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State of the nation: We are fed up, Nigerians tell government

By Chijioke Iremeka (Lagos); Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia); Ahmdu Baba Idris (Birnin Kebbi); Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri); Tunji Omofoye (Osogbo); Monday Osayande (Asaba); Charles Akpeji (Jalingo); Rotimi Agboluaje and Moyosore Salami (Ibadan)
02 July 2022   |   3:50 am
Nigerians from across the country are lamenting the hardships in the land, crying out for urgent measures by the government at all levels to mitigate their suffering which they said was becoming intolerable

Buhari. Photo/FACEBOOK/FemiAdeshina

‘High Cost Of Living Sending People To Graves’
• ‘All We Can See Are Hunger, Massacre, Tribalism, Looting’
• Lament Failure To Stop Killings, Kidnapping
• Seek End To ASUU Strike

Nigerians from across the country are lamenting the hardships in the land, crying out for urgent measures by the government at all levels to mitigate their suffering which they said was becoming intolerable.

They warned that failure to genuinely tackle the myriad of difficulties and deprivation the citizens are suffering could inflict dire consequences on the country in no time.

Those who spoke to The Guardian listed mass killing of innocent and defenceless Nigerians in their homes, places of worship, farms, offices and on the roads by terrorists, herdsmen and bandits; unabated kidnapping of citizens everywhere; extremely high cost of living; undermining of the education system; rising tax burden on citizens and businesses; perennially poor electricity supply amid frequent hike in tariff and decay infrastructure among the challenges making life unbearable for the people.

In Abia State, some residents said they were fed up with the situation in the country, urging President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to urgently address the sufferings of the people.

To them, the government has not been reactive enough to the allegations that kidnappings, killings and other atrocities in parts of the country are being perpetrated by herdsmen and foreigners who were imported into Nigeria, dressing and disguising as military and police personnel.

They believe that the Federal Government has not acted appropriately when it was disclosed that these terrorists operate from known bushes and forests. The Abia residents queried why the military and other security agents have not been directed to undertake combing of the bushes and forests with the support of the communities to dislodge the criminals.

They attributed the food crisis in the country to the insecurity that has threatened farming activities, and non-mechanisation as well as inaccessibility to farms due to bad roads.

The Abia people urged the government to encourage farmers by making land available for farming, procuring inputs for them, granting them loans and providing post-harvest storage/ preservation facilities.

They decried the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), wondering why the government has allegedly become unwilling or incapable of addressing the causes of the industrial action by im
implementing the agreement it signed with the university teachers.

In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, some residents lamented what they described as pernicious and parlous state of the country, with the cost of living soaring and becoming unbearable for them.

In different interactions with The Guardian across major markets and business outfits, the residents expressed displeasure over the myriad of challenges plaguing the most populous nation in Africa.

Miss Adebobola Agbeja, the Executive Director, The Young and Women Initiatives, said: “The whole thing is frustrating. It makes people want to give up. That is why people, especially the youths, are leaving the country in droves. This situation of poor or no power supply, good roads, security, jobs and other amenities is sad. You still have to cope with the dollar rate to naira soaring. The environment is not conducive for business. The cost of production is skyrocketing. That is why the sustainability of businesses is low. This is all about leadership. Unfortunately the country lacks good leadership. We need good leaders to reset Nigeria.”

A human rights lawyer, Rashidat Adesina said: “These myriad of challenges are parts of the bigger problems in the country. Nothing is actually working in Nigeria. The country is at the crossroads. The ruling class has shown that it is not capable of leading this country and solving the problems bedevilling it. Unless we push them out, the country will remain the same and we will keep on lamenting.”

To a political leader, Abiodun Bamgboye, it is the manifestation of failure of the ruling class. “It further demonstrates that the problems cannot be tackled by the capitalist system, which is using the higher chunk of the nation’s revenue to service debt. The leaders have brought the parasitic system to inflict pains and hardship on the citizens.

“The way out is to vote out the capitalist government and enthrone the socialist government that will work for the good of the workers and poor masses.”

