by Cheta Nwanze
Dem belly full but we hungry
A hungry mob is an angry mob
A rain a-fall but the dirt, it tough
A pot a-cook but the food no ‘nough
The poster above, was posted after Adolf Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany by Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler insisted on elections to solidify his mandate, and the elections happened. Unlike Tessy May in Britain 84 short years later, he won. The first three lines of the poster here are pretty significant.
In eight months two and a quarter million of your fellow countrymen were able to get work and bread.
It is said that an intelligent man is one who changes his mind when newer information becomes available.
In 2014, I wrote this piece about why there will never be a revolution in Nigeria. I ended it by saying that there will never be a revolution in Nigeria because the food will never run out.
I have to say that new information is available. There is hunger in the land.
Each month, my employer sends some of us out into the field to gather data on food prices. The prices we gather go beyond just the ingredients for Jollof Rice, but being that that particular meal is popular all over Nigeria, it made sense to use it as a measure. At the end of each quarter, we put together a composite which we call The Jollof Index. The graphs, are interesting. One of them is shown here…
While it is true that the price rises slowed down, the point is they are still rising. Wages are not keeping up. Not nearly, implying that people are simply unable to keep up. More and more Nigerians are falling below the poverty line. What is the net effect of that? Angrier people.
One of the parts of our index was asking people their reactions to what is happening, and their prospects for the future. Our of 100 respondents in each of five cities, we found that the most upbeat Nigerians reside in Lagos. 43% of our respondents think things will get better soon. Is that a surprise? Lagos is Nigeria’s most dynamic economy. In Kano, Onitsha and the capital Abuja, every single respondent said things will remain the same. In life I have come to discover, staying in one place is actually a form of retrogression. Half the respondents in Ibadan think things will get worse. Not surprising, given how sad the government in Oyo State is.
Given these kind of results, is it a surprise that we are seeing a rise in agitations and threats left, right, and centre? North, South, East and West? Fewer people are willing to listen to the other man, because they are hungry, and angry.
Think about it this way — the economy is what provides jobs. Jobs, are what provide income. Income, is what puts food on the table. A sick economy, means jobs are either not created, or are lost. Lost jobs, mean reduced income. Reduced income, means little or no food. Little or no food, means that people will listen to any lunatic that promises them bread, will find a significant following.
In 1929, the collapse of the global economy, destroyed living for a lot of Germans. In desperation, they turned to Adolf Hitler. Since 2015, Nigeria’s economy has been falling apart. It is clear that many Nigerians are beginning to listen to others. For the record, I am not scared of the people who they are currently listening to. I am mortified of who is to come.
We need to fix our economy. Urgently!
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