Transcripts of the minutes leading up to George Floyd’s death revealed he told officers “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times, only to have his plea dismissed by Derek Chauvin, the white officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, who said: “It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
Sadly, the ugly incident that led to George’s death in the US is the reality of many Nigerians today. With the prices of food items skyrocketing like cedars of Lebanon, average Nigerians who are pegged to the ground with the harsh economic conditions are mumbling “we can’t breathe,” and the President of the nation, who is bent on speaking to Nigerians in the language they understand, is by his actions, saying “It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
With the rise in inflation and even devaluation of the Naira, one would wonder if the change promised by the current administration was to suffocate average Nigerians to death.
For the records, Guardian Newspaper reported that “Nigeria’s inflation rate since 2013 to date had grown from 8.48 per cent to 17.93 per cent in May 2021. In 2013, the inflation rate stood at 8.48 per cent while it dropped to 8.06 per cent 2014. In 2015, when this administration took over, it shot up to 9.01 per cent with a yearly change of 0.95 per cent and had continued to rise drastically. Giving a breakdown, in 2016, inflation rate rose sporadically to 15.68 per cent with about a 6.67 per cent increase from 2015. In 2017, it stood at 16.52 per cent with about a 0.85 per cent increase from 2016, while in 2018, the inflation rate significantly dropped to 12.09 per cent with about -4.43 per cent from 2017.
“In 2019, it stood at 11.40 per cent with a yearly change of -0.70 per cent when compared to 2018, while in 2020 and 2021 as at May, the inflation rate stood at 13.2 per cent and 17.93 per cent respectively”.
For the understanding of the layman, a comparison of the prices of some foodstuffs between 2015 and 2021 showed that a bag of rice (foreign) was N10,500, but now N30,000, while a bag of local rice that was N6,000, now sells for N22,000.
More worrying is that a basin of garri in 2015 was N3,000, but now N11,000; cup of beans in 2015 was N30 now N120; an average tuber of yam in 2015 was N200 now N1,000; sizeable frozen fish in 2015 was N100, now N800.
The above is but a fragment of how the prices of foodstuffs in this present administration have drastically increased across board. Despite this sporadic increment, without increment in incomes, the Buhari-led administration has turned deaf ears to the plights of Nigerians.
It’s even more disturbing that Buhari has made it a norm to clamp down on those who cry for mercy, air their grievances, and Femi Adesina would rather call such people wailers. The President has not only withdrawn Nigerians’ freedom of expression but is also making deliberate and conscious moves to gag the media – so as not to be able to report his anomalies.
I am under necessity to ask, has Buhari greased the palms of leaders of the unions that ought to fight for the common man – Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress – for them to have become lame ducks? Otherwise, I cannot understand how a nation’s citizens can be suffocated to this level and the relevant associations are unconcerned – rather, they are romancing the federal government.
Without mincing words, the increase in crime rate across the nation is a reflection of the harsh economic conditions – people are brooding on schemes, no matter how egregious or illegal it is to make money and sadly, Nigeria is now a jungle of Charles Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest”. But rather than identify the challenges and tackle them, the President is “selectively” dealing with some persons in the language they understand.
Buhari is not bigger than Nigeria; he is not above the rule of law. I cannot understand how a nation of over 200 million people can be held hostage by a few persons who were elected, or better still rigged their way to power. I strongly believe that if Nigerians can come together in one voice and strength, they can bring this failed government to book.
Perhaps the president has not been hearing the cries of Nigerians; let me re-echo, without mincing words, “Buhari, we can’t breathe”.