Nigeria is sick, no doubt about that. Even before it was officially announced that we are a nation in a recession, the foetus still in the womb knew something had gone wrong.
Nigeria, like any other nation, can be likened to a big family. Every member of the family has a role to play, whether things are good or bad. A teacher of mine, a university professor, said there had been an adjustment to his family budget recently – all in the name of the Nigerian economic recession. According to him, he called for a family meeting where he had to orientate the family members – wife and children – about the realities on ground: salaries are not coming forth and things are getting more expensive by the day. The agreement reached by the whole family was that the father (professor) would have to cut the monthly allowances he gives to the wife and children!
Reluctantly, they all agreed amidst placing curses on the suspected beings who had brought them into this mess. In such a family, the truth is that the father also would feel the impact of the reduction he has made to the allowances. His daily meals would reduce both in quantity and in quality. No more eating with meat and fish; it’s either you pick meat or fish! No more appetiser and no more desserts! If you want anything aside your normal reduced allowance, you are on your own! Perhaps the husband would also reduce the number of days or times he makes love to his wife. After all, my Yoruba elders would say “Whatever a bird eats is what it flies with”.
That is the present situation in every Nigerian home. The usual song on the lips of everyone is “Everything has CHANGED”. This is very nice. It seems everybody is adjusting to the reality on ground. It seems the era of wasteful living is now gone. It seems we are now thinking as though there is tomorrow. It seems the era of “We dine today and die tomorrow” is gone. A friend with whom I belong to a WhatsApp group sent a funny-but-true analysis to the group (whether he wrote or plagiarised it is a story for another day). The post was about how one can perform a wedding service with just forty-nine thousand, five hundred naira (N49,500) in this time of recession. We are no more eating with our two hands! Change has really come!!
Surprisingly, however, the ones who promised the change which ushered in our own change do not want to change. One would think, like in the case of the professor’s family above, the change would be all-round. As a matter of fact, some of us thought the change would come from the top. But with what we have seen from a few days back, our own Buhari and his cabinet members do not want to partake in the change dispensation at all. How would you introduce something to the governed and you, the leader, do not want to take a lead in this? This is imposition at its peak.
It is disturbing, disheartening and unbelievable that entertainment and hardship allowances are still included in the official remunerations of President MuhammaduBuhari and Vice-President YemiOsinbajo, as released by theEconomic Confidential, a sister publication of PRNigeria and published by Sahara Reporters. Hardship allowance? Entertainment allowance? In this time of economic recession? Are you kidding me? This is completely unNigerian (at least we now have a changed Nigeria and Nigerians). Totally unpatriotic.Absolutely hypocritical.
Well, just like many of us were hopeful that Buhari would bring the desired change, I still believe things will get better; hopefully from the top. That is when the country, the one-time giant of Africa, would be out of this sickness – a time in which the head will no longer be ill. To get to that point, President MuhammaduBuhari (PMB) needs to do the needful as a matter of urgency.
Be part of the sacrifice – the change you want us to start and that we have started. You want us to be less wasteful, take a lead and be less wasteful. Compel your cabinet members to be less wasteful. Most importantly, let it be seen by us that you are less wasteful.
Also: this is not the time for unnecessary secrecy at the presidency. Nigerian journalism is now alive. What you think is a secret is already on the lips of every Nigerian. So before you will be crucified and seen as a dictator, come out to tell us what you are doing; how better we are getting; that there is still hope, as often as possible. This is a family to which we all belong, hence we need to be part of everything that is going on.
For a start, let the president come out to tell us why civil servants cannot be paid hardship allowance for what they go through daily due to unpaid or delayed salaries. Let him come out to explain why ordinary Nigerians should not be compensated with allowances to cushion the effect of hardship they undergo daily because of hikes in the prices of food items. Let the president and his vice explain to us why they are different from other Nigerians.
Sunday Akande, a Nigerian educational psychologist and writer, can be reached on [email protected]

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