A housewife in Ibadan, Mrs Chidinma Emmanuel, lamented that the whole system is hard and frustrating. “People are living in penury and abject lack. Honestly, the country is hard. It is frustrating. Power supply is poor. Poverty is pervasive. Joblessness has become ubiquitous. Added to all these is pervading insecurity which makes people to live in fear.

“They should improve on all those things. Also, we should vote another set of people in who will improve the country.”

A car dealer at Dekk Auto in Oke-ado, Ibadan, Samoan Adebayo, said he had been struggling to continue the business due to the high cost of clearing goods.

“The cost of clearing was N500,000 before but now it has increased to N1.2 million, which has really affected sales compared to when things were not expensive. Now, the price is very high which makes it difficult for people to purchase cars.”

He urged the government to find solutions to the issues affecting the economy.

Halimah Yusuf said as a business owner, she needed more electricity than anything. “The fact that we have light less than 48 hours a week is disturbing. Depending on fuel to run a business is even worse now because of the way scarcity and price keep fluctuating. So I have to pay people to do what I can do myself if there is no light, which increases my cost of production and reduces my profit.

“Everyone can feel the present state of insecurity. You never know if you’re at the right place at the wrong time. We are living in fear of the unknown. One minute you’re alerted that life and property are lost to one form of terrorist attack and in another minute, a stray bullet can hit you and that’s the end. Even the ones that should ensure security make things worse. You can’t feel safe around an officer of the law.

“The cost of living is also unbearable. How do you expect someone who earns the minimum wage to afford two meals per day with the way prices of food items increase every minute. It’s sickening. As at 2019, we used to buy one kg of gas for N300. Now that same kg is N850. A whopping N500 increase in less than three years! Even Garri is now a rich man’s meal. That’s how terrible prices are. Spaghetti that was N200 before is now N450. And it can’t even feed a family. ”

She added that the high cost of feeding has affected the rate at which people can get alleviated from poverty. “Because how do you even save anything when food takes it all? I feel like Nigeria isn’t working. I feel like anyone who thinks this country has plans for its citizens is just in delusion. There’s barely any good news about the country these days. Everything is terrible and sad and the government has taken the people as its enemy.”

A retired senior civil servant in Kebbi State, Alhaji Issa Koko, said President Buhari should urgently reverse and streamline the inflation rate, especially as it affects food items across the country.

Koko expressed dismay over the high rate of goods in the country, lamenting that the change in prices has led to collapse of some marriages.

He also condemned the four-month-old ASUU strike, urging the leadership of the union and the Federal Government to resolve their impasse to reduce some criminal behaviour of the students.

A former Kebbi State All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman, Alhaji Sani Dododo appealed to the government to control prices of food items for the masses to be able to feed themselves.

“People are suffering and frustrated. The government needs to do something urgently in reducing the hardships in the country,” he said.

In Lagos, a legal practitioner, Mr. Charles Aguguesi, said: “The country has continued to exist in a very bad way and has lost all the moral instructions that it was known for. Parents now teach their children how to steal from public coffers and commit all manner of crimes.

“Hunger in the land has been so heightened that people kill fellow human for peanuts. The prices of foods and services are going up every day. For instance, on Monday, I went to buy my beverages and food drinks. The Milo refill pack that I used to buy for N2, 700 now sells for N2, 900 and that is when you find it because they have stopped producing 900gm. Instead, the manufacturer produces 800gm in place of the former 900gm.

“Also, bakers in Lagos complained about the high cost of raw materials for bread baking and other groceries. They lamented that they could not transfer the cost to the end-users, yet the prices of bread and other groceries have gone up.

“How did it happen? In the end, they added the cost for the consumers and still reduce the quantity of the bread. The bread used to sell for N400, and from there, it got to N450 and now it is N500. Yet the size is less than what it used to be.

“My family likes bread and it cost me a lot to buy bread in the house now. I spend over N1, 500, every day on bread alone because it must not be missing in the house. It is tough this time. I am tired of this country called Nigeria where people are educated but are still illiterates.

“Election is around the corner and people are still talking about bringing dead woods and criminals to rule the living in a country that is dead already. I’m fed up with this country.

