…Nigerians lament, say ‘we’re now living in hell’


By Salaudeen Omoniyi, Christy Anyanwu, Olakunle Olafioye, Daniel Kanu, Agatha Emeadi


On Wednesday, the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration will be one year old.

For ordinary Nigerians, the one year has been one of severe difficulties. Thus most of the masses said that the administration has performed far below their expectations, lamenting that they are now living in hell in the country.

Right from the moment President Tinubu summarily declared the end of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol, while delivering his first speech after being sworn into office, the country has been in grips of worsening hardship as the administration continues to tinker with the economy, trying various policy initiatives, ranging from increased taxes, charges, rising Customs duty, to higher fees charged for various services rendered by government departments and agencies.

The only thing that has resulted from the implementation of these policies is the continuous rise in the cost of living and further pauperisation of the masses and seeming decimation of the middle class.

Ask somebody like Pastor Johnson Ogbuagu about his assessment of the present administration, he readily retorted that “Nigeria is going the wrong path” even as he attributed the cause to bad leadership, which he said is “insensitive, uncaring, selfish and without conscience.”

Not done venting his anger and frustration, Ogbuagu added: “It is sad that despite all that God endowed the country with, we are still backwards.

“Leadership is the capacity to see beyond and above the ordinary eyes, the capacity to see solution and apply it for the general interest.

In Nigeria because of ethnicity, corruption, religious sentiment, we deny competent people who have the capacity to lead in the interest of the people the opportunity of leadership.

“It is worrisome that for over 60 years after Independence, Nigeria remains a toddler and still walking in circles with a bad economy, insecurity, inefficient education, hunger and so much hardship.

“Every government seems to be worse than the previous one. It’s time for the people to unite in their poverty and frustration to redeem their land and say enough is enough.”

For Gbenga Ogundare, a fashion designer, since last year has been hellish for people like him.

“We are at a time when Nigerians are more concerned about feeding their families and attending to their children’s education. It is only after they have been able to meet up with their major financial obligations that people buy and sew clothes.

“So, patronage has been so poor and this is really rubbing off on us; it is people like us that have been mostly affected by this Tinubu government because we barely have enough to take home for our families. Our hope for better days, which they promised us when they were contesting, have been completely dashed.

“It is sad that people are now tired of praying for improvement; rather the people’s prayer is that the situation should not take a turn for the worse because it is obvious that people have been pushed to the wall and any further push could crash the wall on all of us. May God forbid!”

In the Ijaiye area of Lagos metropolis where Abolade Matthew, an automobile mechanic, has his vehicle repair shop at the mechanic village, the battle for survival had never been this hard and harsh.

As he told Sunday Sun, the last one year has been the worst for him since he began working as a master-mechanic.

His words: “Even as an apprentice, I can’t recall when the situation was as dry as this in terms of patronage. Since Tinubu announced the removal of subsidy on petrol, so many people that I know now use their vehicles sparingly and this simply translates to reduced patronage of automobile mechanics. In effect, life has become so difficult because it is when people bring their vehicles for repairs that one can begin to think of getting money.

“There was a time I had nothing to do for close to two weeks. Yet I kept coming to the workshop in the hope that customers might come, wasting money on transport. It has never been this bad.”

Away from the biting hardship pummeling most Nigerians, an estate agent, Okey Nwokocha, would rather talk about the controversial outcome of the 2023 presidential election which saw Asiwaju Tinubu being declared elected.

The subsequent challenge to the victory failed as both the tribunal and the Supreme Court affirmed that he was duly elected.

Okey Nwokocha somewhat adamantly refused to accept the reality of Tinubu being the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria till the next election cycle in 2027.

Notwithstanding this indisputable fact, Nwokocha unyieldingly declared: “My position as far as Tinubu is concerned is that I see him as somebody sitting on another person’s mandate.

“We must be sincere to ourselves and with the fear of God in us. We should know that the election and  the rest did not favour him. Tinubu and his cohorts  imposed themselves on Nigeria. We all witnessed the declaration of the results, all the court cases. I can say the gospel truth that it is a stolen mandate.

“For me, I’m not seeing him as my president until the day Nigeria will have a free and fair election  and declare the rightful winners then I will start seeing the person as my president.

“I don’t see him as the president of Nigeria because  the mandate does not belong to him. It is a stolen mandate.”

Nwokocha may not be alone among Nigerians who are angry with the Tinubu presidency triggered by biting hardship.

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In the face of the hardship, President Tinubu and other government officials have continued to implore Nigerians to endure, promising that the situation will ease off when the government’s economic policies begin to take root and bring forth new, green shoots of progress. However, Dayo Babatunde, ace model and fashion designer, said: “The past year has been one of suffering. The government should make life comfortable for Nigerians first. They said we should endure and endure suffering. For how long must we endure?

“People are dying out of suffering. Do you know how many of my friends have died of high blood pressure?

“They were selling rice at cheaper rates. Do you know how many people died because they were struggling for rice, out of hunger. They died because they wanted to buy rice at a cheaper rate. Electricity is not stable, fuel is not affordable. I can’t do the things I want to do. You can’t access medical support, you have to pay for everything.

“Look at the sachet milk we used to buy at N20, with N100, you will get five, but now you can only get one sachet at N150. If I want to drink tea now, at least I have to spend N500 to drink tea in the morning.

“It is not that salaries have increased, but prices of goods keep going higher. A bag of rice cost N80,000. I went to ‘Mamaput’ to eat. I thought I could just spend N500. On getting there, they said one spoon is N300. How many spoon will I buy?”

