By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
Many are leaving. Japa is the word. Those who can’t or who choose to stay bear the brunt. The cost of living in Nigeria is rising. A big packet of milk sold for N4000 in 2020. Today, it sells for almost N10,000. They say milk is food for the rich. But what about maize.
A medium-sized roasted cob sold for N50 naira last year but now sells for N200 naira. Common agbado! Diesel generators have fallen into disuse. Even the rich can’t buy diesel. It’s so bad banks have cut down working hours to save costs. Perhaps technology and no cash policy has helped. Banks that espoused effizzy.
But the actual cost of living in Nigeria isn’t found in the exorbitant prices of basic commodities alone. It is also located in the gradual pauperization of the middle class by sprinting inflation. I mean making them, doctors, nurses, lecturers, the non-thieving ones, and their lives actually eligible for government subsidies. Besides economics, the harsh cost of living in Nigeria can also be found in the normalization of absurdities. The sterilization of consciences. Bent minds.
Our revenue streams are weak, and debts are piling up. To engage in any muscular activity, the government has two options: borrow or print. The naira is tumbling, and with it, the actual worth of properties and services. Professionals who live in Nigeria must feel increasingly humiliated. Because the argument that they choose home to enjoy the weather, culture and foods now makes no sense.
The corrupt fuel subsidy program has made sure our national pockets are perforated. They retain nothing. Crude oil prices are high, but the combination of the fuel subsidy haemorrhage and grand oil theft has left us poorer. So poor that we can’t meet the basic demands of long-suffering university lecturers. So our university students are at home watching their governors globetrot to London to hold routine political meetings. Living in Nigeria costs tons of patience.
Patience is needed to endure the political charlatanism of our leaders. Patience is required to watch hired crowds cheer bumbling politicians. Patience is needed to watch illiterate apprentice musicians march around with scarce policemen as bag carriers while bandits force the closure of schools. To live happily in Nigeria, you might need to be a clown.
Being a clown or borrowing the mindset of a stand-up comedian might allow one to find humour in ignorance and crimes. Because every day, a Nigerian will witness senior prophets making childish prophecies. The bishops who once warned the country that the 5G technology was designed to cripple the world are now buying it for their churches. If one thinks like a clown, he might not flinch when he notices huge crowds still following these bishops about. It’s healthy to be a clown in Nigeria. Because some of those who follow and eagerly await the new prescriptions of these anti-5G bishops are the most strident social critics in the country.
Some say Nigeria is a cruise. The cost of living in Nigeria includes insidious acculturation to a miracle mentality. Even the most hardworking Nigerian knows that in Nigeria, people ‘blow’ overnight, and he longs for magical elevations. Ingrained in the Nigerian psyche is the idea that those who need to work too hard are those who haven’t found great favour with men in power. So even in the most sacred circles, you hear the same things in beer parlours. “Deals”… “make it “… “connections “… “settlement”… . This mentality has left many gifted children of the upper class idle and lazy, living cushioned lives, hopping from one deal to another, failing to utilize life talents.
If you live in Nigeria, then you will be drawn into many vanities. You will attend elaborate graduation ceremonies for children in nursery school. Your wardrobe will be filled with a thousand asoebis. Including the ones used to welcome politicians from foreign trips. You will receive awards for achieving nothing. Fake life isn’t just the life of the average university girl who denies her poor parents and her place of residence, it includes professors and judges aspiring to live like businessmen. Never mind that in Rivers state, everybody claims to ‘an honourable’; in Nigeria, you are actually tasked to watch honourable people perpetually doing dishonourable things.
Therefore, the cost of living in Nigeria for the young mind is comprehensively exorbitant. In the university, he learns ‘sorting’ and sex-for-grades. On graduation, he goes to Abuja to loiter and learn that employment in the federal civil service can be bought and that the juicy agencies cost more than five cows. He might not join others to buy employment from the government, but that knowledge takes away from his youthful innocence and dents him psychologically. If he turns out morally stunted, the blame would be laid on the internet and easy access to pornography. But as damaging as pornography and drug addiction might be, they pale in significance to the decadence imposed on young minds by the indolence and corruption they witness in government and politics. Isn’t impunity perhaps the greatest enemy of the growing mind? The very absence of consequences for even the most egregious conduct in public life.
The cost of living in Nigeria includes being forced to watch men and women defecate in the open. Including some of those danfo drivers who jump down from their buses, in matted traffic, to pee in the middle of busy roads. But while defecating in the open is stark indecency, the rampant presence of the mentally deranged roaming the streets naked dehumanizes the sane.
Blooming terrorism, banditry and kidnapping are fairly torturous. But the most torturous to the discerning mind is to watch the country becoming gradually clumsy at doing what it could do with ease thirty years ago. Perhaps that isn’t as torturous as the hopelessness conveyed by our addiction to humour which hopelessly allows us to swallow too much while praying to God to rescue us from misgovernance.
The cost of living in Nigeria is soaring. But Japa is not the remedy.