By John Igoli
While Nigerians are praying for a better country, they simultaneously and unwittingly prey on themselves. It is this preying attitude and activities that seem to make our prayers unanswered. A Nigerian campaign for his candidate expecting that his victory will usher in free economic and political benefits deriving from the government. For the Nigerian, it will be a period of unmerited favour, much reward for less work and easy access to government generosity and largesse.
Every category of worker preys on their patrons, teachers on their students or pupils, road safety personnel on road users, police on the people or their friends or criminals, religious leaders on their adherents, the market woman on her customers, the farmers or producers on the middlemen, the middlemen on the retailers, networks on subscribers, banks on their customers, politicians on the electorates and their constituencies.
Nigerians exploit every opportunity or post of responsibility for personal or economic gains. The poor salary situation necessitates a top up of income to survive. As the common cliché goes, our take home salaries can no longer take us home. Either we are stuck with no jobs or unable to go to work or those at work are unable to do the job to merit their earnings. Hence, both the employed and unemployed are praying and while they wait for answers they prey. We have developed long talons and wide or sharp beaks as found in birds of prey and using the instrument of corruption, we feed on our hapless and unprotected/desperate victims. We are all predators.
Preying comes in different manners or guise. First is the social predating which could come as a simple invitation to a birthday, wedding or thanksgiving party. Next thing you are added to a group and funds have to be raised. An account number is supplied, a “generous” donor initiates donations and then the listing and updating begins. You are prayed (preyed) upon to make a donation and until you make a donation not lower than the minimum donated by others, you will find no peace or rest. You may also be required to sew or buy a uniform for the party and the sole distributor and price fixer is the celebrant.
Following closely is the social media predation. In Nigeria, the social media has become the thief of time and no longer procrastination. You are inundated with posts, shares and emojis, thoughts, bad grammar, terrible and alarming captions and feel-good photos. You are forced to follow them or blend with their feelings and thinking. You receive 10 or more daily devotionals daily. You are tagged or copied in photos, posts and other materials that are completely useless. They ensure you have no time to do any meaningful work but to read and share posts. There are generals and field Marshalls of the social media, they do per second posting and read every post including those that you deleted.
The next category are the work or office predators. Here, the chicken walked into the foxes’ den. This happens in both the private and public sectors. At filling stations, how dare you ask for change after buying petrol? You must buy an injector cleaner, fuel saver or one product or the other and still be generous to them. At the motor parks, the predation is warped.
There is no escaping the antics of the Agbero or motor park tout. Fake passengers occupy the vehicle creating the impression that the vehicle will soon depart. You may for luggage and must give space and time for waybills. Public offices or duties operate and their operations are smoother with bribes and settlements. Bribery and corruption are the grease of government machineries and functions. Predation is the key to getting their job done.
Religious predation is also very common place. Generous offerings and gifts are announced followed by the accompanied blessings so you are forced to think of what to give. The key here is the more you give the more you receive. Blessings are proportional to your generosity and support for the religion. You are emotionally and spiritually preyed upon to act and in expected manners. All religions in Nigeria relate only with giving of gifts and parting with monies. Records are kept and you are not a true adherent when your records of giving are poor or below expectations. You lose your rights and privileges as a member or follower.
Political predation has thrown up all the bad leaders and leadership we enjoy in Nigeria. Here the predators start with history, how the position or political office has not been occupied by your people since inception or for over 50 years, always longer than the average age of the voters. You are told how the last occupant or holder denied you all the good things provided by government and expected dividends of democracy. You are suddenly recruited into an army to ensure your person wins at all costs.
Then the excuses begin, the squander mania, abuse of power and perquisites of office and finally, tenure elongation or re-election. He then raises another army to ensure the will of the people is thwarted. Nothing has changed, things have become worse and once again, we are victims of political predators.
Market predation is what we suffer and enjoy daily. You cannot escape it no matter how far away you run. Prices of goods and services are not determined in Nigeria, they are preyed upon. You can be given an initial quote of N5000.00 for a good or service that can be sold or rendered at N1000.00. Your power of negotiation with the hawks whose talons have sank deep into your bark and the beaks are salivating with their expected dinner is what you need here to survive. To shop in Nigeria, you need extra deftness to buy and go home unscathed. The traders will prey on your ignorance, desperation and helplessness. Not even any of them watching you being preyed upon will offer you succor as they are all auto shimmed to cheat.
Under these circumstances, we are not sure who to run to or seek help as Nigerians are their own predators and our only hope of escape is to leave for foreign countries or japa as it is described now. Our government is not helping matters as they create avenues for predation. Government businesses are not fully computerized and where they are, they are subject to manipulation and human activity. Records can be forged or deleted or changed at will and there will be no trace of such activities. Our government will promise or threaten salary increments and for the next six or more months will still be discussing the matter, meanwhile, prices have gone up and inflation, the final predator has landed.
Similarly, the lack of regulation and control in the oil and gas sector coupled with the floating or free exchange rates has caused another level of predation by the marketers and businesses in the sector. Black market rates increase hourly and petrol prices are now volatile. Our fiscal policies have grown physical bodies and are torturing and strangulating the people. Still government personalities still prey on our sensibilities behaving as though nothing has changed.
We observe them wasting our resources, sharing monies for no good reason. While civil servants do monthly vigils for their salaries, the political office holders do not need or see the need for salaries. To them, paying salaries is waste of funds that could be better used for development and preyed upon using contracts and consultancies.
We are indeed endangered species in Nigeria and as we pray for a better Nigeria, for positive changes and proper development, let us recognize when we have metamorphosed to predators as the switch or transition from praying to preying is just a mental and greed driven switch.
Igoli is from the Department of Chemistry, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org