Tucked in a remote part of Abuja is the serene community of Orozo. It’s the second day of the week,, and a significant number of its residents are at their workplaces. Amidst the restful silence, one can hear the delightful chirping of birds and the lively chatter of children returning from school.
The community boasts several small-scale business owners, many of whom are locked in conversations with their customers, haggling over the prices of goods. Within this fray is Mummy Winner, as she prefers to be called.
Mummy Winner and her children sit under a well-ventilated spot, a warm shelter from the harsh sunlight of the day boiling at 38 degrees.
“I am extremely exhausted. I am one of the many Nigerians who are on the brink of giving up but still hold on to tiny strings of hope that may or may not yield reasonable results,” she sighed.
Before Mummy Winner is a bench load of watermelon, pineapple, apple, orange, banana and groundnut.
“I have been selling this for over 10 years, and from my experience, life has never been more difficult. I am burdened with the economic state of the country because it does not favour us even in the slightest, she said.
Mummy Winner is overwhelmed by the gross amount of hard work she invests in each day. She sees the nature of her community. The condition of other residents, and it is certain that they need assistance.
“We’ve had the challenge of security before. In response to that we extended reports to the nearest police officers, and in no time it reduced. We have also had a number of challenges that we normally get by, but the poverty rate is on the rise,” she bemoaned.
Mummy Winner told Prime Progress about her neighbours who have been kicked out of their houses over rent. She also said that some have resorted to begging to at least fend for themselves.
“I am not in the position to help anybody in this community because I have three kids, a struggling business, and a home that needs my complete attention. If I don’t brace myself up and manage the little I have, I might just be on my way to the streets,” she said.
Taking on the role of a father
Data by the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that 63% of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor, according to the National MPI 2022. Multidimensional poverty is even more prevalent in rural areas, where 72% of people live in poverty, compared to 42% in urban areas.
In addition, the National Human Rights Commission, or NHRC, declared openly in a statement in 2023 that the removal of the fuel subsidy by the new president had aggravated poverty, wreaking untold hardship on many low-income earners.
Mummy Winner straddles the increasing challenges as the breadwinner of her family.
“I personally think the economic situation is tougher for people who have to go to offices every day. My husband, for instance, has to go to work daily. He has not received his stipends for months. I am now responsible for the family’s finances,” she explained.
The 35-year-old shared with Prime Progress that she bears the cost of her husband’s daily transport fare to work, which is beginning to take a toll on her business.
“For a long time now, I have been selling these same fruits. The large watermelon I used to get for N500 now costs N1200. The painful part is that even small watermelons cost the same as the large ones. I am not even talking about the transport fare I have to pay when going to the market,” she added.
Mummy Winner revealed that for months, she has incurred more losses than earnings, and people no longer buy her fruits on the go. They perceive her items as expensive, but she also needs to secure her profit.
“This community used to be filled with generous people who would easily share and give tips to their favourite business owners. These days, you hardly catch a glimpse of that. Everybody is out to survive, just like I am,” she emphasized.
Struggling to eke out a living beyond a dollar
Like Mummy Winner, Ya’u Idris resides in Orozo. He used to work for a block industry until he was dismissed because his employer couldn’t afford to pay his wages.
“After I was laid off, I had to stay active, especially because my wife had just given birth. Shortly after, I began selling onions in Orozo Market. That has been my job ever since,” he shared.
Idris struggles to make ends meet with his business, facing an irate landlord who may evict him if he cannot pay his rent. “Last year, my rent was N12,000, but it has doubled to N30,000. It’s hard for me to generate enough from my business, but I must make an effort or find a more affordable place,” he added.
Despite little aid from close relatives, Idris struggles to stay afloat. He opts to remain composed and explore additional options to meet his rent.
The stroies of Idris and Mummy Winner highlight the harrowing tales of hardship many Nigerians confront each day.