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BN Prose: Who Will Stand For Us?

Atoke

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“ Our people are resilient. They will adjust”

“Resilience is not stupidity. It is not right to treat people this way”

“What way? It is only right. We cannot continue to pay for something we cannot afford.  Besides, it is for the greater good of all of us. I mean everybody”

“What do you mean by everybody. The average man on the streets will die. They will go hungry and die”

“Why are you being so dramatic? They will not die, they will simply… ADJUST”

My dear Emmanuela,

I haven’t written a letter since secondary school and this feels a tad awkward, but then again I haven’t been able to charge my phone to send an e-mail and I read somewhere that actual writing out of one’s thoughts and feelings is therapeutic.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the darkness of my room. It is 4.50am and everywhere is quiet, well save for the random cockerel which is alerting us that it is dawn and we should get up and get on the grind again. The muezzin from down the road will soon start the call to prayer and that is usually my cue to get up, but today just feels different. There is a certain lethargy that comes from heaviness in my spirit and I cannot seem to be able to shake it off and that is why I am writing to you.

Ella, life was so much simpler when you were here or should I say more bearable because at least I had you to talk to and we could always share the travails of our days at work and all the stress that comes with living on one end of town and working on the other end.

I know I never told you this but when you said to me that you were leaving your job and going to join Daniel in America I was a bit skeptical about your decision. In the face of it, you were leaving a blossoming bank job and going into uncertainty; but last night I spent 45 minutes trying to get a bus after Yinka dropped me off at Obalende. There was no bus to Ketu. It was 9.30pm. We left the office at 8pm because we assumed that by that time the traffic should have eased out, but by the time we got on Ozumba Avenue, what we saw was nothing short of mayhem. Bus drivers had started facing oncoming traffic because there was an accident and the traffic monitoring officials had gone. The people had fallen into their natural state, driving like maniacs because there was nobody to control them. I stood at Obalende in utter fear, clutching my handbag so tightly it is a wonder it didn’t snap. You know how that place is full of hoodlums. By the time a bus finally came to take us to Ketu, the conductor was shouting that if we did not have 400Naira we should not get in. If you see the speed with which I entered ehn? People stood there complaining that they would not enter, but what is the alternative? I did not want to stand there till midnight or even worse, get robbed. I hurriedly jumped into the bus. We were there for another 30minutes, people struggling to decide if the bus driver would change his mind, of course he did not. They eventually settled and got in. I was not about to start a revolt at the bus park at 10pm abeg, I just wanted to get home in one piece. I adjusted myself to the price change.

“Has someone notified the Inspector General to be on standby?”

“Yes, he has been told that there may be some unrest in the country”

“That is funny. Unrest? Nigerians are not protesters, they are peaceful people. Who wants to die”

“Well, I don’t think you should think of it that way. This new policy is actually major and quite sudden”
“How is it sudden? Have we not been talking about it for months now? they knew it was coming. They knew”

Ella, I’m at a crossroads in my life right now. I am unsure of what lies ahead for me as an individual in this country. I am petrified of what lies ahead of us as a nation in general. I was mulling over the issue of whether I should start doing this my baking full time as opposed to going all the way to Lekki to this Graphic Prints job.  The Lagos State government and their concession company decided to finally start collecting toll on that Lekki road. I guess they were going to implement the toll collection anyway, but there were some protests against the fee and the manner of collection and the attendant traffic congestion that the logistics of the tolling would bring. As with everything in our country, nobody listens to the plight of the masses. Nobody cares.

I keep thinking it would be in my best interest to work from home especially with the removal of the fuel subsidy that has spiked the price of gasoline by over a 100%. The president announced that fuel prices were going up. I was even in Temilade’s house eating chicken and drinking red wine. You can imagine my shock and discomfiture at being outside Lagos and my trip back home was going to cost me double. The amazing thing is that young people decided to protest. I guess it only seemed the right thing to do. Our people have been oppressed for so long. Nobody is talking about cutting the recurrent expenditure of the government, the legislative arm is constantly approving millions of Naira as allowances for themselves, yet it is the removal of fuel subsidy that is important.

