Squeezing water from a stone!
The past few months have been very tough and economically challenging for many Nigerians. The fuel scarcity and hiked transport fares aside the epileptic power supply has added to the burdens of many citizens. No class in the social order has been spared, but it had affected the already impoverished average worker and traders more. It had become a case of squeezing water from a stone!
With a big dip in the disposable income of many Nigerians any claim to or attempt at opulence and affluent lifestyle has given way to cost-cutting measures. The reality for many Nigerians is that the economy of their country is currently crawling on all fours like a toddler, irrespective of what researchers are postulating.
Thousands of breadwinners have lost their jobs and many of those who still have where to go in the mornings are on delayed pay, half-pay or are owed salaries for months.
Nigerians have had their pockets strained to breaking point. In order to survive the hard times, many have devised ingenious strategies while hoping for the much promised ‘change’. Such strategies include skipping meals and trips, rationing resources, cutting down on domestic expenses to making practical adjustments in their lifestyles.
According to Mrs. Madu, who lives in the Ajegunle area of Lagos and works at Marina, Lagos, paid N100 in fare from Boundary area to CMS. But now, she has to part with N250 per trip. “What I do to beat the high fare is to come out as early as 5am. Once you are able to do that, you would be able to board the bus for N150. If by mistake you come out a few minutes past 5am you would have to pay N250,” she said.
For Mr. Oye Olawale, a civil servant in Ilorin, the way round the fare hike was to re¬sort to trekking half-way to his office at Post Office before taking a motorbike for the rest of the journey. “I had no alternative plan than to walk because there are other demands to be met at home, and I can’t spend all my money on public transport,” he explained.
Families have had to ration food to so that what they have can last till the end of the month. The situation in many families does not warrant asking the children whether they are satisfied or not, but to ensure they have something to eat. These are the sign of the times!
Most generators are now on holiday. Some only put it on a few days in a week now. To alleviate the effect of the unbearable heat, several neighbours sleep on verandas and formed a “the Outside Sleeping Team”.
Traders too are not finding the situa¬tion bearable any longer. “We only put on the generating set when we have visitors”, says Mrs. Onyema, a trader. “As soon as the guest leaves, we put off the set. This is to save cost, because we buy from the black market.
A retired secondary school principal likened the experience of citizens under the present economic hardship to the fate of a man diving into a river in a bid to escape from a raging lion, only to be confronted by a crocodile. And when he thought of escaping by climbing a tree, a black cobra menacingly attacked him.
Some workers who live far away from their offices have resorted to sleeping in the office. They only return home on weekends. It is the only prudent decision, as they are unable to cope with the exorbitant daily transport fares.
The situation is, however, an oppor¬tunity for some enterprising Nigerians to make brisk business. One of such is Yinusa a barber, who has now turned into an illicit fuel hawker. “Unlike before now when I was begging people for money to feed, fuel hawking now takes care of my bills.”
Mrs. Adenike Komolafe who stays in the Odunlade area said that the dwindling economy has made her husband to start a small farm behind their house. “We still had some land at our backyard and my husband has started a farm there.
How long would these ingenious strategies last? We only hope and pray that there will be an improvement before the situation gets totally out of hand.
Squeezing water out of stone is not an easy task!
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »