Recently, the Lagos State government delivered the annual Land Use Charge notice to our residence. In previous years, the charge varied between N3,500 and N7,000 in previous years, However, in the year of the Lord 2020, someone thought it was a brilliant idea to increase the tax by more than 1,600%. Yes, you read right. We got a charge of over N113,000 as Land Use Charge when we do not live on a yacht.
Of course, we will be at their office to contest the preposterous bill, but I suspect that move will only guarantee a slight reprieve; we will still be asked to cough out a fee that borders on outrageous when compared to what we paid in the past. It’s not just infuriating, but sad. Sad because in a year that everyone has struggled and had their finances affected in no small measure by a protracted novel pandemic and other endemic factors, the government that should be the first to display empathy opted to do the opposite.
They say time flies but anytime I remember May 2023 is still two and a half years away, I am almost convinced the day may never come. Time is crawling at the moment. For the impoverished Nigerian, time might as well be still because there’s nothing to inspire optimism in the polity right now. Makes me wonder how many people will seek greener pastures or sink into depression before we get the opportunity to change governments.
This bleak outlook on things is not because I am a pessimist. In fact, I may be one of the few who always try to maintain high spirits despite untoward circumstances. And I may not be doing too badly in the Nigerian context, but my personal status does not negate the reality of the current prognosis which doesn’t look good. And on that score, it’s difficult to muster confidence at this time.
I know Nigerians will survive. We always do. We are the e go better proponents; championing an abstract philosophy that has no bearing on our physical reality. We say things will get better even when all the facts and predictions reveal otherwise.
Yes, many of us will live to see 2023 and cast our votes again, but at what cost?
How many more #EndSARS protesters will be harassed, arrested, and detained unlawfully before 2023? How many more people will we lose to brigandage and kidnapping in the next two years?
We get to determine who steers the ship of Nigeria only once in four years. Almost half of a decade in a clime where life expectancy is short. Many changes can occur in a humans life in a space of four years: “kids” who were ineligible to vote come into adulthood and can now have their say in political discourses. A school leaver becomes a university graduate in four years, let alone the countless people who change multiple jobs, move cities, get married, and have kids.
Four years is a long time.
It’s why a year and a half into it, it still feels like we are only just getting started.
The way to know the circumstances are dire is the exorbitant cost of food, a commodity no one can do without. These days, a trip to the market is an extreme sport—one that could result in sudden heart palpitations, crankiness, and induced worry cum anger. Food, that economics classify as a basic need for all categories of humans has mutated into a luxury good. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if news filters in that we now have to pay VAT on garri, rice, and other meal staples in Nigerian homes.
And premium motor spirit? Arrghh, almost sure I just felt a pang in my chest.
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s pretty difficult to see how fuel price won’t rise to N200 per litre by the first quarter of 2021. In a season when many have lost their means of livelihood, government agencies continue to play blind to the struggles of the Nigerian.
If the general elections were a couple of months or even a year away, I’d take solace in the knowledge that I can channel my displeasure with the status quo through the ballot, alas, I am stuck with different levels of incompetence and sheer wickedness at all levels.
Now you know why I am wondering what my disposition should be until 2023 crawls in.