Surviving in these hard times

economyA popular Musician, Billy Ocean, once sang that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. These are, indeed, hard times in Nigeria and only the tough can survive. What that implies is that everyone has to step up his or her activities, so as not to be overwhelmed by the daily challenges being encountered, as a result of the tough economic recession we find ourselves. It is very sad that we have found ourselves in this situation. The handwriting had been on the wall for us to see, but we chose to disregard it. And now we are paying the price.

That the hard times are here is an understatement. Many homes are finding it hard to cope. Salaries of civil servants, especially those on the payroll of states and local governments, are not forthcoming. States that manage to do something, are paying half salaries, while some state governor, such as Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, have mandated workers to work for only three days a week and spend the remainder two for agricultural purposes. What that means is that workers’ salaries would be drastically affected, and may not even be paid, as at when due, as a result of the worsening economic situation. Millions of pensioners are yet to be paid and very little seems to be going on well in the health and manufacturing sectors, amongst others.

Only recently, the Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, revealed in an interview that the economic meltdown is seriously affecting the church. According to him, many people that come to parish offices to see priests do so with the intention of seeking for one form of assistance or the other. In other words, many homes are currently finding it difficult to make ends meet, what with the high cost of basic necessities like food stuffs that has risen close to 100 per cent in recent times. If the Church, which many see as the last hope of the common man, is also at the receiving end of the harsh economy, where do we expect the poor to find economic solace?

The solution does not lie in travelling out to foreign lands. Many other oil-producing countries are equally facing hard times. There is no quick fix anywhere. While effort, we believe, is being made by the government, in tandem with economists and relevant stakeholders to find a way out of this economic meltdown before it does further damage on our collective well-being, it is also imperative for all to come to terms with this reality and adjust their pattern of living. In the first instance, this period is a wake-up call for all to scale down on their standard of living. Those in the habit of gulping down beer every day must begin to have a re-think and think first of how to provide food on the tables. With many companies closing shops by the day, it is obvious that office jobs are no longer viable. People must begin to embrace skill acquisition programmes. Churches and organisations must intensify effort to assist their members to become self-reliant. Those with lands must go back to agriculture to grow more food for mass market. All hands must be on deck.

• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

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