In the wake of MumZee’s viral revelation on X about her early morning cooking routine due to the absence of a freezer and microwave, a broader issue has surfaced, shedding light on the stark reality faced by millions of Nigerians living without essential household assets. Nigeria, once considered the economic powerhouse of West Africa, is grappling with a significant portion of its population lacking access to basic amenities that were commonplace in 1970’s America. Deborah Olaki, popularly known as MumZee on X (formerly Twitter), unexpectedly rose to fame after sharing her commitment to waking up at 4:50 am to prepare breakfast for her husband.
The catalyst for this drastic change in routine was her husband’s mention of a female colleague bringing an extra spoon to work. MumZee’s tweet on January 4, 2023 sparked a wave of empathy, leading many to realize that her early morning routine was driven by the absence of a freezer and microwave in her household. It was only five days later that MumZee disclosed the reason behind her early wake-up call. “You people have already blessed me with a freezer and microwave so, I can sleep anyhow I like now,” she joyfully exclaimed. The response from the online community was overwhelming, with many well-wishers gifting her household items to alleviate the challenges she faced.
Household items like fridges are only available to a few.
However, MumZee’s situation is not an isolated one. The latest Nigeria General Household Survey (2018/2019) reveals that only 8.7 percent (19 million) of the country’s total population of 218 million own freezers, while a mere 1.5 percent (3.3 million people) possess microwaves in their homes. This leaves a staggering 199 million Nigerians without freezers and approximately 215 million without microwaves. The economic disparities in Nigeria are glaring, with the World Poverty Clock reporting that 71 million people are living in extreme poverty.
Further, the Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Index paints an even grimmer picture, indicating that about 133 million Nigerians are grappling with multidimensional poverty. For many like Ronke, a resident of Lagos, financial constraints are the primary obstacle to acquiring basic household items. “I can’t buy a freezer now because of money,” she lamented. Ronke highlighted how owning a freezer would help her preserve food, making meal preparation more manageable during the week. Another resident Larry echoed similar sentiments, expressing his desire to replace a faulty microwave but citing financial limitations as a barrier.
Different residents of Lagos give their opinion on the issue.
“Having to warm my food now and then with the cost of gas is not favorable,” he explained. Grace, residing with her family, noted that a microwave could reduce their reliance on gas, but the soaring prices in the market make it a distant luxury. The inflationary pressures are evident, with the cost of household appliances skyrocketing. In May 2023, a small microwave was priced at ₦25,000, but today, the same appliance on Jumia, a leading e-commerce platform, commands a staggering ₦70,000 – surpassing Nigeria’s minimum wage of ₦30,000.
Funmi, a resident of Ado-Ekiti, shared her struggle with the high cost of freezers, leading her to spend a significant portion of her salary on daily cooking expenses. Lack of consistent power supply exacerbates the issue for many Nigerians, as they grapple with frequent blackouts, hindering them from investing in ‘basic’ household assets. Moel, living in the Isolo area of Lagos, explained their decision not to repair a damaged microwave, stating, “light is a major reason why we haven’t thought of it.”
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Wasiu Alli in Igando, Lagos, emphasized that erratic electricity in his area deterred him from purchasing a freezer or microwave, choosing to allocate his funds elsewhere due to the uncertainty of stable power supply. In all, MumZee’s revelation has become a catalyst for a broader conversation on the socio-economic challenges faced by millions of Nigerians living without essential household assets. The disparities in access to basic amenities highlight the urgent need for targeted interventions to address economic inequalities and provide better living standards for all citizens.
Nigeria Poverty Map: Website