‘We Used To Eat 3 Times A Day’ — How Minimum Wage Worker Survives In Abuja

In the bustling metropolis of Abuja, a significant portion of the population struggles to make ends meet, living on wages below the official minimum threshold. Among them is Yahaya Gara, a security personnel in his mid-30s who earns less than the national minimum wage and is forced to make tough choices between essential needs....Read The Full Story Here ▶

In an interview with Pulse, he recounted how he often compromises nutrition, healthcare, and other basic needs to cope with the financial strain.

Nigerians like Gara face an escalating economic crisis characterised by soaring prices of essential food commodities, increased transportation costs, and a rising cost of living under the President Bola Tinubu administration.

The hike in basic food prices has hit the hardest, with staples such as rice, bread, and vegetables becoming increasingly unaffordable for those on the lower income spectrum.

Rising transportation costs worsen this situation, making it difficult for workers to commute to their jobs without sacrificing a significant portion of their meagre earnings.

Despite the government’s claims of stabilising the economy and fostering sustainable growth, the immediate hardships faced by those living below the minimum wage in Abuja have not only persisted but worsened, as evidenced by the struggles of people like Gara.

Here is how he survives on earning less than the official minimum wage.
Can you share your experience of living on minimum wage amidst the current economic challenges?

My experience living on minimum wage has not been easy. The country’s economic situation is challenging, and the masses are suffering.

Rising food inflation and other economic crises have drastically affected my life. For example, in the past years, I used to provide three square meals for my family. Now, it is hard for me to provide two meals a day.
Give me a breakdown of how you spend your salary every month

I earn ₦25,000 monthly. I use ₦10,000 to buy foodstuff. From the remaining ₦15,000, I buy my toiletries, body cream, and toothpaste. Sometimes, I squeeze out a little to buy myself clothes from Okrika (a thrift store). Sometimes I give my relatives out of it to help them in the village.
How have food inflation and other economic crises affected your daily life and ability to provide for yourself and your family?

For the past eight years, I have been living on the ‘zero, zero, one’ diet (0-0-1), and that is my reality, and it is not getting any better.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a minimum wage earner?

My biggest challenge is that my salary is insufficient and the cost of living is too high.
What strategies do you employ to cope with the economic hardships you encounter?

We have to manage life the way it is. I have to cut and reduce my budget to the level I am at for now. As I mentioned earlier, we used to eat three times a day, but we have reduced it to once or twice daily.
Do you have any support structure (family and friends) that regularly helps you financially?

I have no support from anywhere. Even from the government, I have not seen any on my side.
What changes do you believe are necessary to improve your living conditions?

Many things need to change. Prices of fuel, foodstuff, and other things. The new minimum wage itself has to be implemented as well.
How do you maintain hope and resilience amid ongoing economic adversity?

Seriously, we still hope things will be better. However, some people need to change their mindsets so that we can enjoy our country’s economic benefits.

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