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Angst as Nigerians feel pains of increasing hard times


Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

These are not the best of times in Nigeria. Long before July 21, 2016, when the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, officially confirmed that the country was ‘technically in recession,’ it had been an arduous battle for survival for citizens, organizations and governments at all tiers.

The first half of the year was rough.

In spite of government’s assurances, Nigerians weathered the storm, bracing the challenge of petroleum scarcity, epileptic power supply amid increase in electricity tariff, removal of subsidy on petrol, hike in cost of food, goods and services, unprecedented scarcity of tomatoes, skyrocketing exchange rate of the naira to a dollar, backlog of unpaid salaries and mass retrenchment of workers.

Government kept repeating that the tide would turn once the 2016 budget was passed and the second half of the year would be better for the country and its citizens.

President Muhammadu Buhari eventually signed the budget on May 6, raising the hopes of turnaround with the injection of government funds across critical sectors of the economy.

With four months left in the year, it’s a stark reality of a depressed economy staring Nigerians in the face as strange things are reported daily.

Organized and petty crimes have been on the increase, unsecured pots of soup have become endangered species, sale of human blood and organs for economic reasons is rife, and frustrations have given rise to rampant cases of domestic violence, child abuse and suicide.

The hunger is so widespread that poultry farmers confess to skipping meals for their birds as the cost of feed has risen by 100 per cent.

Even in the president’s home state of Katsina recently, there was a massive scramble for unwholesome grain when the truck conveying bags of the suspected poisonous grains for destruction broke down in a village.

When persuasion failed, authorities had to engage the help of task force to retrieve some of the poisoned grains in a bid to avoid devastating consequences.

The new economic reality is affecting the lifestyle of Nigerians.

Today, an exchange of pleasantries is incomplete without the word ‘Change’ in reference to the evocative slogan that brought the present administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to power.

The standard reply to any untoward situation in the country is ‘Chanji’, the street version of APC’s motto – change.

A public affairs commentator based in Kano State, Aminu Muhammad Ofs, last week recounted his experience of the times, which has gone viral on social media.

He said: “I was sitting with a guy who sells tea when an elderly man came and said ‘Give me ‘Buhari’s mixture’. Without saying anything more, the man was given some tea and small bread for a sum of N40.
I was baffled, so I asked the seller what the man meant by ‘Buhari’s mixture’. He explained that it means tea without milk plus a small loaf of bread.

“Again the next day, I stopped by a small kiosk to get a battery for my wireless computer mouse. While I was leaving, a guy came who said: ‘Give me Buhari and Osinbajo. I waited to see what he meant and the seller handed him garri and groundnut.

“I inquired from the seller, who explained that garri is the street term for President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is groundnut, while Senate President Bukola Saraki is sugar, slang for the staple foods the poor can afford.”

Before now, Lagos State was often referred to the city that never sleeps, because it is known for its hustle and bustle from dawn to dusk.

The wind of recession has blown all that away.

The bustling nightlife is disappearing in the Centre of Excellence, as the city practically shuts down and becomes a ghost town once it is 10p.m., even on weekends.

Due to the harsh economic conditions in the country, Nigerians have developed some clever methods of dealing with the tough circumstances.

According to a public opinion survey by NOIPolls, released on August 10, 2016, 97 per cent of the respondents said the recent economic realities have had a negative effect on the wellbeing of the average Nigerian.

Some survival methods discovered by the polls include cutting down on household expenses and luxury items, resorting to prayers and hoping for a miracle, engaging in subsistence farming, adjusting feeding patterns in place of the regular three-square meals.

A businessman, Emeka Obinna told The Guardian that he has had to adjust the feeding patterns of his family.
“I have a family of six, with several other dependents. That’s the only way we are managing to survive. No more three-square meals. It is either breakfast and dinner, or lunch and dinner. So, it is the 1-0-1, 1-1-0 or 0-1-1 formula I am operating now with the little resources at my disposal,” he said.

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  • Dahiru Ali

    So why no word on what the government is doing to get the economy out of recession? Or nothing?

    • ben

      okay, good quest.

    • Mohammed Tanko

      Because there is nothing.

      Don’t you all realise that this government is inept at leadership and completely clueless at every other matter?

      Buhari has NO business being President in this 21st century. We know this. Everyone of us, unless we want to deceive ourselves. Tribalism and religiousity has pushed Nigeria to its present situation. We will get out of it by beginning to tell the truth to ourselves.

