Many Nigerians are economically in bad shape because of bad economy arising from unemployment, escalation of prices of goods and services. The prices of food items like garri, rice, tomatoes, yams, etc are sky rocketing. They are not within the reach of the poor. Even middle class is diminishing very fast. When the middle class cannot buy new tyres to replace the old tyres, you come to know the feeling of people over these sacrifices. The poor are singing lamentation songs every day. Many people today cannot use their cars every day because of the cost of fuel. Increase of fuel affects everything. It will affect people bringing food from the town. The farmer will increase his price, and then the trader will increase his price because of transportation cost. Electricity is another big bang and a heavy obstacle on the manufacturing sector, small scale industries, iron benders and the host of others. People spend more money on gen- erators that give them light as well as high cost of electricity. Modern technology has made us disregard firewood for gas to cook.
For the poor, kerosene has taken the place of wood or charcoal stoves. Kerosene is scarce and the price has risen. Everything is high, and high. The change promised them is austerity measure and it has been endured for years. Most super markets are empty because the exchange rate is high. The naira is nothing to be proud of now. The economic catastrophe is the cause of our severe sacrifice facing us. I am sure Structural Adjustment Program is fresh in the minds of many Nigerians. Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) was introduced during Babangida’s regime. Prof. Jerry Gana was the prophet that prophesied it and he became an instrument of making it work in Nigeria. As a powerful speaker he made many Nigerians believe the doctrine of manser that had only placebo effect on people. He indoctrinated us to believe in manser and told us that when something is expensive we should not buy; the doctrine of manser. Nigerians endured a lot and sacrificed a lot at that time.
Today our sacrifices are costing us our life. A man in an empty stomach cannot work well or listen to the preacher on Sunday in an empty stomach. The cost of sacrifice is great during this regime, the regime that ignores what is happening. Change cannot be sacrifice. Change can never be a substitute for sacrifice. We are experiencing a CHANGE to NEXT LEVEL of suffering and insecurity. There is a time table of austerity in the family. Some people may not eat in the morning, not even in the afternoon but in the night. Some may not eat at all. House rent is so high that occupants die out of hypertension. Many children stay at home because their parents have not paid their school fees. This may add more misery when there is no food in the home. It seems that structural Adjustment programme with a new face has landed in Nigeria. What we are experiencing now is what Nigerians experienced during the time of Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). But in this time, insecurity is sky-rocketing. History is cyclical; it repeats itself. One thing I love about Nigerians is that they have the heart to endure and also complain.
Complain to who? If nobody hears, what can you do? And the answer is, where can we go from now? If no answer, we will take it as the trend in politics of today, the politics of rhetoric that has flogged us to believe what we do not see. Nigerians are so enduring and sacrificing that they suffer and still smile in their predicaments. Like Fela; the Musician sang “SUFFERING AND SMILING”. We are already immune to hardships. Nothing bothers or breaks us. We virtually provide everything for ourselves, even the basic amenities. We do not care if we have a govern- ment. Politicians are taking advantage of these our weaknesses and treat us anyhow. News of corrupt politicians doesn’t move us because many have lost faith in the justice system. We keep getting heart bleeding news regularly but dismiss them with a wave of hands. We do not stand for our rights and avoid saying the truth in order not to hurt anyone. Our sacrificing attitude enhances poor accountability and the rot in the system.
Everyone struggles to get into power and grab their own share of the National cake to compensate them for years of suffering. Since everyone has been suffering, who do you think would stop the grabbing? Many have even teased that living and surviving in Nigeria alone is a whole lot of pressure experience and should be included in the CV. This is a painful reality! The economy is messed up. The economy is the key issue to these problems. Bouncing economy helps to alleviate suffering and brings about healthy living. During the regime of Gowon, the economy was bouncing he said he did not know what to do with money and now where is the money? What took us to this trend? The managers of our economy after Gowon brought about this. They stopped regulation of foreign exchange by Central bank thereby making it every comer’s affair. Bristol Hotel became Central bank for illegal dealings. This was where water entered into oil and now everybody has the power to buy and sell Dollar. The managers of the economy have turned the economy to Oyingbo market.
Political drama is all over us. Politicians cannot provide answer to many of our problems. We are still looking for the new Moses and the country is tearing apart. When our new Moses comes, life will be better and there will be no more suffering imposed on us by the leaders who hoard our money at our own expense. Can Nigeria be Africa’s economic hub or giant again? We hope Nigeria will not be like Zim- babwe who was rocked by food crisis and its currency had no economic power. Nigeria is under the watchful eye of the world; they are watching its collapse or disintegration. If Nigeria cannot manage her differences accurately – the restructuring they are talking about – the western world will say, “We predicted it and you did not believe it.”
• Very Rev. Msgr. Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and is Social Justice and Peace Advocate.