I am just tired and I know that I am not the only one. There is a silent brewing of unrest and the government does not seem to be alert. I sense that there is going to be an implosion and I am very afraid.

“Have you prepared the press release?”

“No I have not. I really am unsure of how to defend this. Even I don’t fully understand it”

“There is nothing to understand. Just say “some miscreants, who are uninterested in the progress of the Country are inciting people to protest and the government shall not treat such people, if and when caught, with kid gloves”

“I don’t think we should say that oh, this is a democracy after all”

“Democracy? Do you think the people have a mind of their own let alone decide what they want? They are constantly in need of self advancement and that my dear friend is what put us in power. Individual self advancement”

Sweetheart, do you remember how we used to always say that the sound of generators in the estate and the different beats they had were enough to start an engine orchestra? The sounds of that orchestra have been whittled down a whole lot. Nobody turns on their generators for more than two hours at a stretch. Even the Adebule’s have bought an inverter. When there is light, they charge it, and when there is no light, they stay in the darkness. Ali has started selling a lot of those Chinese battery operated lamps and torches, at least it provides the necessary illumination and of course the hand fans have become a party favorite.

One thing that is still baffling though is that there is no reasonable justification for the hardship that is being meted on the everyday man. I mean people like me who have to get up and go at the crack of dawn everyday to earn a living. In the midst of this immense suffering and poverty we have the people who are still benefitting from this. They say the subsidy is to help allow the government in the development of infrastructure, but I do not see any changes. A wise man once said, if a man is faithful with little things, he will be faithful with much more. What has been done with the existing money in the government purse? Squandered and diverted into a few hands, that is what. What will happen when they have more money at their disposal… your guess is as good as mine.

I can hear the call to prayer now. I really have to get up and shower now. Thankfully I was able to straighten out a shirt last night when Nepa gave us light for 30 minutes.

I really miss being able to talk to you and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Lots of love and affection from your sister,

Elizabeth

Photo Credits: Focusonlinecommunities.com

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

38 Comments

  1. HRHJay

    January 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Fantastic prose!

  2. Bani Productions

    January 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    You can imagine those who have no generators…

    “Nigerians are peaceful people”? No, we are weak. It’s only on issues of aso-ebi and parties and useless frivolities that we are willing to kill ourselves. For a collective good, not so much.

  3. cathy

    January 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    we just have to stand up for ourselves, nobody is ready to do it alone. nice piece

  4. Olu

    January 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    “The man died who stayed quiet in the face of injustice”
    Every decent person needs to stand up and fight this or nothing will change. Fuel subsidy in Naija is akin to the welfare state in the UK and I know what will happen if any Government withdraw it unilaterally with 24hrs notice – instant revolution!

  5. subsidyfriendly

    January 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    “some miscreants, who are uninterested in the progress of the Country are inciting people to protest and the government shall not treat such people, if and when caught, with kid gloves” – My very concern about the labour strike taking off on Monday 9th.
    with the ongoing, i doubt if Nigerians are really ready to fight for their right! time will tell.

  6. Foxy

    January 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This piece is rated 100, very well written

  7. D Pretty

    January 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Hmmmmm…We cant go on like this. D govt dat was meant to be for the people is now against the people.
    It is well.
    NICE ONE Ronke

  8. partyrider

    January 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Great read..
    Like i said on the day the subsidy was removed,Nigerians are selfish,very selfish infact.Everybody want to go to heaven but nobody wants to die..and because our leaders know this is our weakness,they take advantage of us and trample on us.
    it will be very difficult to pull a revolution like Egypt..you have youths who can’t be bothered,those who are willing to just manage and adjust after complaining and those you dont even know what is happening in the country..
    we have a very long road ahead..however if we dont take a stand very soon,our children may not know a country called ‘Nigeria’ and a lot of us may not be alive to tell this story.

  9. Anon

    January 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Excellent prose! It addresses all of the questions I myself ponder upon. The government does not care for the masses. They allocate billions of naira in allowances and yet expect the common man to adjust. This struggle is not about the removal subsidy, this struggle is for change in the government. No more corruption.

