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Tuesday, 04 July 2023 06:58

[OPINION] Signs of The Times - Reuben Abati

The times have indeed changed indicating how policy shifts can affect the people’s mood and habits and the environment in which we live. Following the removal of fuel subsidy and the harmonization of the foreign exchange regime, Nigerians have been compelled to make radical changes in how they live. Has anyone noticed the sharp reduction in the number of vehicles on Lagos roads and the disappearance of traffic gridlock in some parts of the city? With fuel now selling between N488 -N570 per litre across the country, it takes some people on the average up to N40, 000 or more to fill their vehicle’s fuel tanks. Within the same period that the cost of fuel has increased, electricity has also become very expensive, even if the electricity companies are still threatening to hike their tariffs. Inflation is as high as 22.41%, and would most certainly continue to rise.

 

Vehicle owners have learnt to choose their travels within the city carefully, gone are those days when it was fashionable to drive here and there. We are all going through a season of serious adjustment. In many homes, light is switched on only when it is needed to check the meter from going haywire. And yet in this same country, once upon a time, you could switch on all the lights in your apartment, and even leave those lights on when not at home. Nobody can afford to do that anymore. The street as they say in popular lingo is not smiling. Salaries have not been increased, the price of everything including tomato and onions has gone up, a loaf of bread, which used to be a common man’s favourite is now an expensive item on the family menu. Last week was the annual Eid-el-adha, the festival of sacrifice. Very few families could afford to buy and slaughter rams. A moderate-size ram was about N175, 000- that used to be the price of a very big cow. To buy a cow now, these days, you’d need close to N500, 000.

 

In those days, around the Eid-el-Kabir festival, it was possible to see young children going to the field with the rams that their parents had bought for the occasion. There was something called ram fight: an exciting game whereby rams are set against each other to head butt one another. The rams had names and there was a prize for the champion ram. It wasn’t all fun, some rams that went up against a tough challenger could simply slump and die. I didn’t see any young men fighting with rams in open fields this year. No parent would even have allowed anybody to gamble with a ram of N175, 000. It was generally a very moderate celebration around town except in Ijebu Ode where the usual post-Ileya Ojude Oba was held as is the tradition, three days after the festival. The Ojude Oba lived up to its reputation as a cavalcade of colour, music, dance, and memorable advertisement of the richness of Yoruba culture and artistry. I noticed though that many of the persons that I know who used to stay behind in Ijebu-Ode for days after the festival, quickly rushed back to Lagos.

 

One of them confessed that the times have truly changed. His landlord had just served notice that the rent in the building where he lives would go up by 200% by January 2024, due to the rising cost of building materials, and the depreciation of the Naira. He rushed back to Lagos to engage the landlord wondering how the landlord of a house built more than two decades ago can possibly complain about the high cost of building materials. The man told my friend that we are now in the era of market forces, and that rent is also subject to the forces of demand and supply. We have been on that matter since last week!

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