Some people actually went out and bought goods and services with the arrears of those wages like foods stuff, land, started building houses and some got old jalopies to match. What we do not understand is how our poverty level “represented a dramatic drop from an estimated poverty rate of 62.2 per cent recorded between 2009 and 2010 based on the Harmonized Nigeria Living Standard Statistics (HNLSS)”. We must have been sleeping all through:
Haba, nobody woke up or they are referring to politicians doubling their loots. These so called experts from World Bank like Mr. John Litwack, the World Bank’s Acting Country Manager and those quoting him like Professor Oyinlola Olaniyi of the Economics Department, University of Abuja need to have their heads examined for colo-mentality. But then and again, what do you expect when even our Finance Minister is a product of the same club.
These economists must have been referring to Stomach Infrastructure. What we did realize never materialized until the elections started and we see politicians eating corn, groundnuts and boli at roadsides. Bags of rice started appearing in the West and a lady had died struggling for those bags in Abuja. If that is not a sign of desperation, we wonder what that was.
It could not have been the increase in minimum wage of 18,000 naira either because as of 2013, the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC claimed Anambra, Ebonyi, Plateau, Kwara, Kebbi, Niger, Osun, Enugu and Zamfara were defaulting states. Moreover, the states paying always owed arrears in months, depressing the economy. In the meantime, inflation on goods and services skyrocketed because of announcement of wage increase only for government workers.
Yet, they keep on telling us we were better off. It is one thing to lie in our face, another to try to impress the rest of the world that our country has improved considerably without feeling the succor in our economic well-being. These politicians deliberately starved us into submission by asking hungry people to vote for them dangling food in our face. Same people that had stolen, delayed and saved our salaries in their accounts for interest. Now losers wanted their rice back!
A few months ago, after some recalibrations of economic activities, Nigeria was declared the biggest economy in Africa over South Africa. Stock market went crazy, the few rich celebrated and the looters were popping champagnes. Poor folk’s economic situation never moved an inch.
What is the big deal? We can imagine how many young people would be saved in daring to cross the desert from Arab countries into western Europe if our poverty level was reduced by a third. There would be sign of hope and perseverance until situation would get better at the grassroots. They may be writing their friends in Europe and America that the country is back, improving and they should come back home to take advantage of the economic progress.
Let us day dream that poverty level has been reduced from 62 to 33 percent. Mama Silifa would have meat or fish in the pot for the children and husband to eat. Papa Silifa would not have to leave home very early in the morning before everyone gets up to ask for chop money. Even Mama BookMeDown would not stop encouraging deadbeats to eat and pay later. Colleagues would not be making snide remarks like take home pay was not enough to pay for bus home.
There are some workers that would go to Oga to borrow money against their paychecks on pay day. As soon as they make their payment, they start borrowing again the following day. Luckily, most of their wives engage in some trade. They are not just house wives or homemaker. On top of all those, they sell provisions by the roadside or some markets to support their husbands and children. Even the children sometimes help their mothers out.
Rich houses are well fortified with dogs, barbwires and iron rods. Sometimes we wonder who is really in prisons, the criminals or our rich families. In case of emergency, wardens are always on duty to let out the criminals from prison but our rich folks are trapped in their own self-created penitentiary if fire breaks out. What counts is not the luxury inside their homes that suddenly disappear as soon as they step out of it, but reduction of poverty to decrease hostility to all.
Nevertheless, people have not stop living. They still throw parties and perform ceremonies. If they cannot sing and dance at night, they do it in the afternoon. By six in the evening, most people are preparing to leave and go back home. There are some late night parties but it has to be served with breakfast in the morning. In those days, we used to call it from dusk to dawn parties or dinner and breakfast parties. Only the filthy rich can afford those type of party today.
What is revealing in some of those parties are people waiting for take-home. If you are lucky to be invited to the parties of the rich or can crash them, food is no problem. You would be asked twice if you have eaten to make sure there is no waste. The surplus food can be easily given to house helps, guards and drivers to take to their families. May be that is what they mean by poverty reduction from 62 to 33 percent.
On the other side of the coin are parties with limited food. You will not be served unless someone knows you. If they do not know you and you put on the same uniform ( Aso Ebi), you will be served and recognized. The sign of poverty is not difficult to spot. Some people carry plastic bag with them when going to those parties. As soon as they are served, they throw food into the plastic bag tugged in their normal fashion bags. Then claim they have not been served.