SOME Abakaliki residents, on Friday, decried the present economic hardship in the country, as they complained of the high prices of essential goods and services.
The respondents, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently address the galloping inflation.
The residents said the current inflationary trend in the economy was already having an adverse effect on the cost of essential goods and services.
“The impact of the economic recession is being felt across all the segments of the population, as most Nigerians could hardly afford a square meal.
The president should work out an enduring economic panacea to strengthen the nation’s economy and reduce the hardship afflicting the people.
The Federal Government should also take urgent action to address the situation with a view to ameliorating the suffering of the people,’’ the residents posited.
According to them, the high cost of fuel and kerosene, hike in electricity tariff and the ban on the importation of rice and other essential food items, contribute to the hardship.
Mr John Onwe, a trader at Abakpa Main Market in Abakaliki, said that the value of the naira had continued to plunge against other international currencies, due to high inflation while the prices of commodities were on steady rise.
“A bushel of local rice, which sold at between N3,500 and N4,000 in 2015, is presently selling at N10,000, depending on the quality.
“Due to the ban on the importation of foreign rice, other brands of the commodity available locally are still sell on the high side,’’ Onwe said.
He said that government had yet to put adequate palliative measures in place before the ban on the importation of foreign rice.
Another resident, Mr George Ogamdi, a civil servant, urged the Federal Government to provide palliatives in order to cushion the present hardship.
“The times are indeed hard for Nigerians, especially the civil servants, whose monthly incomes are fixed. There should be a review of workers’ salaries to address the present economic reality,’’ Ogamd said.
A lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business Education, Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Prof. Edward Umoke, blamed the current situation on poor economic planning.
“We need to revisit our national economic master plan, understand the role of small and medium scale enterprises in growing national economy and take a critical look on power infrastructure.
“The economy will continue to dwindle and our currency get weaker as long as we remain a consumer rather than producing nation.
“Government should encourage the manufacturing sector and especially the small and medium manufacturing industrial outfits to stimulate economic growth.
“We cannot expect to have a strong currency when we do not have commodities we export to shore up our foreign reserve, except the oil,” Umoke said. .
He called for support and patience of the people to the present administration, as the nation would come out stronger from the recession.