By Seun Awosika
Nearly everywhere you turn to in Nigeria now, the cry is that “the country is hard”. As a matter of fact the phrase has become so unpopular amongst us that there are several variations such as E no easy, Enugbe (mouth is dry in Yoruba), Pepper no rest, sun no dey smile and many others; now coined in local parlance to describe the difficult state of the nation.
It does not matter your social strata; rich or poor; old or young; we all seem to have a common understanding and definition of these slangs.
The recent introduction of the 7.5 percent VAT and many other taxes, rise in inflation rate, increase in unemployment rate, continuous hike in prices of petroleum products, rents, electricity tariff and other common foods and goods are all confirmation that the country is truly hard
To top it all, the insensitivity of government to the plight of the people is a big source of worry for many and has made these bitter slangs even more unpopular amongst Nigerians.
Surprisingly though, in the midst of all the hunger and the hardship, Nigerians have always found ways of being happy, fund our flamboyant lifestyles and live large-at least on social media-even though in actual reality, we live in self-induced poverty.
Yes, it is true that the Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti describes us as “suffering and smiling; in one of his many popular hit songs because of our failure to object and protest government strangling policies; but it is also true that a lot of times we misplace priorities and expend resources on the wrong things.
A typical Nigerian would prefer to go hungry to save for Aso ebi even though he/she may not have enough transport fare for the party. An unemployed youth who also has no accommodation, would rather spend money on acquiring the latest high-end class brand phone rather than fund a business idea with such resources.
Everybody wants to belong even in hunger! A banker living on the mainland and working on the Island with a paltry salary of N50,000 monthly who has two out of school children but wants to wear designer shoes and post the pictures on social media not minding whether he can afford to put a meal on the table for his family or not.
Our undergraduate girls who are now more serious and committed to splashing fanciful pictures across social networks than their education, are now so desperate that they will do anything to own a car before even graduation.
We are hungry, yet we spend millions of Naira that could have been used for some tangible investment on parties. And we now hold parties unnecessarily and indiscriminately so much so that we even organize huge birthday ceremonies for 6-month-old babies, whose education we may not be able to fund later on.
How about those who slide into your DM asking you for just N1,000 “so they can at least put something for stomach” But the same people never go off Facebook and WhatApp. They are the chief forwarders of those “Jesus blackmail messages”. They can afford data subscriptions to share unnecessary broadcast messages yet they are hungry. Bros, if that hunger bite you well, you go use that moni chop. Afterall, during my broke days, I was off social media for 5 months and I did not die.
A friend who lives in the United kingdom was recently telling me of how is 19-year-old Nigerian-based nephew wanted an Iphone 11 pro Max as birthday gift when even he who has been living in London as a British citizen for more than 15 years uses a Motorola G7. Not because he could not afford the latest phones but because it is considered an unnecessary temporary luxury.
As a matter of fact, those who live abroad hardly service their material egos. if you look closely you would find this is true.
Nigeria is a society where people will borrow money to buy Aso ebi/designer cloths, make-up, paint nails; data; go for a photo shoot; organize a party; take a taxi; while ignoring the very issues that burn them. These things are good only when you can comfortable afford them.
Let’s stop living beyond our means; live within your comfort zone and not be ashamed about it; cut your cloth according to your available material and finally I say STOP! STOP!!! Stop feeding unnecessary flamboyant fantasies and maybe then you would realize that you are not so hungry and poor after all.
Journalist, Media Consultant & Strategist