SABON GARI, Nigeria – The removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria has had wide-reaching economic impacts, affecting various sectors and communities.
Among those hit hard are commercial sex workers in Kano State, who report a significant drop in patronage, which they attribute to the economic hardships following the subsidy removal.
In interviews conducted in the Sabon Gari area of Fagge Local Government on Sunday, August 27, 2023, several sex workers expressed their concerns about dwindling income and increasing financial struggles.
Ms. Mercy Benjamin explained that previously, she could charge N5,000 for short-term services.
The price has dropped to as low as between N500 and N700 due to the economic challenges affecting potential customers.
“We’re experiencing hard times in our business,” Benjamin said, “Our pockets used to be full; now we’re scrambling for customers who are offering much less.”
Jennifer, another sex worker, lamented, “It’s no longer business as usual. Sometimes, getting even three customers in a day is a blessing. The prices they’re willing to pay are also disappointing. Due to low patronage, I owe the management three days of room rent.”
Jennifer also noted that clients would offer additional incentives before the fuel subsidy removal like food, drinks, and other goodies.
“Those days are gone. It’s a struggle even to find customers,” she added.
Ms. Helen Ediga, a single mother of three, is contemplating leaving the industry if she finds an alternative source of income.
“I am only in this because I have children to feed. If I had any other way to make a living, I’d quit in a heartbeat,” said Ediga, adding that the economic crunch has made her life unbearable.
Apart from individual sex workers, businesses related to nighttime leisure activities have also suffered.
Night clubs, fun centers, and drinking joints report a noticeable drop in patronage as residents cut back on leisure spending due to economic constraints.
The situation illuminates the broad ripple effects of economic policies like fuel subsidy removal.
While the government’s aim may be to stabilize the national economy, the immediate impacts on everyday people, even those operating on the margins of society, are proving to be severe.