It’s been a full 5 days of strike action nationwide in Nigeria since it kicked off on Monday, 9th January. Let’s just let that fact sink in for a minute. 5 days??? Could you imagine being under involuntary house arrest for 5 days? I have. I slept till Sleep demanded a definite curfew. I ate till my swelling gut begged me to do sit-ups. I cleaned my apartment till the remaining dust particles put up a white flag to save its unborn generation. I watched so much TV that I got spasms whenever I suddenly tried to turn my neck left or right. Boredom kept knocking on my door but I stupidly shouted, ‘No one is home’. 5 days…and it seems this weekend is merely a recess.
Saturday was a breath of fresh air as the roads were busied with vehicles once destined for a life of dust accumulation and stalled engines. I joined the hustle and bustle without delay as this was my chance to replenish my stock of food items, refuel my car and re-assess my alien surroundings. I noticed a lot of the police/traffic warden stands which had been toppled probably by protesters last week. Most filling stations remained closed while the few that were open sold fuel at whatever price we desperate motorists and generator owners were willing to pay. I recall some weeks ago when I poked fun at a friend who was in a queue for the critically acclaimed Shoprite bread. That recollection occurred yesterday while I was in a never-before-seen queue at my local bakery – I was number 11. Even when I went to my Cable TV provider, DSTV, to pay my outstanding bill the queue there was reminiscent of the maze you see at Alton Towers. It was cash or nothing – some ‘cashless’ society we’re turning out to be (insert sarcastic emoticon here).
I wonder what other people got up to during this unwarranted holiday (NB – Nigerian bankers are not complaining). Apart from those who got so bored of staying indoors and later opted to join the rallies at designated points nationwide, there must have been those who went to a nearby church to meditate and pray for Nigeria (only a small fraction); those who over-stayed their welcome at their neighbour’s place after emptying their own fridges (a mega chunk); and those who took full advantage of the steady electricity in some areas and used all their LG products to maximum capacity (I’m one of the lucky few!). With the evident harmattan weather gaining momentum over the last few days, I don’t even want to know what couples have been up to.
To my surprise I learnt this morning that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Government (FG) are still nowhere closer to reaching an agreement on reinstating the fuel subsidy which would bring the fuel pump price back to N65/litre. I’m not sure that the president quite understands the gravity of this economic shutdown. Lives have been lost, businesses have been crippled, and anarchy is looming. On a gloomier note, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, estimated that the country had lost about N500bn (over $3bn) last week due to the strike. The Save Nigeria Group and Occupy Nigeria group have made their stance clear – No to Corruption and Yes to Good Governance. That’s my stance too – I care less about the removal of the fuel subsidy.
We can expect that if the deadlock between NLC and the FG remains then Day 6 of the mother of all strikes will resume tomorrow. We can also expect more protests, more political aspirants hoping to capitalize on this mass movement, more boredom (or freedom), more neighbour-to-neighbour visits, more battery-sapping blackberry broadcasts, more Insomnia, more new cases of obesity, and last but certainly not least, we can expect an overwhelming baby boom in September