  • Asuk

    This government has more excuses than solutions.

  • Philip Tudor

    Truth be told, we all feel it, no one is immune to the situation of this country, but alas, whose fault is it that we are where we are? We are all to blame for our current situation. When all came, we were all ready to forget that our fathers never relied on oil, yet our economy was the greatest in Africa, Nigeria was known for its cocoa plantation, groundnut pyramids, tourist attraction, bronze crafts etc etc, today what are we known for? Bombing, kidnapping, stealing, embezzling, imposing huge levies and fines that businesses cant grow and foreign investors cant invest and so many other things that we have been doing to gradually kill the economy. The problem we face in Nigeria now did not start today, it did not start when Buhari came in, it started when we left other sources of growing this economy and feasted on OIL. Its obvious that oil is a curse, it has made our old men greedy and our youths lazy, it has made our women materialistic and young ladies too self conscious to know whats right from wrong. Everyone wants to work either in an oil company or a bank, what about agriculture? Mining? Bronze crafting? what happens to our tourist attraction sites? We have lost our way Nigerians, its high time we wake up and smell the roses, if we want to build a good future for our children and our children’s children we have to start now, change does not start with Buhari or his administration, its begins with you and I.

  • Samuel admas

    Painting out the fact and over looking the cause is not a solution or a direct approach to handling a situation. Either which way, we all caused this present crisis, we were all thinking of the individual and our fat purses and everybody looked away from other sustainable source and focused on oil, the oil that’s just 13% of the nations resources. Well this economic crunch should help jump our minds as individuals, let’s work with this govt at focusing on non-oil productiveness and stop complaining or pushing blames, let’s look at the bright side as it’s even an opportunity for everybody.

  • loko efe

    Before this clueless government came on board they had all the solutions to the challenges and problems of this country but today they only have more than enough excuses to solve the problems.

  • Ify Onabu

    Self inflicted wound, but too late. Did we not warn Nigerians before the elections that Buhari has nothing to offer? Our people in Delta say that when a woman has been married to two husbands, she is in position to decide which of them is better. I am convinced that Nigerians would have preferred to live with Jonathan as President than with a clueless dictator. Sai Baba!

  • Facebook User

    Our leaders come from amongst us and so are a taster of who we are. Patience and perseverence is required because the days of high Oil prices are gone whether it is Buhari, Jonathan, Babangida, Shagari, Murtala, Gowon, Azikiwe, Lugard in charge. Nigeria has not seen the level of suffering that Americans, British people endured to fashion the societies that suit them which we wish to fast-track. We need to look inside ourselves to begin making individual internal adjustments to have the character we want our leaders to have. If we want our future leaders to fold their hands, curse and complain, then let us do that. If we want them to strive for excellence, value the people and be positive, then let each of us do this everyday, all the time. If we want them to cut corners to get results that look good with no substance, oya let us behave like so. We each have a choice whether to lead ourselves so that we can in turn recognise true leadership, without feeling compromised. If not for ourselves, then for the children.

  • Mizch

    Next time let them be wary of self-proclaimed messiahs.

  • Philip Tudor

    We are blaming everyone else but fail to blame those who are really responsible for our present situation. Ourselves, we are all to blame for where we are today, not the past administrations or the present, but we the Nigerian people. When we had enough, we spent and squandered like kings and queens, failing to realize that even kings and queens saved and invested, but we went through all we had like the world would end that day, now we are blaming this present administration for our problem. Its time we wake up and smell the roses, instead of sitting in our individual homes blaming everyone but those really responsible, lets suggest ways to improve our economy.

  • el rey

    Nigerians voted for tribalism and not the reality of life in the country. APC was happing on tribe PDP being an Eastern party while the hawks in APC used southwest newspapers including Nation, Punch, Tribune and TVC to portray PDP as Ijaw made surrounded by Igbos in his cabinet. Their change mantra and phoney promises including tinubus million man march ceased tribalism and weeped up religious sentiment in the north. The got what they want and nigerians are paying seriously for these deception. The man the elected as President belongs to the military barracks and have no purpose to better nigerian economic situation. Blame all these on yoruba and their tribal politics of hating everything from the East. They are now in govt but not in power and want all federal jobs for their ethnic men and women. They have gradually destroyed nigeria and its economy. They should take all the blame for all these.