“Nigerians are the most resilient people in the world”. “Nigerians are happy people.” We hear people- mostly outsiders- make such comments all the time. They make allusions to how we, Nigerians, tend to turn even the most serious events into happy almost sing-song moments.
For instance, even with the #EndSARS movement heating up day by day; we still see a torrent of funny memes, hilarious skits, ridiculous music releases and sarcastic comments on social media.
To be honest, there is a measure of truth to that idea. However, despite how happy Nigerians may project themselves to others; the truth remains that they really are suffering. Aside the police brutality, which is the focus right now, there is a long list of other issues.
Let’s start with the laborious commute to work. You live in Satellite Town. But because you found a “great” job in Lekki Phase 1, you take it. You now have to wake up at 4am to get ready and leave for work which starts at 9am. You intend to beat any traffic so that you do not get to work late and get docked half-day pay. However, you spend over three hours on the road; jumping buses and hustling on your way home after work closes by 6. Sometimes, you do not even leave the office until 8pm.
You are stressed. But you post pictures of yourself dressed in suit and tie, posing in your office cubicle on Instagram. You caption it “boss things” or “At work…this where the money is made”.
The stress piles up. Your body struggles and before long, you have an “unexplained” illness or you slump one day; out of the blues and die.
Again, salary even means nothing. The minimum wage, to start with, is trash. You have graduated from school, struggled to get a Master’s from the UK or even completed a Masters-PhD program in the US and you come back home to make that money… But six months after your return, you cannot find anything. When you finally get something, they offer you a salary of N80,000 and even put you on probation. You cannot even afford to buy a car or pay rent and other bills on that salary.
To have a basic life, you still must find a side hustle. Your social life becomes retarded because, who wants to go and squander money at the club on a paltry salary? You cannot have a girlfriend; your wardrobe is not impressive; so, even the few ladies you chat up online are not interested. You convince yourself that in time you would become a boss and earn better. However, the bosses, just like the people in power (government), are principalities and powers. They have no plans of ever leaving or retiring to make way for the younger ones who need to rise.
Rather than re-evaluate your condition and make moves to improve your situation; you sow seeds, pray, and fast and wait on God. You see people giving testimonies and you imagine that one day it would be you on the pulpit. Doesn’t God help those who help themselves? Doesn’t faith require even a little bit of work?
Next, the public transports are no longer safe options. As Nigerians, you visit other countries and discover such things as the “Metro” and “Subway”; public transport-related infrastructure that make it convenient for you to move around with ease and without fear. You are not only comfortable; you are 100% sure you will get to your destination without much ado. However, in Nigeria, you will dress up for an interview and just because you entered a bus from Ketu to Obalende and then to Phase 1; your sparkling white and well-ironed shirt will now look like carton color; with bursts of irregular brown polka dot designs on them before you get to your destination.
Sometimes, your skirt or trouser will hook onto something sharp in the bus and get ripped. Even worse, you simply enter Keke from Ajah to Sangotedo and before you get home; you find your phone and your charger gone. How it was stolen, you don’t know. You finally figure out you were either hypnotized or ‘jazzed’. But you thank God that it was not a case of one-chance where you would have been either beaten; robbed or more or even killed for rituals.
Again, Nigerians deal with everything in the city being over-priced! You walk into a restaurant to give yourself a little treat and the menu gets you asking yourself: “Do I really need this kind of pampering? Is it worth it?” “What would it profit me to eat a plate of chicken salad for N5,500 and when with N1000 I can make a bigger bowl of same salad at home?” You travel to Abuja for a conference and you find a very low-key hotel. When you step into lodge for a night, they tell you a night is N35,000.
Please, who sacrificed his life to build the hotel? You find that you have to spend so much to get even the most basic service. The one time you decide to go for the sub-standard and you enter Mame Peju for a quick plate of rice that will save you the extra N700 it would cost at Tantalizers; you get home and hear of a cholera epidemic on the news.
Your heart starts to beat. You don’t know if you will soon fall dead and die. You also know that you cannot cancel Mame Peju’s food tomorrow; simply because you have to maintain your budget.
Listen, Nigeria is tough for Nigerians. I am just glad that we are finally waking up.
Thank God for #EndSars #EndSWAT and #EndPoliceBrutality. Amen?