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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Blame not the spirits

BY Bayo Fasunwon


Nigeria is a wonderful country to live in. The Oceans, the beaches, the rivers, the lagoons, the good lands that support all crops, hidden and discovered mineral resources, and most importantly, people – good people. Nigerians are able to produce comic reliefs from their life challenges, and are thus able to laugh away depression and high blood pressure sometimes. However, most of those things, which turn into comic reliefs, are actual happenings in the environment. Two of such come to mind. In the first instance, a man approached a Pastor, saying some esoteric forces are causing his money to disappear mysteriously.
Despite all the fasting and prayers, the situation had not changed. To make matters worse, he had many roadside debts to pay, and could not despite his enviable salary. In another case, a man short of beating up his wife is contemplating divorce. He complained that his wife is diverting his funds, malnourishment, and stealing his money. These allegations, the wife vehemently refuted. In both cases, inadequate funds are the doings of supernatural forces. Quite recently, there were reports that some pastors of a global Church were sacked because their incomes were reducing drastically.
Operating under certain doctrines, some readily blame the ‘disappearance’ of funds on the operations of ‘devourers’. Apart from praying, the antidote would be the payment of tithes, offerings, and giving (to the poor, needy, parents, and of course servants of God). Many heed this admonition with the same results repeating itself. However, the problem may not be esoteric after all. The present Nigeria economy is very harsh and hard on all, especially the salary earners. These groups of people have their incomes unaffected by the dynamics of prices in the market. Unlike traders, artisans, and all others who are able to change the prices of their wares when there is a price fluctuations, employers do not increase salary earners’ income despite the economic changes. Thus, caught in the reality of inflation, the purchasing power of the salary earners are drastically reduced leading to the suspicion of spiritual conspiracy in man’s impoverishment.
However, a quick market survey reveals that many Nigerians, especially salary earners may not have the capacity (based on the N30,000) to eat balanced diet. A balanced diet is required for each and everyone to develop physically and mentally. However, the cost of foodstuffs in the market exposes the people to a situation whereby many are malnourished, have weak immunities, and exposed to health hazards. Unfortunately, many die young. While living on the meager salary, which is often not paid, a statistical source revealed that the prices of some selected foodstuffs have gone up by several percentages.
Thus, Yam, vegetable oil, and Tomato had increased by 13.96%, 23.77% and 9.09% respectfully. Depending on the brand, Rice had increased by 12.47%, 17.46%, 15.33%, and 14.23%. For those who depend on Fish for protein, Titus has increased by 11.06%, while Tilapia has increased by 7.73%. For diabetics, Plantain has increased by 17.06%, while wheat flour has increased by 12.52%. For the Diabetic, the increase in price of recommended foodstuffs and drugs could be the reason for flaying President Olusegun Obasanjo who advised that Diabetes could be managed as he had managed his for thirty-five years. The question on the mouth of many is if they had access to resources like him that would make them shun many carbohydrate foods. Furthermore, researches also revealed that as at May 2021, the prices of Maize, Garri, and Beans prices had increased the most, making feeding a herculean task for most families, and of course causing domestic squabbles.
The increments are not restricted to foodstuffs alone. One needs ₦90,000 to ₦250,000 to get one bedroom apartment, and ₦300,000-₦450,000 to get a three Bedroom apartment for a 1-year rent. Now, with increases in the prices of building materials, the price for rent is also expected to soar. From the above analysis, it was projected that while a single person would need a monthly cost of about ₦100,000 (without rent) to live well in a month, a family of four would need at least ₦240,000 (without rent) to keep their heads above the water. One begins to wonder what the situation would be when the price of Premium Motor Spirit is increased to ₦380 later in the year. The price volatility would without doubt cause huge price increases, demand for new wages (which is even due now), political movements, and of course increase in the crime rate.
There is the need to urgently stop these unilateral price hikes. One observes that often, these increases in the price of goods are arbitrary and innovations of Sherlock traders who seek to make high and unreasonable profits on their goods and services. Many sell their goods on the principle that they have to increase the prices in order to restock when the prices might have soared. These callous businesspersons are exploiting government’s ineffectiveness in regulating the markets. Many argue that liberalization, being a policy of government prevents any form of governmental intervention. However, truth be told that developed countries often subsidize and regulate the prices of goods and commodity in the market in order to prevent galloping inflation. Unfortunately, Government wears taciturn faces, pretending that all is well, because they are well. Well, they need to understand that a new wave of robbery in many parts of Nigeria is the burglary of shops and houses where many edibles are being carted away.
Now, government should realize that Nigerians are malnourished and living under terrible hardship. Even the paid salary workers are groaning, not to talk of those on percentage payments, and or unpaid at all. Malnourishment would kill many, and COVID 19 would be wrongly diagnosed as the culprit. Many homes would lack peace, and so the nation as a whole. Government should step in now and stem the tide before we have to carry a sack load of money to buy toothpaste. For fellow Nigerians, do not worry yourself on the belief that some esoteric forces are robbing you dry, no, it is the economic realities that makes your money worthless and disempowered to meet your needs.
While putting this piece together, the news filtered in that Chief (Sir) James Olatubosun Lawal, the tenth Parakoyi of Ikireland, and CEO Greater Tomorrow International Group of schools had passed on to the great beyond. The shock dried up my tear glands, and one could only stare into the sky, hoping to see his soul returning. Nevertheless, alas, the soul was gone and heaven wept by the release of heavy torrents that caused floods in most part of Ikare and Arigidiland. A foremost educationist whose passion led to the grooming of many wonderful talents, his products had represented the State and nation at different local, national, and international competitions and won. After Tai Solarin, yours truly has not met such a passionate Educationist and Philanthropist as ‘Uncle Lawal’. Time and space cannot contain any write-ups on him now. The nation has lost a rare breed, Ondo State has lost an Ambassador and producers of men; and once again, Arigidi has lost a General, while Ikire has lost an illustrious son. Let me leave you with his advice on Education of the Nigerian child. He said, “There is no point in deceiving ourselves; even while the country was in boom, the political class were not ready to fund public education. The UNESCO recommendation is 26 percent of the total budget, but which government has ever complied with it or even come near. So parents should be made to contribute a part of the funding needs of the sector, so that the facilities can be upgraded. All these political elites have taken their children out of the system.”
Adieu Uncle Lawal.

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