GLOBAL economic melt down and the Nigerian home grown recession have combined to create a new sing- song in Nigeria . Nigeria in all her years of existence, which is since 1914, has never been exposed to this kind of agonising depression and deprivation, neither has she known this kind of frustration and seeming hopelessness. The country’s citizens have thus created a singsong to live out their agony and unusual alienation. It is the sign of the times!
Let us start with a frustrated housewife in a dialogue with her equally frustrated husband:
I cannot understand you. I don’t know what you expect of me or expect me to do. For the past 6 months you have not been able to put down ordi- nary 1000 Naira towards provision of food and other basic essentials in the house. You go out in the morning and come back late in the night with the same stories of woe and misfortune. You have not been able to secure an- other job since you were thrown out of your desk at the bank. Our children are hungry. Their school fees have not been paid.
Nothing seems to be working. Your uncle also lost his business. He could not recover the huge money the government owes him. My mother has terrible diabetes and on the verge of having one of her legs amputated. Now you are worrying about who offers me a ride home, or which male company I keep. I just have to use what I have to get what I don’t have. It is as simple as that. You cannot police me. You should bother about your fate. All your two cars are gone. The landlord is up in arms against us. And you still bother about how I get money to put food on our table.
You think I enjoy this new life style? It is a child of necessity. You should not get on my nerves. You should not rub insult on my injury. If I have to give up my pride so that our family would survive the harrowing times; so be it. Please give me a break!
A frustrated dashing husband who has now been compelled to live the life of a Gigolo also confounds his wife’s wits: I don’t know what you expect of me. Yes. The woman is twice your age and about just three years short of my mother’s age. But she is providing all that we need in these trying times. But for her generosity we would have had to jack up our jalopy or even auction it. You know it. Let us face the reality. I know she uses me as a sex machine. What do you expect me to do? Thank God I have the strength and stamina to meet her insatiable appetite.
I brought bundles of lace to the house; where do you think I got them from? All the wands of brand new currency notes I bring home from time to time, where do you think I got them from? You can grumble from now till eternity, there is nothing I can do about it. Government is not helping matters. And there is no silver lining in the horizon. They say it will get worse before it gets better. Are we going to wait till all of us are six feet below the ground before better days arrive?
I really do not enjoy your ceaseless nagging. I have sugar mummies. Yes I do. I have been pushed to the wall and I am not ashamed to admit that I will sacrifice everything and anything to survive this terrible time.
Please give me a break!
It is the same singsong with the Senior Assistant to the Deputy Chief Comptroller:
It is not in my character to take bribes or cut corners. But the times are hard. I have to pay my children’s school fees. About ten fresh gradu- ates in our household are yet to secure employment. The other time my Village Head summoned me to his palace and chided me like a child. “Don’t you know what your colleagues at the ports are doing?” He asked with his coarse roaring voice.
Everybody in the village expects me to ‘deliver’. Even the pastor of our Church has been on my neck harassing me for heavy tithe. What am I supposed to do? Play dumb? I must make money why the position lasts since I know that I can hear of my sack on television. There is no security of service and all the monies we collect for government end up in private pockets. Why should I be holier than the Pope?
The other time I went to our Old Students Association meeting and everybody was asking me for one favour or the other. Most of our members are unemployed. Their children are unemployed and those with children in school cannot pay their children’s’ fees. Everybody is moaning and lamenting. You cannot blame me if I choose to survive. And I am sure you will do exactly what I am doing or even do worse. Please don’t judge me. Give me a break!
A female student in a tertiary institution cried out loud! “Please give me a break!” she screamed on her critics: What exactly do you expect me to do? My parents can’t pay my school fees. I don’t attend classes regularly because I can’t even afford to pay for my hostel accommodation. And I must pass my examinations. Luckily I am generously endowed by Nature and my lecturers like me. My parents lost their jobs and the small business my father went into could not even take off due to funding. My mother’s kiosk was bulldozed. My elder brother was deported from the UK because government was no longer forthcoming with the scholarship arrangements. The Naira has been turned into toilet paper.
If giving favours to my lecturers will guarantee their favours in return, who am I to shun that route? In any case we should face reality. Virtually all my colleagues in Q hostel are doing the same thing. I don’t care what you hypocrites say about me or about any one else. And I should let the world know that I am not enjoying it. I just have to survive this crushing poverty and move on with my life.
Pastor Ezekiel could not hide his frustration. He converted from one foreign religion to another and announced to his friends that he had been ‘called’ by himself to do the Lord’s work: I left the university seven years ago because I could not find fees to pay. I had to drop out. After years of frustrating search I had to summon courage and help myself. Luckily I discovered that God’s ‘work’ is the most lucrative job in the land. So I ‘called’ myself. Now I have so many congregants providing for my needs. Equally frustrated individuals are flocking to my ‘church’ and pumping money and investing.
Nobody should judge me. I used my brain and I have not stopped anyone from doing same. For God’s sake give me a break!