Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DYING IN NIGERIA’S PARASITIC ECONOMY

Dying In Nigeria's Parasitic Economy
there’s poison in Nigeria’s air
because of that I live in fear

My name is Kukogho Iruesiri Samson. I have lived in every region of my country. I am a Nigerian. I am dying and I am afraid. 

Yes, I am afraid, not because I don’t want to die, but because I am just 1 amongst the millions dying, slowly, beyond redemption... or so it seems.

Don’t laugh; just be afraid too, like me, because you are dying too. Yes you are! 

Well, I have a confession – let’s forget about dying for now – I also have a phobia; I am dead scared of walking the streets of my country unless in company of other persons.

Because of this phobia I am fond of taking motorcycles rides or boarding vehicles for the shortest distances, which is if I have to leave my house or work place. Most times, if I am not at work or at church, I just stay cooped in my house.

Well, the reason for my phobia is not a mystery; I am afraid of faces, Nigerians' faces.

we’re walking stories in this land
from birth till when we turn to sand

The face of those dying like me, dying, struggling, still dying...just dying. Each face I see has a hidden story to tell:

The woman with a worn-out ‘Bagco super sack’ filled with God-knows-what, begging near Mararaba bridge with two kids in tattered dressing clinging to her torn skirt; the old man begging at Nyanya, covered with recalcitrant flies, gunning for his runny sores; the dust covered young man hawking DVD plates in Utako, trying too hard to convince a passer-by to buy; the taxi driver getting beat up by Agbero at Jabi park just because he wouldn't part with money he feels they did not earn; the ‘wanzam’ cutting fingernails in Maitama for N20; the little kid selling pure water while dodging traffic at Lugbe express-way, the pregnant woman crying at Berger bus stop after pick-pockets targeted her; the teenager being beat up at Mpape for 'picking a pocket'....
and this is Abuja, FCT!
so much suffering.. a pity

Each walk in the streets leaves me drained, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. Why should some people suffer so in a country like ours? Why is God allowing it? Why...?

One morning, I met a woman sitting close to my office in Utako. I immediately knew she was out of place, probably because she had a travelling bag and she sat on the bare ground. I ignored her and went in.

2 hours later I came out to get something and there she was. She had moved further back to get cover from the sun. I walk to her and asked why she was sitting there... You don’t want to hear her story. I did what I could and left with tears in my eyes.

Ah...and the millions like her, dying, struggling and just dying.

look into our eyes and see our pain
we toil and sweat but earn no gain

Today I bought vegetables from a woman selling by the roadside. I did not plan to buy greens, but I did because her eyes spoke to me.

After buying the vegetables, I decided to trek awhile and met a young man walking the streets of Nyanya with a mini laptop in his hands. His trouser looked like something that hadn't seen water in six months but his face was full of life. When he passes by someone, he would offer a sim card and immediate registration beaming with smiles.

Imagine! I wondered, given the number of rejections, how much he would make a day. Would it be enough for a decent living?

A little boy of 8 takes care of my refuse. I feel bad even though I pay him a token. But do you know why I let him do it? It’s because he wouldn't feed well otherwise. 

The aunt he is staying with only lets him out on Sundays. Between one Sunday and another he barely eats enough. She will neither feed him nor dress him proper. I had to buy him slippers.

So he takes our trash and we give him what we can. So young a child, already dying...

just to survive we have turned beasts
seeking defense in and knives and fists

One other thing that scares me a whole lot is the cannibalistic displays on the streets. Mobs are formed with the speed of lightning, but you can hardly get two people together to help repair the broken bridge at Kabayi.

Within a second, a living being turns roasting flesh...Go ask them at Aluu, Lagos, Abuja and many places. Thank God the animals responsible for the torture of two young ladies over pepper 'theft' in Ejigbo have been caught.

You know, I have even considered being a hermit... not the wilderness type of John The Baptist or Ngugi wa Thiongo's  'The Black Hermit'  kind. I just wished to be away to civilization with all the evidences of his destructive tendencies. To be alone to nurture my ideas... but ideas need money to become reality and to get money, you must work.