What Tinubu should do

Babatunde has one piece of advice for President Tinubu: “Whatever he is doing, let him focus on the masses first. We need accessibility to cheaper food. Burkina Faso does not have money like Nigeria, but look at what they are doing. Their president is not buying luxury cars. I just appeal to him to look inwards.

“Look at what Putin is doing in his country. Nobody in his country is complaining, but in Nigeria, people are dying for no reason due to hunger and medical negligence. I’m over 60 years old, how long do I have on earth to continue to suffer?

“There is no support for creative people in this country and you must be a politician before things would go well for you. Thank God for Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who is doing an empowerment programme in Surulere, but you should not give people peanuts. It is better to get them established.”

In the opinion of Ben Ekundayo, an Uber driver, the country is bleeding and everyone knows. “Even the foreigners are complaining,” he told Sunday Sun reporter, who booked a ride with him.

“Today, the traffic is enormous just because of little rain, and everywhere is flooded. Nobody can go to work, people are trekking. Short trips which used to cost N100 in a commuter box has gone up and now N1,000.

“Honestly, the man’s administration is zero, nobody is happy. Even you journalist, asking me this question, are you happy?”

“We have always complained about bad governance. We complained about Obasanjo, we complained about Jonathan, we complained about Buhari. Tinubu’s record of poor performance has surpassed all of them.

“As much as food is available, the poor doesn’t care about who is in power. After elections, they move on with their lives. But in this case, Tinubu has done something unusual. Not only that his policies have made people poorer, he has taken food off the table of the common man. We can no longer afford one meal per day. A small bucket of tomatoes is N10,000. Rice is now an exclusive food for the rich. The only thing we enjoy freely is the air we breathe. It has been one year of woes and lamentation. It has never been this bad. People are gasping for breathe,” Mr Aderibigbe, a retired teacher, who lives in Surulere, Oja Alayo, Ogun State, said.

Alfa Kola, a battery charger, who lives in Adebisi, El Shaddai Bus Stop, Iyana Iyesi, Ota, Ogun State, is one other Nigerian who is also disenchanted with the poor performance of the Tinubu administration.

He blamed the government for not doing something concrete about the state of public power supply.

“Since Tinubu came to power, his administration has not been able to solve a single problem. I am a battery charger. For more than one week now, the light in my shop has not blinked for a second. How do you want me to feed my family? Most of these Okada riders you see are artisans, they resort to Okada because of one problem or the other. Yet, the removal of subsidies has forced many of them out of business. That is why there is an increase in crime and criminality. We don’t know where we are headed. No money, no food, no dignity. They have dealt with us,” he lamented.

Also, Mama Princess, who roasts plantain, yam and potatoes at Powerline bus stop, near Ejigbo, is not left out of many Nigerians who are currently suffering.

She is the typical daily income earner, who is struggling to train her daughter in the university.

Her situation is so relatable when she talks about her struggles in the face of the hardship she is passing through to feed her children.

“We daily income earners, we have seen hell. I have a daughter in the university, if not for her upkeep, I would have closed down my business. First, the tubers of yam we used to buy at N1,000 now costs N3,000. The prices of both plantain and potatoes have gone up too.

“One would need to cut the yam, roast and serve with other ingredients. To enable us to recover the cost and make a profit, we have had to reduce the sizes of the slices that we sell for N50. Our regular customers are tricycle (Keke Marwa) drivers, commercial motorcyclists (Okada riders) and other traders. These people who would patronize us are also trying to save money too, to meet the needs of their families. Everybody is crying,” she said in pain.

Take the case of a popular groundnut seller in Ikotun, in front of the old NEPA bus stop, where there are several bank branches nearby. It is a place that daily has high traffic of pedestrians, walking to the banks to collect money and deal with one issue or the other. Others could be people going to the Irepodun Market close to the secretariat of Igando Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA).

As they pass, many stop by to buy the sweet groundnut of Mama Iyke, a native of Ebonyi State and grandmother, reputed for the special way she ties the transparent cellophane wraps of fried groundnuts snack she sells.

In these hard times, she showed a strong unwillingness and bluntly refused to give a little extra to a customer that had just bought five bottles of groundnut from her. In the ensuing drama and verbal exchange between her and the customer, she screamed: “No, I will not add ooo. One paint of groundnut is now N6,000, including the gas for frying, nylon to wrap it and transportation from my house to the market. I have been in this business for the last 12 years, since 2012 till date, I have not experienced this kind of thing I am seeing now. Does Tinubu want all of us to die? The government said it came to renew our hope. Instead, what we are experiencing is renewed suffering and hardship that started under Buhari. It is now that people are understanding what President Tinubu said during the campaigns, when he vowed to continue from where Buhari stopped. The only thing I can say is that Tinubu should do something to help the poor masses, by reducing the high cost of living. People are dying of hunger.”

Nothing has changed

The stark reality, Jerry Chinazom, an entertainer, surmised is that there is no change at all: “In fact, things have gotten worse. Life was much better when Buhari was there.In fact,  life was best when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was ruling. We know that change will not come just like that,  but when we Nigerians really want the change, the change will come. I think life will start getting better if he’s going to drop the subsidy.

“Most of the businesses are closing down. People are engaging on technology to survive, by doing their business online, except the looters, crooks or those who have been into business for years are the ones surviving in this clime since this administration.

“Fuel is expensive, people can’t move freely; there’s so much hunger on the street, young men and young women are not finding it easy at all. What Tinubu has done is zero, nothing is happening. Rather money has been siphoned and nothing is happening.

“The country needs to elect another person who can turn things around. I’m not even talking about  Peter Obi here. We are done with all these old people. We wwants young man to take the mantle of leadership in this country. It is best for the young people to take over the country now, because life is worse than what we  used to experience in this country now.”

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