    * I always ask myself what I can do apart from typing on social websites because like most people, I am scared of being out there protesting. *

  10. emmy

    January 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Good piece. “What has been done with the existing money in the government purse?” my attention is particularly drawn to this important question. In a country where the Government sits on a transparent chair this question would have been long addressed for all the masses to be informed on Government’s financial policies. We must stand up to end all this RUBBISH in this country.

  11. gbemi

    January 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    U gaze upon my very thoughts…well said

  12. Cutie Toxie

    January 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Did anyone else notice that Elizabeth seemed to be giving the common man’s response to a conversation between the government officials 🙂

  13. Myne Whitman

    January 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Well written, and very apt. Which way Nigeria?

  14. Mary007

    January 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    This is a well written piece, it sums it all up. What will happen is another mass exodus cos that’s how Nigerians survive. I was told Nigerians are now in places like China, India and even Pakistan. It’s sad cos this story is real. My cousin is lamenting as her house rent in lekki has being reviewed even after an agreement was signed

  15. ifeoma n.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    wonderful write up!!!!!!!! our leaders av taaken us for granted. we as nigerians av reached our elastic limits.

  16. Kems

    January 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Well said!

  17. Hormo

    January 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Nice piece

  18. Funto

    January 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    People let this not end at nice piece! People let us stand up for once!

  19. Purpleicious Babe

    January 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Well written….

    I cant imagine what the pain will feel like But I know one thing for sure, the president and its officials will not be at peace. The common man will definitely feel the pinch. Yes, I will pray eventhough it seems prayer is what we can do best and yet little changes are made. I will still pray because this is what I know to be the best option. I pray for GRACE. GRACE in everything, to cope, to adjust, to be positive although in tears and in pain. I pray for grace to endure and overcome, that no matter what the Govt decides to inflict pain, it will back fire but grace to remain positive is what I desire.

    Abacha am sure did his part and we did not die, we survived. We are survivors that is what we do best. The situation in Nigerian is no different from other countries that makes rules/legislation that has K leg and not accountable at all. However, it is argued that this is done for the greater future of the masses.

    My point is: they have made the law, it is hard and unbearable, its most likely people will protest but will that bring about any change? The Govt, made a strategic decision, which in my view and would have had some sort of consideration (it was either voted for or against, am not sure about Niaj political system, it all seems corrupt, even then, for any corruption to take place, there has to be an agreement). I bet the overall conclusion is that we will adjust.

    Its most likely we will ADJUST, and adjust and adjust and keep adjusting untilllll………only God knows when.. but then again every nation has issues that makes u sick to ur stomach sometimes, but u still have adjust.

    I really do hope they use that extra funds for the infrastructure of the Nation for their own logical and pathetic reasons, this is because if they fail(which most likely am dreading not to think). Then Nigerians do not need govt. for what is their point and their purpose when they have failed themselves as individuals and the nation in general.

    MY PEOPLE, let learn to share each other transportation, let decide to split the bill and do it accordingly. If the govt makes a strategic move, we too should do our own. Yes, it can be easy, it is all in the mind……. what u profess is what will come to reality.

    it is well.

    http://lifeinstagesdoz.blogspot.com/

  20. nich

    January 5, 2012 at 1:12 am

    the just finished the meeting in abuja and the idiots are seen smilling,….the conclusion is that the subsidy must go on………

    my advice for any nigerian youth is this……..live the country if u can……..but b4 living, learn a skill like truck driving, barbing, hair dressing……abroad nigerian certificate is never accepted….

    the people who succeed quick abroad are REGISTERED NURSES, the make huge amount of money and their certificate is often accepted in europe, australia, newzealand and the carribeans. the countries only require that you sit for board exam which many nigerians are passing the exam.

    if you do not have anybody abroad this is how you can start your journey, ghana or south africa,……then procced to the bahamas,…………………but you must have a skill please and not certificate………it is not too late to start with ur plans if you already have a job in nija or a sponsor………….life is a choice. this is my advicw to any youth that is wise

    • damaris

      January 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

      i i totally agree to your sugesstions 🙂

    • partyrider

      January 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      What an advice…kmt!
      And then who will build Nigeria? everybody runs out,how has that solved the problem..if you are a coward,not everybody is.why cant you build your country so others can run away from theirs to yours..i’m so pissed at your suggestion that i find stupid..is it the person that can’t afford to eat 3 square meals that will be able to buy a plane ticket,or the poorest of the poor should be left to suffer? what a disappointing thing to say,its people like you that will NEVER allow Nigeria grow… selfishness.and please dont think its been smart..you think all those abroad are having a swell time yeah? *hiss*
      Youths are laying their lives for change and you come up with this..how disappointing.Nonsense!!