“I have never thought of travelling abroad but now, travelling out of this country has become the hallmark of everything I do. I am tired of this country. It’s sad that Buhari wasn’t what we thought he was. So sad.”

A father of four, Mr. Gibson Okon, who is a graduate transporter, lamented that prices of petroleum products have gone up unprecedented, especially engine oil, which he said affects him mostly.

“I am 45 years old today but I am yet to know what this country represents. All that I can see are hunger, wanton killings, tribalism, jungle justice, crimes, looting and a high-profile crime against the people.

“At a point, I had the high hope that the country would be better in my own time but seeing what played out in the APC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary elections this year, I felt there is no hope for the country. There is a lot of evil and impunity taking place in this country without anybody questioning them.

“Buhari has messed up this country big time and all that he has done, is more damage than good. Whatever you buy at the market, the price will not be the same again when you go back.

“How has our election become so commercialised? How possible is it that criminals are now the people ruling the non-criminals? Political thieves are everywhere. The engine oil I used to buy in small bottle water containers for N500 is now N1000. I don’t see any hope for the country.”

Residents of Imo State, who spoke to The Guardian, lamented what they referred to as “unbearable hardships and insecurity.”

They essentially complained about the killing of their loved ones by gunmen and security operatives, high cost of foodstuff and other items and hike in intra and inter-city fares, calling for quick intervention of the government at all levels to ameliorate their sufferings.

According to a social commentator and proponent of good governance, Duru Daniels, many people have been consigned to one meal per day.

“Under the present administration, Nigerians have suffered more than ever before. People now find it difficult to buy what they need to eat. They hardly can afford the school fees for their children. Many innocent citizens have been killed by gunmen. Go to Orlu, you can hardly find any young man there. They have all run away because of the rate of killings going on there.

“This is not the democracy we all yearned for. These have to stop now. The large military personnel brought in by the state governor cannot solve the problem. The issue is that people are suffering and they want food on their tables. They want good governance. Till this moment, the strike by ASUU is still going on almost five months and no end in sight. This is ridiculous,” Daniels lamented.

Geo Akubi, an artisan, in his lamentation, said he found it difficult to feed his family of three children and wife.

His words: “Things are too difficult more than before. Prices are too high in the market. One can hardly buy foodstuff. You will be there watching your children crying from hunger. We eat once or twice nowadays. We are begging our leaders to help us. Nigeria, we are told, is the giant of Africa. Intra-city transport is now N150. Where lies the giant in it now?”

A resident of Orlu, where insecurity and killings are allegedly more perpetrated, Johnson, piqued that the younger ones have run away to the bushes and other villages for fear of the killings and wanton destruction of property by gunmen and security personnel.

“We are asking the governor of Imo State to withdraw the military they deployed everywhere in Orlu. They are not sparing people. Everywhere is deserted in the area. No economic activities going on there. People have run away, especially, the youths. Before 4 or 5 p.m., everyone has gone to bed. For how long will this persist? We are suffering a lot,” he said.

A retired public servant in Osun State, Olayemi Adeola described the level of insecurity and increasing cost of living in the country as ridiculous and frustrating. He said that even as a senior citizen, escalating cost of commodities, electricity, petrol and gas had compounded his meagre income. “I now find it difficult to make ends meet due to the ugly situation. My brother, I don”t know how we can continue with the rising prices of goods. We have decided to stop the use of gas, what my family does is to change to charcoal for cooking in the house, and funny enough, the price of the commodity has also gone up. We cannot afford the half bag we used to buy, we have resorted to buying it in smaller quantity.”

The retired official said he bad abandoned the little farming he does to augment the family income because of Fulani herdsmen who attack and kidnap farmers in their farms.

A notable politician who craved for anonymity lamented that the naira has lost its value in view of the situation whereby people spend so much to get little quantity of goods in return. According to him, the high cost of goods and services has always distorted the family budget

He said the protracted strike by ASUU is worsening the economic challenges facing the family because two of his children in the university have been at home instead of attending to their studies. He said it was unthinkable that while the economy is in poor shape, Nigerians still don’t feel safe in their homes or while travelling.

