelming burden faced by operators who are compelled to acquire funds at exorbitant interest rates upwards of 30%, exacerbating financial strain and hindering business viability.
The primary demand voiced by NOGASA is the pegging of the foreign exchange rate at N750/$ to facilitate refinery operations and stimulate the production of refined products domestically.
Failure to address these pressing issues, Korie warned, could result in the withdrawal of services by NOGASA’s over 200 members starting from the next month.
The downstream oil crisis coincides with heightened anticipation for the release of refined petroleum products from the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries, seen as critical for alleviating supply shortages nationwide.
However, amidst forex crises and inflationary pressures, operators in the oil and gas sector confront mounting economic challenges, necessitating urgent government intervention.
As Nigeria navigates through turbulent economic waters, stakeholders eagerly await decisive action from authorities to salvage the downstream oil sector from imminent collapse and avert potential disruptions in fuel supply chains.
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