Not less than four in every ten Nigerians (42 per cent) who were working before the outbreak of coronavirus in the country lost their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, in April, an NBS survey found.
This estimate includes respondents in the poorest households, where about 5 in 10 (45 per cent) stopped working due to COVID-19, and the wealthiest households, where about 4 in 10 (39 per cent) lost their jobs.
The former bracket is where Folarin Adewole belongs. He said he was one of the outsourced staff laid off by Access Bank last month.
Although he received full payment for May, he said he “feels bad and very unusual” that that might be his last.
The National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS) on the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerian households was conducted between April 20 and May 11, a time range that coincided with a federally mandated lockdown, initiated on March 30.
It is the first of a planned 12 waves of the COVID-19 NLPS of households in Nigeria, where 3,000 households from the 2018/19 General Household Survey — Panel were contacted and 1,950 households were fully interviewed.
The survey also found that the commerce, service and agriculture sectors were the most hit by COVID-19.
Specifically, households earning from non-farm businesses lost their jobs the most, with 9 in 10 (85% per cent) families saying a member of their household lost their job. Likewise, in households engaged in farming, livestock or fishing, about 7 in 10 (73 per cent) said a member of their household lost their job. Among wage earners, about 6 in 10 (58 per cent) families said a member of their household lost their job.
More so, the National Bureau of Statistics said about 8 in every 10 persons interviewed (79 per cent) said that their households’ total income decreased since mid-March.
Within seven days prior to the survey (April 13 to 19), the report found that the range of 35-59 per cent of households who needed to buy staple foods like yam, rice and beans said they were not able to buy them.
Affordability aside, increase in the prices of major food items reduced the purchasing power of 85 per cent (about 9 in 10) of households since the coronavirus outbreak. This pales when compared to only 19 per cent (2 in 10) between January 2017 and January 2019.
As a result, in the bid to absorb the widespread shocks, half (51 per cent) of all households resorted to reduction in their food consumption.
Daniel Denis, 32, is a porter at Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LUTH) whose salary was recently slashed by half, to N15,000. The father of a 9-year-old daughter told PREMIUM TIMES he “barely feeds once a day” due to this.
“Experience of economic shocks in the few months after the outbreak of coronavirus far exceeds shocks experienced between 2017 and 2019,” the survey which is part of a World Bank global effort to support countries’ data collection efforts to monitor the impact of COVID-19, said.
The economic strain on many households due to COVID-19 is further worsened by a dip in their access to medical treatment. Approximately a quarter of all households were not able to access medical treatment when they needed it during the lockdown, the report said.
On the educational front, among households with children attending school prior to the nationwide closure in March, 62 per cent said that their children had engaged in any learning and educational activities since the closure.
Respondents are generally aware of important preventive measures against coronavirus such as handwashing (97 per cent), avoiding gatherings (90 per cent) and social distancing (89 per cent).
In Mr Adewole’s case, he said although regular staff were not laid off by his employers, but, he, an “outsourced staff”, was. I had hoped CBN’s order that banks must not lay off their workers would be a saving grace, but that wasn’t the case.
With that out of the picture, he “expected the bank to just pay us off, (so that) one can start a new life, considering the timing of the lay off.”
But that, too, was not to be.