In the throes of scarcity and poverty

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By Chioma Obinna

I admire the spirit of Nigerians. They have the tendency of suffering and smiling no matter the pains inflicted on them by the powers that be. Nigerians have shown the capacity to withstand pain and poverty in the weirdest circumstances. The ongoing fuel scarcity have shown Nigerians can withstand anything. I only wonder if they learn their lessons from the problems they encounter.

How can a people’s government keep lying about everything and the goons of such government keep talking about what we see happening everyday in a manner different from what the people know as if the people don’t have brains or sense? How can our rulers continue to be insensitive to the sufferings of the people.

I am not talking about yuletide . It has nothing to do with it. I’m talking about everything: the poverty everywhere, the scarcity, the inflation, the depression, the galloping prices of goods and commodities and the fact that it is only in Nigeria that what goes up does not come down. In the midst of abject poverty and lack, Nigerians have continued to suffer and smile.

I live in the neighbourhood dominated by the masses of suffering Nigerians. I’m familiar with being woken up by quarreling couples; husbands beating their wives over inconsequential matters; wives whose mouths run foul thereby attracting the anger of the husbands; I watched from my window, a woman whose husband recently lost his job telling him his life history and calling him a failure. I still saw the same woman and her four children packing out of the man’s house and last Wednesday, I saw the dead body of the man being brought out of the house and being taken to the mortuary.

I was told he started drowning his sorrows in alcohol and cigarettes and his health deteriorated and he died. Nobody has been able to trace his wife and their four children since they packed out of the man’s house.

We all know what the ongoing fuel scarcity has caused. Everything including businesses have gone comatose. Nothing seems to be working anymore. Power supply is non existing and many who laboured to buy Christmas meat ran the risk of having everything ruined due to lack of proper preservation.

Cost of transportation is still in its all time high. Those who managed to travel before the escalation of the scarcity are stranded in their villages. Those who remained in the city are having the worst of times. And in the midst of these, those who make money at the expense of the peoples sufferings are thriving and smiling to the banks with their millions. Oil marketers and owners of filling stations are having a swell time at the expense of the people. At the lower level, petrol attendants, their wives and family members are having a swell time at the expense of motorists who keep vigil at filling stations to buy fuel at unusual prices. It is no longer strange to see gallons of petrol displayed alongside vegetables, provisions and vegetable oil in shops by wives and relations of fuel attendants. Who knows, very soon they could start packing pms in satchets as corruption in lower level spreads.

The most annoying is buying fuel at N350, N500 per litre from black marketers in front of filling stations which claim they don’t have fuel. Then, you see stations that sell only to jerry-cans because they collect N400 or thereabout for every jerry-can of fuel.

Nigerians don’t really understand the problem of the moment. The last time a similar thing happened, it was one of the oil marketers, Ifeanyi Ubah who ‘sabotaged’ other marketers and flooded the market with fuel. His action forced the others to come back to reality and before you say pronto, fuel was everywhere again. But he also paid the price of his ‘betrayal’.

Currently, the Petroleum Product Marketers and the Federal Government has been throwing stones at each other, trading blames and accusing themselves of lying. But who is lying is not the business of Nigerians. The lies are becoming too much and Nigerians, especially the ordinary people are worse for it.

For once, let the suffering of Nigerians touch the hearts of those responsible for what is going on now. We have heard enough lies and promises that were never kept.

Nigerian workers and masses deserve better than the excuses they get anytime things are not going well. The government and its agencies involved should move and make things better for the people who have been deceived for a long time.

Between the government and the importers, they should at least tell themselves the truth, knowing fully well that when two elephants fight, it the grass that suffer and in this case, the masses.

As far as I’m concerned, what is going on now is failure of leadership. The truth remains that those in government who live at the expense of tax payers lack nothing and don’t feel the scarcity and hardship. They don’t appreciate what the people are passing through because they are not feeling or experiencing it.

Over a week after the problem started , long queues and hardship still persist. Filling stations are selling at whatever amount they like. On Thursday night, I joined a queue at a Mushin filling station, counting myself lucky that the queue was not long, only to be told the pump price at that obscure station is N200 per litre . I left the queue.

Throughout the weekend, all I did was look for fuel. On Friday, I spent five hours at an NNPC station but didn’t get fuel. Area boys invaded the place and scuttled the selling at N143 per litre exercise. The station closed shop.

Moving on to a Mobil station selling at N145 per litre , I spend several hours and yet didn’t get fuel.

This has been the lamentation of many Nigerians. I don’t believe the situation is overwhelming government or that government is not capable of handling the situation. I think it;s something else. I think government is not seriously doing anything about the situation.

When a government begins to think about the situation of the people, things will indeed change for good.

C’est la vérité simple ( This is the simple truth)

 

 

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