By Maria Famakinwa
Following the economic crunch being experienced in the country, some Nigerians that have fallen into the poverty line now gatecrash owanbe parties to pack leftover foods of invited guests.
At a party held last weekend at a popular secondary school along Hospital Road in Akure, the Ondo State capital, some women and youths were sighted scrambling for left over foods which nearly resulted in fisticuffs, but for the timely intervention of some guests.
Findings by The Hope revealed that the women engaged the three young men in a serious battle after they outsmarted them to pack the leftover food they targeted at the party. They held firm to the nylons full of leftover food. The celebrants who found it almost impossible to resolve the fight ordered them out of the party venue.
A concerned guest at the party who blamed their behaviour on the hunger in the land observed that some families now depend on parties left over to feed. “They see it as their survival strategy, despite the health risks. Most Nigerians now see weekend parties as the only way to get free food. They pack left over food and meats in already prepared nylons. Even while invited guests are being served, they stand close to them praying silently that they should not finish their food. If you mistakenly stand up to get something, don’t be surprised that you will not meet your food on the table unless somebody is there looking after it. The situation is critical,” she said.
Findings revealed that the additional hardship brought on the people by the steep rise in prices of goods and services, following the increment of petrol litre price from N165 to N500 and now to N700, has brought changes to the lifestyle of people as individuals, families now design shameful means of survival like disguising to different social gatherings as guests especially on weekends with nylons to pack left over foods aside the one they were served as uninvited guests.
Another embarrassing method adopted by some citizens is walking up to offices, including banks, to solicit for alms, eating in restaurants without paying and married women offering sex for money among others.
A road side food seller, Mrs. Omowumi Olabamikale, lamented that many people are still owing her and their refusal to pay is affecting her business. She said: “The most dangerous business to do in Nigeria now is restaurant. This is because it makes you an enemy of those who want to eat on credit. Some people would have finished eating before telling me that they don’t have money. They would promise to pay when they have money but most of them don’t show up again. This is aside those who come to my shop with plate on a regular basis begging to be given food. That is what most food sellers are facing. I am contemplating leaving the business for another if my plan works out.
“Situation seems to be getting worse as many families cannot feed their children. Schools are planning to jerk up tuition fees, yet workers’ salaries remain the same. My neighbour almost killed his wife three weeks ago because of N1000. There is no peace in most homes today because of the harsh economy. The story is the same all over. Hunger can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Government must do something fast to ameliorate the unbearable hunger in the land.”
A banker, Mr Jimoh Adewoye, who revealed that banking halls also have their share of the biting economy realities, explained what happened in his branch. He said: “As you know that bank customers are free to come for transactions during working days, this particular day, a woman in her early 60s came on Monday morning around 9 when we were not too busy and said that she wanted to check the money someone sent into her account. After checking the account number she claimed, we discovered there was nothing of such in our system. We told her we could not find her account details on our system. It was then she started crying and opened up that she didn’t have any bank account with us but actually came to beg for money to feed her children.
“We were able to contribute N10, 000 for her. That was not the first time people would disguise as bank customers to beg for alms in banking halls. A man last month also came begging to be assisted financially to buy his drugs. Many people have the impression that bankers are rich, without knowing that we live mostly on loans like other salary earners. The situation is not peculiar to banks alone, my wife who works with the state government told me how well dressed men and women come to her office, including other offices, daily to beg for financial assistance. The tense economic situation in the economy is putting bankers’ lives at risk because we don’t know who could be coming to harm us.”
An okada rider, Mr Taiwo Isiaka, who further revealed how the economy has made some married women to be sleeping around with different men argued that some women have thrown decency to the wind all in the name of survival. He said: “The situation is so bad that some women offer sex for money. Ask any okada rider, they will tell you how they pick married women to men waiting for them at designated places not necessarily in hotels.
“A friend of mine was told last month that his wife was flirting about. He didn’t believe it until when he set a trap for his wife that he was going to work outside the state, being a carpenter. His wife as usual left the three children at home and went to sleep with another man whose family live in another state. Her husband sneaked into the house around 12.30am and met only the children who were already sleeping. The man kept vigil till 5.30am when his wife came in. The woman was shocked to see her husband and started begging for forgiveness that hunger pushed her to sleep around. That was how their marriage hit the rock. The situation across the country is pathetic and forcing people to do anything to survive. When things are tense like what we are experiencing, urgent steps must be taken to address them,” he said.