Chai! The Naira Is Running Fast To One Thousand To A Dollar!


Nigerians have been hit by a double whammy. The truth is that for so many years Nigerians have been under tremendous pressure, but in the last two and half months, as the poet, W.B Yeats would say, things have clearly fallen apart, the centre can no longer hold and mere anarchy is loosed upon the people.

I don’t care about your politics or who you may have recently voted for or may support. The period since the end of May 2023 has tried men’s souls. First came the sudden removal of “fuel subsidy” which overnight, tripled the price of fuel with immediate spiraling of inflation. Dazed, and staggering from the effect of that policy, there came another announcement almost immediately that our foreign exchange would “float” henceforth. The average Nigerian is like a boxer hit with a sucker punch and on his way down, gets thrown an uppercut!

I do not know the economist who wrote the script that is being implemented. I am certain that these fundamental policies were never discussed by a Federal Executive Council before they were announced. Of course, since Buhari left for Daura, there has not been an FEC. These very-very bitter medicines choking Nigerians were never prescribed by the National Assembly before they were administered to the people. At the time they were announced, there was not yet a National Assembly to debate them.

Why the hurry? Pardon me if I ask: are we back to full dictatorship or do we now have military rule in ‘agbada’? Pardon me again: Where exactly in the world has this brazen double injection of antibiotics cured a sick economy and stopped it from dying?

I am afraid to answer my telephone calls these days. Almost every call I receive is from someone with a tale of woes. “The transport fare to work is more than the salary”; “the family cannot eat because the price of basic food items have gone through the roof”; “school fees cannot be paid”; “rent is due and Landlord has increased the rent”; “my child is sick and I cannot afford the medication he needs to get well”; “My mother is very sick in the village and I need money urgently to go and see her”; “I have to get out of this crazy country but I need to pay for my visa and air fares which are out of reach”; “I was forced to borrow money from loan sharks and they are now harassing me and sending embarrassing messages to all my phone contacts”… It is endless and everybody appears to need help urgently.

The problem is that the guy that they are seeking help from needs help himself. Except you are connected to one of the political contraptions in the country with a pipe to government allocations or loans or you are into some illegal hustle, you are on your own.

Unfortunately, I am not a politician or a political thug. I am not a government official. I am not into oil bunkering, smuggling or money laundering. I do not do kidnapping or abduction. I do not even do the common Yahoo-yahoo which a lot of Nigerian young men have been forced into. To all intents and purposes, I am on my own.

So, I lay awake at night thinking of all the stories of anguish I have been told in various telephone calls during the day. I am traumatised that I am in no position to help many of the people seeking my help. I understand that each person who calls does not know that that there are many who have called before him or her, also seeking help. I can feel it that some of them hang up believing that you are tight fisted and just don’t want to help and not that you are in no position to help.

The government needs a lot of fire extinguishers. I don’t want to be a messenger of doom, but Nigeria is heading for a period when there will be so many fires to put out. As hopelessness bestrides the land, don’t be surprised if before the end of one agitation, there is another and another. Some of them may become violent and uncontrollable. We are not unaware of the saying: a hungry man is an angry man. There are too many angry men in Nigeria now and we should be prepared for great increase in crime.

The problem is that when the car you drive was bought by the government, the fuel inside the tank is bought by the government, the sumptuous lunch or dinner in front of you is provided by the government, the luxurious house you live in is provided by the government and you can travel anywhere at anytime with estacode from government, you become stone deaf and cannot hear the noise and agitation outside. It will not matter to you how much fuel costs or that the Naira is almost one thousand to a dollar. Until anarchy wakes you up.

As crazy as it may sound, it nearly happened in Nigeria in the last quarter of 2020 with the #endsars protest. Let the truth be told, the #endsars protest was not just about the police or SARS. Our young people felt that our nation has completely lost direction. A self-serving leadership that appears to be deaf and dumb, has assumed that they own the country and all the milk and honey in it. In their minds, the rest of the nation has become their slaves.

Did we not say that we do not want to be colonised anymore by the British? What we did not realise is that we are going to end up being colonised in a worse manner by our own people. Suddenly, the #endsars protest erupted and for two weeks in Nigeria, the falcon could not hear the falconer. The scars are still there but it looks like we may have forgotten.

Have I seen anything to suggest that something like #endsars would not happen again? No! Have I seen anything to say that our rabid embrace of ancient, village, ethnic and religious politics have waned? No! Is there anything to show that the poverty of the mind that pushes us to crudely acquire more wealth than we will ever need, is gone? Certainly, no! Have we learnt that injustice and evil done to some of us is injustice and evil done to all of us? Not at all. Have we realised that we will all die someday and that we can never build a great nation for our children if we remain cowards perpetually gripped by fear without the conviction to fight evil and frontally support that which is right? I am not sure.

As the Naira runs fast to one thousand to a dollar, I worry.

See you next week.

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