President Muhammadu Buhari has been labelled a kill-joy as scores of millions of Nigerians face a harrowing festive period with hardship strewn on their doorsteps, streets and highways. From scarce petroleum products to untamed recession, the 75-year-old leader of the world’s most populous and promising nation stands accused of removing ‘Merry’ from Christmas.
The agelong greeting which means ‘full of cheerfulness or gaiety’, ‘festively joyous’ and ‘delightful’ as Christmas approaches is no longer applicable here.
There are no signs that Christmas on Monday, December 25, barely three days away, will be full of joy.
Instead, pains are lined up for struggling Nigerians whose standard of living has nosedived in 30 months of this administration.
And across the country, from cities to towns, long and angry faces are commonplace. Joy is fast disappearing and as scarce as petrol.
Here are some reasons people are not smiling and merry as Christmas beckons:
- Petrol queues with the product hardly available
Nigerians are spending productive hours at petrol stations with little success. The product is generally unavailable, and where it’s being dispensed there are long queues of more than 6 hours.
There’s commotion and anger wherever the product is being dispensed and cheating by attendants.
- Increased fares and slow down of business activities
The few public vehicles on road charge higher fares as commuters wait endlessly for unavailable buses, keke and okada.
People have started trekking long distances.
For businesses which depend on petrol for generators, production has been suspended.
- Recession still biting hard
There’s generally little money in circulation, and production has dwindled. And hardship multiplied as we all prioritise and economize.
All the purchases that herald the festive period have been scaled down.
- Electricity supply is very bad
With electricity supply very bad, life is brutish and short with hope hanging a string.
Manufacturers are groaning, artisans are crying, entrepreneurs are moaning, and households are whining.
Joy is scarce everywhere.
- Traffic jams in major cities
Fuel queues and the frenzy of the festive period have escalated traffic jams with pains planted in bosoms. Long hours are wasted for nothing in commuting.
- Salaries unpaid in many states as companies downsize and close shop
Many states are still owing salaries and pensions with millions of households on the edge of squalor and despondency. Businesses are cutting costs, laying off staffers and closing down.
– Agbolade Owolabi