  21. Missa

    January 5, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Beautiful write up, d question continues 2 b “who will stand for us?” I find myself hopin dt GEJ has a master plan but deep dwn inside I no he is 2 weak and clueless. Like the writer pointed out wat has d govt dne wit wat is in the govt purse that dey hv decided 2 tk away d only benefit d nation ws enjoying ? Are dey goin 2 put our refineries in ordet? D answer is no! God fight 4nigeria!

  22. nich

    January 5, 2012 at 2:31 am

    They came out from the meeting saying that they are going to give provide transit buses to the masses…………………

    so sorry for this nation called nigeria………why did they not provide the buses for transport without removing the fuel subsidy…………….

    the government claims that some cabals and cliques in the government has been mis-using the money…..why not arrest those people………..,.laughs…..laughs

    any youth who still think that this country would be better even after 20yrs from now should still think again

  23. nich

    January 5, 2012 at 3:38 am

    46 buses to each state…..some people will buy this idea and be forever deceived……..

    here is the thing? the buses will break down in 6months……..then what happens

  24. adadadi

    January 5, 2012 at 6:16 am

    TOo sick in hart and mind to bother to wit this. Wen most ppl have given up Wats the point.

  25. Tess

    January 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

    My points exactly! What happened to our Govt officials sacrificing some of their allowance that run into billions of Naira? What happened to Govt. giving us light, free transportation and other social amenities before taking away subsidy? Anyway, they don’t join buses, they don’t queue up to buy fuel, they don’t go to the market, they will never feel an inch of the many sufferings they’ve put us into. So, who cares? God will help us.

  26. haddy

    January 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

    fantastic piece. i love!

  27. simi

    January 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Perfect, apt, a detailed description of the jungle we are in and full of emotion.

  28. jess

    January 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    *sigh* I would not get tired of talking. How long will all of this continue? The so called officials know nothing of the hardship Nigerians have to bear on a daily basis. They sit in their vehicular devices and cruise with their air conditioners blowing full force without a second thought to the people they are leading. I hope Karma catches up with everyone who is a party to making life difficult for the residents of this country.

  29. kryx

    January 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    lala…cudnt agree more…GEJ is inciting a revolution,,,,but we just hope 4 d kwikest solution

  30. nich

    January 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    they have asked the tv and radio stations not to say anything about it or face arrest…………….now tell me …is this not the height of it….

  31. ty

    January 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    http://lindaikeji.blogspot.com/2012/01/this-is-why-we-need-to-fight-this-fuel.html

    Just saw this and thot I shld share… It is like our country is gradually gooing from depression to super repression (if there is anything like that…

  32. Efe

    January 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Why in the world do we want to pull a revolution like Egypt et al? Where has it taken them? To the Muslim brotherhood, a government even more cruel than the previous. I’m all for revolution, but please know whether what you’re fighting against is for your good or not. If you’re fighting against something for your good, you are an idiot, if against your good then you’re smart. Don’t tear down the person that is actually doing something to put money in your hands in the long run.

  33. Nifesimi

    January 7, 2012 at 2:33 am

    What have they done with the money that’s in the purse? How about the looted funds they claimed to have recovered? If they didn’t do anything with all that money they won’t do anything with this too except to squander it.

  34. Free Zumba Online

    January 26, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Your page is the greatest I have seen for a long time!

  35. Spirit animals

    February 2, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Very good written article. It will be valuable to anyone who employess it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts.

  36. edgar gonzales

    February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    i was usually intersted i this subject and still ‘m, thanks for placing it up

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