Random Musings (1)
Those who lived through the 80s have certainly seen Nigeria in her good days, when money was worth its value. I still remember one issue that keeps reminding me that yesterday is gone and its good ‘flavour’ will never come back. My uncle had a friend he was very close to. In fact, their friendship dates back to when I was not yet born. According to him, their friendship was synonymous with their trade at the seaside. They were both fishermen whospent more years on the waterside than on the land. The story was that in 1980 the two friends came home for the rainy season vacation which was to last for a few months.
One day my uncle’s friend visited him with a brand new 504 Peugeot vehicle bought with the proceeds ofhis fishing business. On enquiry the man told my uncle that he paid N7, 000.00 and the car dealer still gave him some change, which means that the vehicle was sold for less than N7000.00. My uncle screamed. It was a scream for ignorance, for what he has always dreamt of doing but failed to do because of ignorance: My uncle has over time tucked N18, 000somewhere in his house, not knowing what to do with it. “So all this while I could have been a multiple car owner?” He asked rhetorically, remembering the N18,0000 he kept somewhere over the years.
“Just N7,000 and you get some change back,whereas I have been keeping an amount that could buy me almost three cars,” he told his visiting friend. That was how cheap a brand new Peugeot and other cars cost in Nigeria in the 1980s; that was whenyoung Nigerians had the luck of driving new cars; when Nigerians had dignity. Today, that has been lost. Today a brand new Peugeot vehicle goes for as high as many millions as the dealer wants to sellwhile second hand goes for over N2million.Nigerians now make do with tokunbo, the -Yoruba word for old or second hand goods. And anyone who struggles to buy the tokunbo throws a party and calls for celebration.
The saddest part of it is that even that tokunbo car of any brand is sold for cut-throat price. They go for as high as N2 million plus. I am only worried about our children and children’s children. They will grow up not knowing nor believing that times there were when money to buy a brand new vehicle were only contained in one side of one’s trouser pockets. Sadly, some of the tokunbo vehicles imported into Nigeria are locomotives; they pew out offensive noise just as they smoke round the city wherever they go. You identify those driving dilapidated grade of tukunbowith their hands – always dirty from adjusting the wires in the bonnet and scratching of battery head.They never are tired of begging passers-by, ‘Please help me make I parkam well’. And when you help push for some kilometres without any sign of the engine coming alive, then will you advise yourself.
These grades help in compounding our environmental waste issue: They hum and buzzaround for sometime with the ‘emergency car owner’ sweating all over, and when it stops will requiresome help before moving again. That is how pathetic the situation is for Nigerians. You may drive a car today but incapable of moving or being movedtomorrow unless it is dismantled; good only for drying of clothes and other items. The owner would be known as ‘once a car owner.’ That is how our social values have deteriorated. Motor vehicles are not the only areas affected. This is an issue we have to assess together, you and I. It cannot be a case of giving a dog a bad name. Our values have greatly and maliciously degenerated. Prices of everything are going through the roofs.
My little daughter was asking me the other day,‘Daddy why is it that the price of anything that goes up in Nigeria will never come down?’ I thought of what to answer without finding any immediate and satisfying answer for the young woman; for one, I did not know of what prompted her question in the first place. But after gnashing my teeth for a long while I was forced to groan in frustration and then said quietly. My dear daughter, just accept it that in Nigeria it is not only your age will go up without coming down, prices of everything that goes up will continue to go up, up, up and up they stay”’. That was the safest explanation. Those of us that have come through the 1980s here, can conveniently and honestly swear and testify that a lot of things about us have drastically changed in terms of values.
A lot have really changed for the worst. To commence it, cast back your mind to the return of democratic rule in Nigeria, a lot of small businesses have evidently sprung up in every nook and crannyof our communities. These are coming as ‘dividends of democracy’, where a lot of young men and women have been trained in skills acquisition. Go into the hinterlands down even to the remotest areas, at least, you will find some young men and women cutting paper bags, making soda soap or any other skills they acquired. There are lots of such other businesses that keep people engaged and at the end provide them with something to keep body and soul together.
These local or street entrepreneurs, as some of them choose to call themselves, aspire to keep expanding in their chosen areas including long range of circulation of their products. But all of them – from the big and international companies to small and individual producers have one consideration in mind: How to reduce the quality and size of their products but maximize their profits. Take example of something like candle. Our children and their children will grow up not knowing that there were times when candle was big enough to stand on the mouth of a beer bottle. Try it now and the thing will just go straight inside the bottle, just because it has been seriously reduced in size. Now, check out your favourite biscuits and sweets of the immediate-pasts.Are they still the same size they used to be? Certainly not.
I won’t mention any brand but check it out yourself and you will be sure of what is going on. All of them have greatly shrunk in size while the prices have gone up. What about canned food such as oats,custard and even tin fish? You needed to be familiar with these stuffs for you to understand that their quality has gone down. Sometimes, one keeps wondering if some people in business have their conscience with them. Even market women havetheir mind fixed and actually devise ways of conscious cheating. Go and buy something like garriand if you blink your eye, the seller could either turn the bottom of the cup to measure or double-count. Yet, everybody believes in God and also belongs to one church or another.
The faulty belief that everybody is free to help himself in any way he knows, because God helps those who help themselves keeps thriving. Bananas, plantains, orange, pawpaw and such other stuffs are not allowed to ripe again on their own. They are rather prepared and forced to get ready for market using all manner of ignoble means. Hot water, chemicals including dangerous ones are used to get the fruits ripe by force because somebody needs money urgently. By so doing they have forgotten about the health implications and taste lost in that process.
In services we are living at the mercies of artisans. People no longer value their name and professionalism. Quick money is it. You want to repair your home appliances? Then you are up in a sucker punch. First, you will be given some complicated, tongue-twisting and sometimes non-existing components in your appliances that you must give cash for their purchase. If they work on the material and it works, it will not be so painful. But in most cases, if you are not lucky you will be asked to pay for more components that may still end up not helping your case. That is how low Nigerians have turned in terms of morals. Truth no longer helps, money in the pocket does. Even preachers of the gospel are not left out in this get rich quick (GRQ) fray, especially those ‘funky’ preachers who would claim to have had a ‘calling’ without authentication.
They preach miracle and prosperity without miracle or prosperity. Prophesy must come in your case even when such prophesies are capable of destroying many homes and relationships. You will have to pay certain amount for counselling, another amount as prescribed by the preacher for the purchase of items for assignment. One way or another and, whether you like it or not, you must pay something. Some of them charge money for prayers which makes it commercial. Yet, the Bible says, ‘freely was it given and freely shall it be given”. Sorry, this is not to say that all prophesies are fake. Don’t believe that these are happening only in Christian churches. No! The same things are happening in the Mosques. Imams and other high profile Muslims have their ways of defrauding their members.
But the annoying part is that everything bad is blamed on government. Prices of goods and services are high and so government must take the blame. Food items are scarce that must be on government. The advice is for you to search all things as the Bible says and hold on to that which is good. You should learn that if people can use the name of God to deceive others then we are into real hard and tricky times. In fact, in this perilous times even our security agents are equally guilty. They calculate your steps to fault you. They are no longer peace-makers but trouble stimulators constantly praying for something to happen for them to capitalize on to frame you up. The police force seems the worst culprit in this game. The world appears to be nearing the end.
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