Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

It is a tough job to rate today’s Nigerian. The other day, I visited an area I had moved out of two years ago. I was shocked at the massive upgrade I saw there.

Shops were neater, better stocked and products more neatly labelled and displayed.

I also observed that the shopkeepers looked better kept, well dressed. The handwriting of struggle had left many brows and many looked fairer in complexion because they now had air-conditioning units in their shops.

But they also all had one thing in common: They all complained about how hard Nigeria is, how bad the economy is… I didn’t see that though from the look of the handsets they brandished.

I thought to myself, “Everything about these people belies what they say.” I left Magodo Phase 1, Isheri Lagos about two years ago and in that time, they had come this far! I wanted to commend their looks, their prosperity…, but couldn’t; because they all claimed that they had become extremely poor. The irony is, they didn’t look it.

I had left the area for the outskirts because cost of living in the area had skyrocketed. The people who remained, and had seemingly made a success of their stay just wouldn’t admit to it.

It reminded me of the lecturers and other ‘poor workers’ and ‘servants’ in Nigeria whether in the private, public, civil or other ‘services’ in Nigeria who threaten to go on strike at every turn; and yet, they never appear so poor to some of us.

A good number of our civil ‘servants’ now have multiple streams of income with which they compete with contractors in their work places.

An example is a forefather of workers’ activism in Nigeria now turned politician who continues to wear brown French suits (probably no longer made of Khaki but with ‘senator” fabric).

They have all learnt to keep their prosperity coded, while bemoaning the state of the country and its ‘workers’, astutely keeping a keen eye on the buttered side of their slice.

I thought to myself, it appears that many Nigerians are actually richer (materially) by miles, in the last 20 years than they would bother to admit.

Sometimes people just lie when asked the simple question, “How are you?” Are people now much more poorer (in spirit) than they previously were, and the truth is no more in many? Anyone else feel the same way?

Apparently, whatever presently irks the people is not in what they have or do not have, but is in what they are prepared to acknowledge that they have or do not have.

Are Nigerians a people who have abandoned truth and are also in ardent search of it? The good book continues to ask, “Where can you find an honest man?”

In the long gone more familiar years, you could engage people in conversations about themselves, the country, etc and you would get honest input, even as you would wholeheartedly give yours.

Today, conversations are more guarded because people are not who they say they are.

If you are a contractor, you would notice that your competitors are not necessarily the people who ply the same trade with you , but the ‘servants’ sitting in the offices in Government agencies and parastatals pretending to be poor and needy.

My question is, “Why do they bother to talk of strikes and salary increases when they know they can always keep pace with inflation through their various businesses?”

Many of the shopkeepers on the streets of Lagos are also ’employed staff’ of Government and other organisations. They give as little of their time and attention to the paid employment and expect their private enterprises to thrive.

Is that not a very naive way of reasoning? Every adult should know to expect to reap, in multiples, what they sow. How would you sow lies and expect to reap truth from your leaders?

I still hear the good book echo, “Do not be deceived. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap”

So, how about you my friend. What would you say, honestly, about yourself and the state of your country? If we keep speaking in codes, the statistics will never be accurate. I rest my case.

Jennifer Ihuoma Abraham,
October 7, 2023

PS. I wrote this article last year. At this point, I believe Nigerians are learning the hard way that honesty might still be the best policy

When it was fair, people could not admit to it, what shall they say, now that the clouds are grim? If it was difficult to race with mere hounds, how can they race with horses?

By Jennifer Ihuoma Abraham

Jennifer Abraham holds a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. She has practiced journalism since after her national youth service assignment in 1989 as an independent TV producer/presenter and magazine editor; focusing on entrepreneurship, personal and community/natural resources development. She has attended broadcasting courses sponsored by the United States Information Service and Science Reporting Workshops with the African Technology and Policy Studies Network. She is also a teacher, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ and has partnered with NGOs, Government Agencies and individuals to promote philanthropic causes.