By; U.K. Umar
People are suffering. Families are finding it increasingly hard to feed. There is no money, prices of basic stuffs have gone all-time high. People find it extremely difficult to move around. A lot can’t travel. Traders, mechanics, commercial drivers, printers, consumers, everybody is feeling the heat!
Today, people with families to feed are at the risk of rising blood pressure and other related ailments such nervous system breakdown.
People are confused. They can’t tell what’s keeping them going anymore. Hope, that thing that makes a poor man say “e go better” even in the face of daunting challenges, is fast loosing it’s time-honoured soothing magic. Hence, the masses don’t know whether it’s hope or helplessness that is their strength. There is force in helplessness. It makes one resign to fate. What will be will be.
I was in Bida, my hometown in Niger State, over the weekend. A Nupe man was said to have gone to the market. He went to a trader’s shop and picked a small bag of Semovita. He made to leave and was stopped by the shop owner who demanded payment. The man got furious and screamed at the top of his voice “I don’t have any money on me to pay. My family and I can’t die because I can’t buy them food. You would have to let me go with this bag of semo. As soon as I have money, I will pay.”
Before long, people gathered. Some accused the man of stealing. A lot more were on his side. They blamed his action on the biting economic situation in the country.
As the commotion went on, an Igbo trader sought for silence. He then brought out some money and asked the crowd to contribute whatever they can to help the man. In a matter of minutes, they had gathered more than the price of the small bag of semo. The once angry man was happy and grateful to the Igbo man and the crowd. Happy because he left the market with more than a small bag of Semo.
I also heard, on a popular TV station, of a woman somewhere in Ekiti, who ‘stole’ a pot of Amala from the fire. The astonished owner traced her pot of food to a nearby house. She saw her pot of Amala being shared by a mother to her children who were using palm oil to eat it. When confronted, the guilty woman said her children have been starving for days because she couldn’t provide food. Overwhelmed by pity, the speechless owner went back to her house and fetched the pot of soup for the Amala and handed it to the woman and her children.
Have you also heard of “white okro soup”? It’s now in vogue. A female colleague told me of how she couldn’t afford to put any form of oil in her okro soup. When her curious children asked “mummy, what type of soup is this?” She replied “It’s called ‘white okro’.” the children enjoyed the soup for its name.
Ordinary Nigerians are united in their sufferings and struggles.
Long years of oppression and deprivation have created more common grounds of relationships among the surviving people. Politics, that ugly brand of politics that constantly seek to divide and rule, has remained a threat to every other thing that is good about us. But this is not the focus of this piece.
I am not an economist. So I will not come here and pretend, with high sounding economic English while explaining “inflation”, “deflation”, “foreign exchange”, “Naira-Dollar depreciation/appreciation” recession, or whatnot. Even if I do know and explain these things, it will add up to nothing in the meantime. What is glaring and understandable is that, Nigerians, I mean millions of poor Nigerians, who had hoped that things would really “change” for the better are watching their situations slide from bad to worse daily. As it seems, respite is far from sight.
Some people have continued to explain that these trying times are expected characteristics of the changing paradigms of governance. Some say “they are teething problems”. Again, there are others who insist that “Nigerians must make the needed sacrifice (by enduring hardships) for the type of CHANGE they yearn for”.
We understand. Nigerians have always being the ones to make sacrifices for the foreigners ruling them. Our politicians and their appointees are foreigners. They don’t live in our world. We are thousands of miles apart on the scale of existential realities. Our problems are not their problems. Hence our tears give them smiles. We are different!
But of course, we understand. We understand the need for patience too. After all, what’s the difference between patience and patients? We’ve been patients all along. We have been surviving on the vestiges (remnants) left for us after the chunk of our national earnings are legally shared among the opportunistic few (foreigners) who run the government. Not that they let us have the remnants meant for us in full. No. They steal from it as much as they have the chance to.
We praise them for their thievery of our remnant. We insult them if they don’t steal from it. Yet we expect them to deliver the worth of the remnants allotted to us. Are we not patients? Patients of our fortunes? This also, is a topic for another piece.
This is just to tell ourselves that even as we are being asked to be patient/patients, we must give voice to our realities – hard biting realities. Things are not easy. Nigerians are suffering.
Foreigners (our politicians) are not. They must cease the hypocrisy of “I feel your pains”. You are not in our world. Don’t add salt to our self-inflicted injury.
Umar is a prolific writer and an on-air personality. He can be reacehd at firstname.lastname@example.org
By; U.K. Umar