Nigerians are not ready to put their money into something that is not osmotic in their favor. If they are not going to gain more than those they are doing a favor for, then it is not worth investing in... even if a thousand fates are hanging in the balance.

This is the reason why we have many talented Nigerians wasting away in obscurity.

Even death had come as an option more than once. But then I think of the words of our pastors...heaven and hell "Thou shall not kill". Well, not that I care much for those pastors anyway.

the men of god turn dogs of men
as worship place turns fraudster’s den

Are most of them not slowly killing their fellow 'diers' with god-inspired lies? They are looting poor members dry to build mansion on earth while selling hopes of mansions in heaven to them. 

Is it not in Nigerian that every riff-raff with access to a dictionary and some lose money can start a church and loot members... better for him if he knows a babalawo for some extra props.

Well, at this point you might be wondering why I titled this nonsense rant ‘DYING IN NIGERIA’S PARASITIC ECONOMY'. Sorry, I'll get on that right away.

Is there anyone who is a stranger to the phrases "our economy is growing", “foreign reserves”, “increased GDP”, “budgetary allocations” bla bla bla? We hear it every day, from successive governments, backed up with some high sounding numbers.

But in the end, they only end as statistics. 

We don’t see it. I don’t see it. The roadside mechanic doesn't see it. The tomato hawker doesn’t see it. The beggar in Lagos, the cobbler in Sokoto, the barrow pusher in Onitsha, the wood splitter in Kano... they don’t even understand it.

they give exciting prognosis
while looting. Is this osmosis?

So our economy is parasitic – the poor are being used to fill the pockets of certain parasites. We are hosts and the looters are on the sucking end.

The budget is higher every year. New policies are put in place, but we see nothing. Monies are declared missing, billions of Naira! In the end, after the newspaper wars, nothing comes of it. The poor man will steal eat soup without meat.

My street in Mararaba is a muddy mess in rainy season and a dusty desert in dry season. No roads, no sewage. I endure traffic congestion to and from work. I buy fuel to power my house. Yet I pay taxes.

They privatized PHCN, made me pay a daily tariff, whether or not there is power. Guess what, I was at one of their offices today to recharge. They were using generator to power their machines... Ah, 9ja!

We are being milked. I am being milked. You are being milked...and we are dying.

but then this death is our fault too
the stain remains on me and you

The real reason why we are dying is not the government's failure. No, that is a long known disease. We have gotten immunity to that. The disease worrying us now are many, fear, corruption, laziness, hate....Name it.

We are afraid to demand change, so we live with whatever is given to us. We wait for the government to do it all, but some individuals are inspiring change in their little way. We let hate turn us to demons.

So we kill in Yobe, we kill in Nasarawa, we kill in Maiduguri, we kill in Jos, we kill everywhere....  Sadly, in all the killings, we only kill the poor, not those looting us. Ah, we are dying!

But the big one is corruption. We have all turned corrupt.

A man goes to Sokoto and brings 8 women to Mararaba to start a begging cartel. A man goes to the East and brings women trained to act as blind beggars. Decent looking women walk the streets with their babies and keep asking for transport fare to unknown destinations. Policeman turns extortionist, defending the agbero's right to terrorize...

let’s start a change, let’s start right now
and things may turn out fine somehow

I once gave a little girl N300 after I met her crying with an empty tray near a football field. She said she had lost the proceeds from the sales of her ware and her stepmother would kill her if she were to return without it. So I gave her the money, supported by other Good Samaritans.

Two weeks later, I meet the same girl, same spot, crying. She had the same story. I was angry and disappointed... but that is life. Who knows what her reality is? Is she not also dying?

Are you not dying? Are we not dying?

Or are we going to wake up and realise that Nigeria is ours. That we can make a change starting with 201?
Will we wake up to our responsibilities as brothers’ keepers? Will we take our destinies into our own hands and carve a future for ourselves instead of waiting for an inept government?

Will we reverse this osmotic economy and build a diffusive, osmotic economy with statistics that will reflect in the color and texture of our soup and the shade of our smiles?

Will we...or should we just keep dying.
for those who want to wait and see
you just might die soon, before me!

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