The dust raised by the high exchange rate of Naira to US Dollar is yet to settle as many traders in Lagos who sell imported goods are finding it difficult to get customers to buy their goods. Many people go to market these days to check whether the price of goods has reduced. But to their chagrin, not much has changed. Only few people are in a position to afford the high cost of goods in the market today.
Chukwuma Isuma who sells handbags at Tinubu Street, Lagos Island told The Guardian that the depreciation of the Naira is really affecting his business.
“There is not much profit in my business. The cost price of my bag was N2,100 and I used to sell for N2,500. Now the cost price is N2,500 and we sell N2,700. The price that we used to sell is the price that we now buy.”
Isuma’s neigbour, Mr. Samuel Okeke, a fashion designer recalled that this is a hard time. “I had about five workers working for me. I had to tell them to stop when the business was not moving.”
Okeke is now selling to put food on his table. He is not planning to re-stock. He wants the government to do something positive for the Naira to regain its strength, “so that we can eat three square meal a day. Let the government address the nation and tell us the way forward.”
He said a pair of Safari suit that was N3000 is now N5000. One of his customers, a civil servant said he has postponed buying any clothing materials in the meantime until Naira appreciates.
“When I came to the market last time, a Safari suit was N3,200 now it is N5,000. I cannot even buy now. I will have to wait until Naira regains its strength.”
According to him a bag of rice is now sold for N15,000. He urged the government to fight corruption with caution.
A businessman, Emeka Anyichie said that the free fall of the naira is really affecting his business. “Government just has to do something because the people are suffering. They just have to educate the people about what is really going on. I believe that people should be patient because the crisis will not last.”
Anyichie said that he buys his dollars from the black market to travel to Korea, China and Hong Kong where he imports textile materials.
He said the last time he travelled, the exchange rate was N330 to a dollar, complaining that the depreciation of the Naira has affected his profit margin.
“Before we used to buy textile products from Sunflag Nigeria Limited but Nigerians prefer foreign goods.”
He said that some people had labeled locally made textile products substandard materials.
“They say they don’t last. That is why I have to travel all the way to China to buy textile materials. We need to change our mentality.”
He urged the government to convene an economic conference to address the situation.
Mr. Peter Ibiwoye, a fashion designer, said the free fall of naira has affected the prices of goods.
“Everything is expensive. Food is now expensive. We have to buy fuel to power our generator everyday. I had to borrow money to add to the money I used to buy a new generator. It is not easy for us to increase our price because our customers don’t understand what we are going through.”
He disclosed that he used to sew a pair of suit for N5000. It now costs from N6,000 to N7,000 to sew same.
He is worried that even the prices of staple foods had gone up. “We blame everything on the dollars. What has the high exchange rate got to do with the price of yam or pepper? It should not affect non- imported products.”
Another fashion designer, Ganiyu Lawal, lamented that traders now latch onto the free fall of the Naira to increase even the prices of their old stock.
“I just bought an industrial tailoring machine. They sold the made in China for me at N56,000 two weeks ago. The same machine now sells for N62,000. Let the government rebuild the Nigerian economy.”
Mr. Lola Adeniyi, a gambler at Obadina Street, Lagos Island said that the situation has affected his business.
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