Harsh Economy Under Buhari: Nigerians In Mass Exodus From City Back To Village
Punch Newspaper - As the current economic crisis bites harder, Saturday PUNCH has learnt that many city dwellers have been relocating from big cities to their villages or rural agrarian communities to survive the harsh time.

Findings show that the high cost of accommodation and feeding have been responsible for the recent increase in the migration of people from cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja to less expensive communities.

It was also learnt that some of the reasons for the relocation where because of the need to get cheap land for farming.

For instance, a retired federal civil servant in Abuja, Mr. Dairo Olorunfemi, said he had to relocate recently with his family to his village, Aramoko-Ekiti, as the Federal Capital Territory was becoming too expensive for them.

He said, “Abuja has always been an expensive place to live in but we had been coping till this recent administration came into power. Things are now too expensive and if I continue to live there, I will spend all my life savings trying to keep up.

“I had to relocate my whole family back to my hometown in Ekiti where I bought a vast portion of land at an affordable price and I am trying to start a farm. At first, it was not easy to adjust, especially with the children but now, we are doing fine.”

Also, a furniture maker, Ebuka Ejiofor, who formerly resided in Lagos, relocated to Umuagwo in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State because he could no longer cope with city life.

He said, “My family left Lagos and relocated to Imo State some weeks ago because things were becoming unbearable for us.

“It was getting to difficult to provide three square meals for my family so I had to move.”

Mr. Ayo Falodun, who spoke with one of our correspondents, explained that he used to sell electricity accessories in Ibadan, Oyo State, before his recent relocation to Ogbese in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.

Falodun said he relocated last November when living became more difficult for him and his family.

He said, “I decided to leave Ibadan and come to my village in Ogbese when I discovered that life was getting difficult with my four children and my wife.

“I have started farming. I also operate a small shop, where I sell electrical accessories, but I engage in farming to supplement my income.

“I have harvested some food crops already and my family is living better now than before.”

A resident of Oba-Ile, a suburb of Akure, who identified himself as Chikezie Uche, said his brother brought him to the South-West community from Owerri in January, when the high cost of living in the city was making life difficult for him.

The 29-year-old man said he had been doing laundry works since he relocated to the suburban community.

He said, “Since I came to ObaIle, I have been washing clothes for money. Although the income is not much for now, I still thank God because the cost of living here is not as much as that of Owerri.

Also, as a result of the harsh economic situation in the country, Femi Adedeji, a business centre operator, had to relocate his family from Ketu in Lagos to Imota area of Ogun State, where accommodation is much cheaper.

According to the 40-year-old native of Osun State, taking care of his four children and wife and paying rent for his two-bedroom flat in the face of poor business has put pressure on his resources.

He said he had to quickly relocate to Imota where accommodation is cheaper even though it is a long way from town where his business centre still operates.

Adedeji said, “The decision to relocate to Imota was a very diffifcult one considering the distance from where I still have my business but my income has dropped significantly and I can no longer afford to keep up with the high rent at Ketu.

“A lot of my friends also relocated to other interior parts of Ikorodu and Ogun State because they too could no longer meet up with the high cost of rent in the city.

“Finding food to eat these days has become even difficult; it is only God that can save us from this problem.”

One of our correspondents in Enugu confirmed that many tenants are now finding it difficult to pay their house rents as a result of the economic downturn in the country.

A landlord in the Independence Layout area of the state, who identified himself as Nkorie, said he had to issue two of his tenants with quit notices after they reneged on the payments of their rents.

Nkorie, who described the tenants as businessmen, said he had to ask them to leave because “there was no sign that they could raise the money in the foreseeable future”.

Another landlord in Abakpa area of the state, Mr. Ekeh, said his tenants had also not paid rents for several months.

Ekeh said, “I don’t even collect the rent annually, I collect it monthly but still, they are not able to pay me.”

He, however, admitted that “things were not always like this” as the tenants paid when due before now.

“My tenants have been with me for a long time and we have been like one family. I don’t think I can ask them to leave just like that,” he added.

But he said he was aware that some of the tenants were considering relocating to their villages.

An Enugu-based estate agent, Philip Uzoma, told one of our correspondents that many landlords had been complaining of unpaid rents by their tenants.

Uzoma added that many hitherto occupied apartments were now vacant and prospective tenants were either not coming to take them or were unable to pay the amount demanded by landlords.

In Kwara State, a landlord in the Government Reservation Area in Ilorin, Mr. Raymond Suleiman, said four of his six tenants had relocated to their villages.

Another landlord in the neighbourhood, Alhaji Kayode Oninago, said some of his tenants sold their electrical appliances to raise money to transport themselves to their villages. Another landlord at Gaa-Akanbi area, Mr. Lawrence Abdullahi, said four of his tenants owe him two years’ rents.

Traditional rulers hail migration to villages

Meanwhile, some traditional rulers in Ondo State have confirmed that the population of their communities has recently increased as a result of the migration of some people from urban centres.

The traditional rulers also expressed their satisfaction with the development; saying the situation might bring some development to their local communities.

The tradition ruler of Ibulesore in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba Joseph Falowo, said many people had come from many places to live in the town permanently.

He said, “Many people have come from urban centres to live with us, our town is peaceful and the cost of living is not high here compared to the urban centres.”

Similarly, the Olujare of Ijare, Oba Adebamigbe Oluwagbemigun, said the population of his community has increased following the migration of the people from Akure and other cities to the community.

Oba Oluwagbemigun said, “In Ijare here, we have a lot of them and we are happy about it. Some of them work in Akure, (the Ondo State capital) and live here.

The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdularasheed Akanbi, also shared a similar view. He said his town had been receiving new migrants from big cities.

He said, “People are relocating to Iwo because they know that they are safe here.

“The economic hardship in the country may also be responsible for that as some of the people have been embracing farming. I know that some have come and some will still come to explore the opportunities in Iwo and even in other places.”

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