By Eddington Obaro Jonathan
IF you reside in Nigeria and you are not planning to leave the country anytime soon or to be actively involved in the politics of the nation, just take a shovel, dig your own grave, and wait patiently for the year 2035. In 2035, a dollar will be worth a thousand naira or more because our economic experts will have succeeded in devaluing the naira beyond redemption in a bid to rescue the economy.
Of course, political thugs and fanatics who help to subvert the will of the people do not care about exchange rate because they do not even know how it affects their lives and personal comfort. However, Nigerians who perform international transactions will understand the nadir of suffering Nigeria will have sunk to by the year 2035.
In the next 10 or 15 years, a custard rubber of garri will cost about N4,000. A bag of sachet water will cost about N500. Asmall pack of seasoning cubes will cost over N1,500. A bag of rice will be worth close to N80,000 or more. A bag of cement will cost about N8,000 or N10,000. Only God knows how much a gallon of palm oil or vegetable oil will cost.
No doubt, the good leaders we have will have quadrupled the price of petrol, and the crazy transporters will have multiplied transport fare by Godknows-what. If you are expecting to see light in any part of this tunnel, you probably need to dream again because government institutions of higher learning will have increased their fees to about half a million naira or more.
On top of these, our good governors will still be deliberating whether their states are capable of paying a minimum wage of N50,000 or N60,000. In countries like Canada, there is an estimated two percent annual inflation rate. This means that the prices of goods and services are expected to increase by two percent every year.
In these countries, employers increase the salaries of their employees by a minimum of two percent yearly to meet the inflation rate. In our beloved country, Nigeria, according to statistical data published by the CBN, our annual inflation rate has been higher than eleven percent since 2016. In January 2021, the prices of food items rose by 20.57 per cent.
Yet one can work in Nigeria for 10 years without a single increment in one’s salary. The result is quite simple and disheartening: societal forces are bent on ensuring that you become poorer every year as your purchasing power continues to wane as the years go by. By the year 2035, ASUU will have gone on strike for countless number of times. Our Labour comrades will be laughing secretly with their friends in the corridors of power.
Snakes will still be swallowing billions in government offices. Stamp Duty (or whatever name it is called) will have been trippled. Arewa will be complaining of being marginalised. Afenifere will be complaining too. Niger Deltans will still be seeing their Northern brothers as the only reason for their poverty. IPOB and MASSOB will be calling all the world powers to come to their aid.
Boko Haram will have bombed more public places. Herdsmen and bandits will have ravaged and killed more people and will have extended their school children abduction to the Southern part of the country. Niger Delta militants will have fully returned and will be enacting war films. A new security enigma will have emerged, one that is greater than herdsmen and Boko Haram put together, and we will be seeking help from China, America, Russia or Israel.
Billions of dollars will have been budgeted for arms’ purchase, and our kind Generals will have used the money judiciously “to buy weapons”, weapons that the foot soldiers will never see. And while they will be popping champagne in Abuja, the helpless soldiers will be wasting their lives in a dense jungle. Anyway, more money will have been borrowed from China to service our annual budgets, and 70 percent of that money will have been stolen by those who borrowed the money at the expense of the country.
The concept of pension and gratuity will long have been forgotten because we will have extended our borrowing to every nook and cranny of the world, including countries like Niger, Benin Republic, Togo, Chad and Cameroun. The National Assembly will have probed some agencies, commissions or ministries, and some persons will have fainted right in the process of the probe and flown to London, India or Saudi Arabia for treatment, and the cases will have been swept under the carpet just like the NDDC probe of 2020 because money will have exchanged hands or hands will have exchanged money.
A senator’s salary will have surpassed the N100 million benchmark which they appear to have set for themselves while the rest of the country will be wondering how we got here or what we did wrong. Most of the brilliant and experienced doctors will have migrated to places where doctors are well taken care of, and we will be left with the ones who are still struggling with injection.
Most of our first class and second class upper graduates will have gained scholarship for postgraduate studies in the US, Canada, Germany, Norway, Australia or any other country magnanimous enough to encourage their academic pursuit, and they will have remained there even after their postgraduate studies. After all, nobody will ignore the option of living a “soft life” and opt for a hard life. No wonder Donald Trump said that Nigerians will not “go back to their huts” in Africa.
In the year 2035, Dangote’s refinery will have been completed and will be running in full capacity, and all our refineries will have been sold to him at a meagre sum in the name of privatisation, and we will be suffering the pangs of monopoly. Electricity will still be going and coming or coming and going like it has always been, and power distribution companies will still be issuing obnoxious, estimated bills. And if you think that all these problems are because the man at the centre is Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Christian or Muslim, then you might need to take some sedatives so you can have some very nice sleep and purge your devilishly tribalistic mind of all tribal and religious sentiments.
There are only two tribes in Nigeria – the rich and the poor. If you are not rich, then you are poor: there is no middle ground. Our political elites have always used tribalism and religion to separate us as a people because our unity will bring an end to their reign. That was why heavens fell during the EndSARS protest. In the words of the controversial French thinker, Joseph de Maistre: “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’ellemerite”, which is translated thus: “Every nation has the government it deserves.” But do we deserve the leaders that have been ruling us from inception? Did we deserve Gowon, IBB, Abacha, OBJ, GEJ and our frail General? Do we deserve the killers of unarmed protesters and embezzlers of our commonwealth?
Jonathan teaches English Language and Literature at Chokhmah International Academy, Port Harcourt.