Citizens may stay at home, but hunger will push them out – Hunger will not stay at home! Hunger respects no social distancing regulations. Only food solves the matter. Yes, joking aside!
Things have changed. Prices of stuff have gone up. And you know how it is in Nigeria, what goes up hardly comes down especially when it has to do with money…price.
Only the middle and the upper class in our Nigerian social construct can ‘vex’ and go to the market and buy and buy until the barn is full.
The poor can’t try that. They smile and make friends with sellers of especially food materials because in the absence of friendliness, they might not get their belly filled as prices would dictate what they buy and can’t.
In Nigeria today, especially since the dawn of COVID-19 and PANIC-BUYING pandemic, things have not been the same for millions of people. It’s only those who can afford the bulk buying that can go to the major markets to stock up the house but hundreds of thousands of families cannot go further than their street markets.
This can only mean further higher costs.
But it’s still okay because it’s in hundreds, and a few thousands of Naira. 10,000 and above is on another level entirely for many families. The costs are on them. They bear everything.
I was at a street grocery shop where I went to gist with the vendor. While at it, a pregnant woman walked into our discussion and severed it with her request. She bought between 3-5 things. Guess how much was her total purchase.
That woman gave me more reason to write this piece.
Many Nigerians, including me – at least for now, hardly feed when we don’t sell on a daily basis. Some are even worse because the whole business – capital plus profit is not up to 5,000 Naira. This is not a joke, you’ll find these people on the streets and in reality, they are in their millions.
A paint rubber measure of Garri now sells for between 800 and 1,200 Naira. Garri was sold at that same measure for 350-500.
I personally experienced something yesterday. I bought my usual amount of pepper and Tomatoes. Usually around 350-400 Naira. What we got was significantly less than the quantity we usually get.
The implications are that those who could afford 3 course meals have either lost one or have to reduce their daily rations to this PANIC BUYING pandemic and STAY AT HOME order.
Let’s digress a bit into Hand Sanitisers.
WHO wants us all to be safe and protected by using Hand Sanitisers. Since I have been advertising our Afrilewa Hand Sanitiser, (Afrilewa Limited is a Cosmetics company with experience and capacity in chemical formulations and is the producer of the Afrilewa hair care products made of natural and essential oils) I have not seen or received any request from a lower class Nigerian for our 250ml or 500ml Hand Sanitiser. This means they cannot afford it. So how do they comply with the directives of WHO or our local authorities on staying safe in public places?
While I acknowledge the actions of opportunists to rip people off and make unholy profits from this bad situation, I want to also draw the attention of the public to the major reason some sincere producers are finding it hard to reduce price of hand sanitisers to enable poor people also buy and use.
As at January 2020, Carbopol 940, a major ingredient in hand sanitiser was sold at 6,000 Naira per kg but as at my last confirmation in March, it was 20,000+. What about the popular Isopropyl Alcohol? As at the same period, it was 600 Naira or less per litre in January but in March, it was 2,000+ per litre. Can you all feel the pains of producers?
A big question. If I am asked to stay at home when I can only eat from my daily earnings yet without any help or provision for feeding, how can I stay obedient to authority? How can I remain sane and alive for 14+ days?
When the government gives laws and policies, I appeal that they mix it with humanity and kindness so they will not end up growing dissident and anarchy-fostering citizens. They must ensure their policies are reasonably practicable.
The US Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin said, after Mitt Romney proposed sending $1,000 cheques to Americans, that the value of the payments would be “bigger than what’s in the press”. Further to this, the payment would be made DIRECTLY to the beneficiaries and not from one office or ministry to the other and not from or through one ‘Oga at the top’ to the other.
In addition to this guide to ensure this stay at home is justified, evidential and humane, our Nigerian governments should try to regulate and monitor prices of essential commodities like all staple foods and health care products. I remember the picture is seen online where youths of a particular locality stormed the market and poured away the Garri of any trader selling above normal price acceptable. This is a self-help approach which the government should not push their citizens to resort to.
Taarifa reports that Rwanda has already fined 108 businesses for hiking food prices. Not only that, they also warned their citizens against panic buying. This will, no doubt, have come with the Rwandan government’s intentional efforts towards educating and protecting their citizens in one breath of action more than a ton of talks and promises.
Someone gave a report of how he hung bread outside his compound just to test the people and see how hunger is truly and deeply biting Nigerians. Behold, the next morning, he didn’t meet the bread there. Could a rat or monkey or cow or cat or ant or even a lion have eaten it? No! he said, because he deliberately placed it where nothing except humans could have seen or reached it.
When hunger is out of the equation, the poverty issue is solved. Hunger doesn’t stay at home!
Let’s be our brothers keeper, let’s do what is right!