COVID-19 is back and with a vengeance. The steady increase in the number of people who are infected every day is not the only source of worry. This time around, fatalities are on a worrying rise too. And with the government still tinkering with the idea of imposing a lockdown, it’s safe to say we have continued from where we were in 2020. Nevertheless, the coronavirus is not the sole source of concern for the Nigerian, these days, a citizen of the most populous black nation in the world has to make peace with the idea that he may wake up to a blocked telephone line, no thanks to the ill-timed directive to get the National Identification Number registration done.
Three things are certain in life: rain, tax, and Nigerians bashing their government for glaring ineptitude. Small pockets of conversations, large gatherings, a night out with friends, and commuter small talks have lamentations of irresponsibility on government’s path as a core feature. And this discontent that gives rise to criticism is valid. There’s no reconciling the abundance mother nature bestowed on Nigeria with her dismal socio-economic state.
As 2020 winds down, many things have changed around us. The optimism and hope that often heralds the pending dawn of a new year are missing, for good reason too. Everyone is cautious about their expectations from the coming year because of the many shocks 2020 served. But while a lot of changes have occurred in the way we live and our disposition to events, what has remained unchanged is the deep divide when it comes to opinions about the way Nigeria is currently run. The “hailers” and “wailers” within the polity have maintained their stance regarding national issues.
Quite often, we talk about how different social media is from the real world. We allude to the interactions that happen between strangers in the virtual community as incomparable to what obtains when people can see each other and gauge firsthand emotions. While online mediums represent ivory towers: a cocoon of sorts where realities of physical living take a backseat, it’s imperative to understand that humans exist behind the thoughts, banters, and interactions on social platforms. It is the inability to recognise this that results in uncomfortable or embarrassing situations.
In the last couple of years, it hasn’t really felt like Christmas was in the air in November or even early December. This year, it’s even worse. The travails of 2020 have subdued many of us. Because we are just grateful to be alive, we aren’t too bothered about the yuletide or whether we’ll get to do our favourite things during that time. However, the realisation that the bills are no respecter of COVID-19 and other sundry challenges is enough to jolt us from the state of inertia if we ever dare to remain in it for too long.
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.
If there’s any lesson to be learned from the events of the past week, it is that every individual must possess an appreciable level of fight in them. The cojones to say enough is enough, the willingness to risk it all if need be in pursuit of what they want. The gumption to speak up when it matters despite natural temperament. What will happen if you do not toe this path, you may ask. Well, you will most likely live a life of dissatisfaction as a result of your docility. And you may tell yourself that’s fine, but deep within…many years down the line, you will rue your cowardice.
I had a friend who thought I was a genius. Each time we were in a gathering and there was some knotty issue or a word everyone was struggling to understand, he would turn to me and announce that Lolade would have the answer. When it came to words, he saw me as a walking dictionary. I warned him that he would one day embarrass the both of us when I came up blank after one of his random “Lolade would know it” episodes. Thankfully, that never happened. But it could have because my friend couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had quite a few vulnerable moments during my university days. Days when I struggled to juggle the demands of school work and life outside of school. Days when I loathed hostel life and the idea of having a roommate because a girl just needs to be alone sometimes. There were many challenges, and of course, there were good times. But I can never forget that ONE time I was constipated.
I remember when I was a newbie driver some 12 years ago. I was excited; I was thrilled because finally, I could get into a car and move it on the road by myself. Without the help of a driving instructor or friend. My “learner vehicle” was an old, hitherto abandoned Mazda 626 which had to be retrieved from the mechanic’s workshop for my driving lessons. It was a car none of my siblings would touch with a long pole because it would “demarket” them. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to drive and anything on wheels was good enough.