There is no time for greetings today. Country is hard.
When Nigerians say country is hard, it is not the lack of power; for we are used to that. We know the colour of darkness. That is what happens when you are thrown in darkness for days and then have to pay for “the darkness” at the end of the month.
When Nigerians say country is hard, it is when they carry their money—their “hard earned money”—to the petrol station to buy fuel and they have to queue. No, you do not queue alone; you push, you shove, you curse. Then, if you are lucky, you get the fuel at N120 per litre or N130 per litre, get down on the ground and thank your stars, or the gods of your forefathers who were with you that day.
If you are unlucky, the pump will dry out when it is at the mouth of your fuel tank or jerry can, then go home and throw away the soap you used to bathe that day. It is not good for your head. But wait, how much is soap again?
When Nigerians say country is hard, it is not the lack of water or security, or every other thing that government should do for us. For in Nigeria, each household is a local government to itself. Let us go to the market so that you will understand what it means.
The last time I was at the market, the price of everything had gone up. The products are speaking in several languages—not Nigerian languages. They are not even patriotic. Let me tell you what some of them were saying.
A carton of spaghetti which I bought last at N2, 020 now costs N3, 100. Unit price has shot up from N110 to 160/170, depending on who you buy from.
A 10 litre keg of vegetable oil which I bought for N3, 200 now goes for N5, 200.
A carton of Nigerian-made digestive biscuits used to be N950; it is now N1, 200.
Please do not ask me what tomatoes said. I did not understand the language of those ones. There is no N50 tomato in the market again; where will you find it? Everything is from N100, N200 and N500. And the N100 ones are not more than five. If it is just the number, I won’t be ranting but most of them look so scrawny as if they need a touch of your “change”.
Me, I have found a solution to those tomatoes. I balance them out with tin tomatoes. It is not as if those ones are not expensive too, but since that is what change has brought to my cooking pot, I will live with it.
The market women had frowns on their faces: “No market, my sister.” “Please just buy, no matter how small, let me sell market today.”
When Nigerians say country is hard, it is because the transportation fare has gone up beyond what their pockets can bear. In Ibadan for example, which by the way has really ridiculously cheap transportation fares compared to many other cities, the drivers now do shakara. They will just zoom past you and hiss saying “o de l’oowo lofe. Ab’ofe ni mo ra epo ni?” This means “why not just carry it for free? Did I buy fuel for free?”
But Nigeria is not even that hard if you have money o! At least you can push, and shove, and bargain, or reduce the size of your “list” to get what you need.
What about those who are being owed five-months salaries? They are not paid and they still go to work everyday! How do they even do it? They are miracle workers—for it is just like driving a car on an empty fuel tank, or withdrawing money from an ATM when your account is empty. But you see, in Nigeria miracles happen. Your sitting at Aso Rock today is also a miracle, you must admit.
Their state governors on the other hand are magicians. They expect that with a wave of the magic wand, bailouts will fly down on a mat or on a broom stick into their state accounts. Sighs!. It is only magic that can make that possible, especially when it is obvious that even the Federal Government needs a bailout.
So, you see. Our lives are tougher these days. And you still have three years to go. Many are asking if this is the change that you promised us.
But like a true Nigerian, I believe in miracles. I hope that tomorrow will be better than today. “Better” in this case, does not mean “harder”. Let me just clarify.