“I think the Federal Government should take frantic measures to revive the economy and tackle the worsening security challenges in the country.”

A teacher, Reno Oguntoye, said high electricity bill had thrown her family into darkness for months. Staffers of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company had to disconnect their cable when the family could not meet up with payment of the high bill. “We struggle to sustain ourselves due to the high cost of living. We can no longer afford to eat regularly as we used to in the past.”

National President of Rights and Anti-corruption Forum of Nigeria and Lead Activist of Young Nigerians Rights Organization, Ojie Victor Obianuju blamed the Federal Government for the high cost of living in Nigeria.

Obianuju, a former intelligence officer of the International Human Rights Commission lamented that nothing is working in the country as “inflation is riding in high across the board.”

“High times are here as things are not very easy for an average Nigerian because inflation has seriously set in without government putting in measures to check it”.

According to him, inflation is going up but the government and private sector have failed to compensate it with increase in wages. The young activist expressed dismay that the government could turn its eyes away from the hardship Nigerians are going through without any move whatsoever to fix the economy.

“The APC government has failed woefully. They came with a lot of hope, promising heaven and earth but done nothing. In fact, nothing is working in Nigeria today,” he declared

Obianuju said the current hardship had pushed him to the wall to the extent that “I have to close my laundry and movie businesses since I couldn’t meet up with customers’ demand”.

He therefore tasked government to wake up from it slumber and address the issue of insecurity, fix price for goods as well as “make electricity work for the masses before we found ourselves in the grave”.

He also advised government to checkmate the spate of insecurity by giving approval to arms bearing by the citizens since it has failed to secure lives and properties of the people.

For Marachin Oyendicahin, the country is really hard and nobody feels good about it.

“A lot of people are suffering. I mean, the rich are also crying. Today in Nigeria, we are hard hit by the economy. In the market, prices of goods have increased drastically. It is the same with transportation, accommodation and what have you”.

The young graduate said she was highly disoriented with the way things are in the country “because my salary no longer carry me, and I’m feeling very bad about it”.

Oyendicahin advised the government to do the needful by working on the economy, providing jobs for the graduates and reducing the prices of goods for the comfort of average Nigerians.

Residents of Taraba State prayed that irrespective of religious and political affiliations, God should give the country a leader after His heart.

They said the prayer became necessary following the hike in prices of goods and services, and insecurity that have continued to give pains to the people.

Citing how they have been going to bed with their eyes widely opened, the people of Taraba said they are now constantly on their kneels praying fervently for God’s intervention.

According to them, both the haves and the have-nots have admitted that the country has never had it bad like it is under this administration.

Even members of the APC who spoke to The Guardian in Taraba state, noted that the country under the current administration has been bedeviled with hardships.

A chieftain of the party who would not want his name made public, said: “My brother, I must confess to you that we are all feeling the pain that this current administration has brought on us.”

Both consumers and sellers at the various markets visited also have their sad stories to tell. They expressed concern over the current high prices of foodstuffs, cooking gas and accommodation, among others, urging the government to intensify measures to address the situation.

“The situation is making life unbearable for the people. It has become so intense that an average family of four or five now requires double of the amount of money it used to take to feed in a month to feed the same number of members”.

On insecurity, they stressed the need for the government at the centre to rise up to its responsibility and checkmate the activities of hoodlums.

The state chairman of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Ishaya Magaji Jirapye, believed that the government at the centre is not doing enough to tackle insecurity.

Some monarchs who also spoke to The Guardian felt sad that the state and the country at large have been taken over by bandits.

On Thursday this week, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced plan to hold a one-day national protest to force the Federal Government to meet the demands of the striking university unions.

According to the congress, the planned action is a result of the realisation that there is no progress in the negotiation between the Federal Government and ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists towards ending the industrial action that has kept university students out of school since February this year.

At the opening of the National Executive Council meeting of the NLC in Abuja, the President, Ayuba Wabba directed that all the affiliate unions of the NLC should be notified of the planned nationwide protest next week.