Nigeria’s scarce condoms

By Busuyi Mekusi


If Wole Soyinka believes ‘birthdays are not for dying’, I hold that sex should not be reason for death. Apart from the fact that some people have reportedly died as a result of a traditional prohibitive charm or device called Máàgùn (literally encased as don’t climb it or thunderbolt), others’ deaths have been blamed on complications that arose from sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDs. Even though the issue of HIV and AIDs remains at the level of a myth in the estimation of so many people, the monster keeps decimating the society, largely as a result of the dismissive approach of active sexual individuals that hold the opinion that the campaign against HIV/AIDs is a mere attempt by government agencies and agents to leverage on the funds made available to tame the scourge of the disease by international funders. While not dismissing the notion of Nigerians and the ideal of ‘business as usual’, verifiable instances of victims and patients are rife of how people are falling into the dangerous traps of HIV/AIDs.

Whereas HIV/AIDs could be contracted through other means that relate to contacts with effected blood or fluids, unprotected sexual intercourse remains a leading source for the spread of the ferocious disease. Multiple sex partners and casual sex define social interactions across the world, most especially moralistic or religious African societies that have been diluted by different outside orientations. In the order of biblical hypocrites, religiously and apparent pious people get overwhelmed by sexual urges or orgies, so much that scared spaces have been variously violated by sexual escapades. Priests are not only caught in the act with married people, they raped both adults and kids, with sodomy also being a guest in vicarages. Hard drugs and stimulants found in liquors aid the performance of power through sex, and many still die during sex romps, metaphorically returning through the female genitals through which they were born.

The use of sexual enhancement substances by both male and female is not just an attempt to make up for a deficiency but a quest for additional energy to prove sexual vibrancy and articulation. Some scholars also read this development as a form of revenge, with the person performing revenge objectifying the sexual partner, configuring him/her as the offender, and subjugating him/her to a bout that is nothing but an injury to self, in disguise. The Yoruba see such a person as an unreasonable lot, who kills himself, like the bile that occasioned the death of the dog and itself, in an attempt to kill the partner. Sex is no longer a means for emotional expression or a vehicle for copulation, but has been ritualized to the level of spiritual invincibility and magical economic prosperity. Even though sex should not be for dying, it remains an unmitigated source of avoidable death across the world, particularly in developing nations like Nigeria.

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Although a colleague of mine once philosophically remarked that male erection begins from the inside, apparently suggesting that the turgidity in an erection is a function of the state of the mind, it cannot be said absolutely of Nigerians that their socio-political and economic conditions diminish their sexual activity. No doubt, bad news, unfortunate realities, unmet aspirations, etc., have a way of vitiating one’s sexual activeness, as the human agency, as psychosocial being, would be largely influenced by things around him/her. Just as negative realities have a way of dampening the sexual commitment of a person, very positive manifestations, like success in academic, business, politics, etc, would spur one to sex, particularly when the prevailing conditions are enabling. Religious teachings advise one to be extra careful at moments of glee and fervour.            

The celebration of Valentine’s Day in 2024 by Nigerians is not only humbling but troubling, not necessarily because it coincided with the Ash Wednesday that heralds fasting among Catholic and Anglican faithful, but because of the incapacitating inflationary economic situations that have sapped the meager resources of citizens. Since after the removal of fuel subsidy as well as the devaluation of the naira, and the attendant increase in prices of goods, commodities and services, with the same salaries by public workers that are in the majority, survival has been harrowing and difficult, thereby taking dangerous tolls on the quality of life of the people. Even though commodities are not scarce on the shelves of shops and malls, the prices have tripled, and the packaged content of some products reduced, in order to charge prices that would be affordable to low income earners. We would not have to wait for the National Bureau of Statistics to know that the number of 133million multidimensionally poor Nigerians has since ballooned.

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The 14th February Day to celebrate the sacrifice made by the Roman St. Valentine to sustain love and marriage has been reduced to a day for careless sexual intercourse, with gifts that should emblematically reinforce love ending as Greek Gifts for baiting. People are no longer interested in remembering the daring confrontation of Emperor Claudius II by priest Valentine, to preserve love and affection, but they would rather get clad in red, but keep blood in their stomach while spiting whitish saliva, in the face of palpable rage of kidnapping and maiming.

The farewell note of St. Valentine to the daughter of the jailer he gets acquainted with while awaiting execution is remarkably different from those of Nigerians that commit suicides these days, over unmet dreams, societal rejection, economic challenges and jilting by their partners. In 2024, one is not sure whether Nigerians remember the lesson of Ash Wednesday; that we came from dust, and would return to dust, as they lusted after the redness of love in reckless sexual intercourse.

One of the consumables whose prices have gone out of the reach of commoners, and that are considered scarce, is condom. Used for protection against sexually-transmitted diseases and for birth control, recent engagements showed that most Nigerians that reluctantly adopted the use of condom when having sex with a casual partner or sex worker might throw caution to the wind because of the high cost, due to many more important things, in their estimation, that are begging for attention.

It is obvious that the downward flow of Nigeria economy has not vitiated the sexual activities of Nigerians, but rather sex is seen as a pass-time and a form of escape from challenging circumstances, however temporary or inadequate such thinking might be. While a recent survey indicated that 34% of Nigerians use condoms, a 2021 report showed that 587m condoms were consumed by Nigerians, even as 1.15billion condoms would be needed yearly to attain 90 per cent coverage, and bring down sexually transmitted diseases.

As the cost of condoms skyrocketed in Nigeria, raising the fear of reduced usage and worsening of the combustive spread of HIV/AIDs, it is noteworthy that humanity is better protected in other climes, with counties like South Africa and France making condoms freely available to their citizens. With Japan having the record of highest condom usage in the world, planning and data in Nigeria may remain questionable, given the queer approach of Nigerians to processes that require one to be meticulous.

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It is frighteningly scary that we have just been told by Boss Mustapha that Godwin Emefiele and some others allegedly forged the signature of President Buhari while they were in office as secretary to the government of the federation and Governor of the Central Bank respectively. The huge amount of $6,230,000 involved shows how the country would have been roundly looted in foreign currencies, with the naira bowing, due to humiliation by people that should respect and protect it. The officials that allegedly forged the signature of the then ailing Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in Ondo State are yet to be brought to book. 

The cries are that Nigerians are suffering but the behaviours of governments and public officers across the different levels do not support the scarcity that is sending the poor to their graves in installments. Not just condoms but all basic food items and commodities are presently scarce in Nigeria, due to vitiated purchasing power of citizens, to stay afloat the turbulent inflationary economy. It is not out of place if Nigeria governments consistently make certain commodities freely available to the citizens, as urgent revolutionary decisions are taken to kill corruption, eliminate corrupt people, cut down the cost of governance, revise the revenue allocation formula, tame insecurity, recalibrate agriculture, re-inflate small scale industries, block leakages in revenue generation, and emplace a new socialisation that would ensure the needed buy-in by the citizens.

Presently, condoms and other basic items are not scarce, but costly to disempowered citizens. When important foods, consumables and services are scarce, condoms would no longer be important, as the erection drive from within would no longer be there. As the naira is acting like the Zimbabwean dollar, and the nation taking a dive like Venezuela, may our shop shelves not be empty! We should be reminded that the 18th century French revolution that consumed Louis XVI was propelled by palpable royal corruption and extravagance, in the face of inequality and widespread economic hardship.

Nigeria’s scarce condoms

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Nigeria’s scarce condoms

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