Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Are We Really Better Off?

I was in a cab the other day when the cab driver threw an empty sachet of pure water out the window. Me being a Keep-Nigeria-Clean activist couldn't resist chiding him for littering the road.

Me: Oga why you dey dirty our road na? Abi you no like as e clean so?
Cab Man: My sister, it is for the good of us all

According to him, if the streets remained cleaned, the people who are employed to sweep and keep the streets tidy would be out of jobs. He claimed that he wasn't one to litter the streets but did it every now and then just to  save the jobs of his fellow Nigerians. Twisted logic but I somehow agreed with him.....if littering the streets every now and then  will reduce the unemployment rate and keep more people away from criminal activities, then by all means, litter the streets!

But now sha, thinking about really doesn't make all the sense in the world...I mean, we can have other alternatives of keeping our environment tidy which can also provide employment for the masses. E.g Having waste bins located on every corner. If the waste bins will be produced in Nigeria, people would be employed to work in the factories producing them, our Rubber industry would expand from increasing need for plastic...etc etc. And that's just the most basic out of a gazillion.

But 9ja sha, we like to import things. When I heard that the elections had been postponed due to late arrival of election materials into the country, what got to me first wasn't even the postponement; it was the fact that we had to import from SOUTH AFRICA. I mean, really!

Some claim that INEC wanted to be truly independent and didnt want leakages bla bla....but now, these imported materials are gonna be in Nigeria for ONE WEEK before they are used. So what was the point of "isolation" in the first instance?? *Smh*

Back in 2003, when MTN and co first came to Nigeria; there was a sudden outburst of self employed people - setting up call centres aka bizness centres. The basic requirements were 1 chair, 1 table, 1 umbrella and a phone. It used to be a booming business because of the cut-throat prices telcoms companies offered. I remember when a 1 minute call cost N50!! There was nothing like per second. If you so much as "flashed" somborri and the person picked for even one second, MTN will mercilessly take your 50 box. Wicked people.

And so for those of us who couldnt afford to buy the Booster Card (N4,000), we had to be regular customers of the bizness centre people who charged about 30 naira or so. But these days mehn, things have changed, supposedly for the better. But is it really better?

Gone are the days where we would regularly go to a Cybercafe to "buy time". Everybody now has a laptop (thanks to China, lol). Life is easier. The standard of living is supposedly better. But is it really better?

Yeah, we have much much cheaper call rates than we did in 2003. The cost of purchasing a SIM card is almost next to nothing. We have blackberries and phones we can access the internet with. Even I cant keep up with new technology that spring up every day. Just when I'm thinking of saving for the next 10yrs to get an iPhone4, I hear say iPhone 5 is on the way out, lol.

But do we every stop to consider what has happened to those people whose main source of livelihood was the profit they got from making calls. What happened to those people who were able to send their children to school from money they got from their cyber cafe businesses? What other alternatives did they turn to?

Another business? Crime? Politics? Where are they? Did things get so bad they had to relocate back to their villages?

About two years ago, okada was banned from Port Harcourt. With little or no prior notice given to the okada riders, the Rivers State govt woke up one day and said "Hey, you know what? No more Okada!"

They claimed it aided and abetted most of the criminal activities being carried out in the town. People like my father lauded the move because according to him, too many people were dying daily from okada accidents. I wasn't happy about it. No, I wasnt an okada rider. Neither did I have a boyfriend who was an okada rider, lol.

But there is something called empathy. Yes, Okada had its disadvantages. But why couldn't the Govt have provided better alternatives. Why not give these Okada riders 1 - 2 years notice. Compel them to open a savings account where they'd have had to deposit a certain amount of money weekly, monthly or quarterly. And then at the end of two years, sum up all savings and use it as a deposit for the down payment of a car which will be used as a cab. Whatever the difference is, they can make it up overtime.

That way, everybody is happy. The Okada man is happy for having a more gainful employment. The average citizen is happy for the reduced risk of falling off a bike and breakings heads and bones. The average citizen is happy for a better means of transportation.

Anyway sha, today is just one of my I-tire-for-9ja dyas. I shall stop ranting already.

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