For many Nigerians, 2012 did not have a good beginning. This is because the cost of living from Jan 1, 2012, skyrocketed to a frightening height, over a 100 percent. This was a bitter pill Nigerians were made to swallow by our government in the name of fuel subsidy removal. The government said it needed to remove the subsidy to open up the market and cut cost. So forced “minimalism” became the survival strategy from day 1 in 2012 and thereafter. Nigerians home and abroad hit the streets in protest. Nigerians from all works of life, ages and in different parts of the world set out to occupynigeria .
Minimalism is a green concept of living with only the exact things you truly need and reducing ones thirst to consume more. In this contest, “forced minimalism” is hoarding and managing what you have to make it last longer and holding strongly unto all other things you have because you know not what this subsidy removal has in store.
Minimalism this period became not optional but by instinct. The new cost of living, heightened by the nationwide strike activated forced minimalism in every Nigerian except ofcos government officials and their families whose fat pay and mega lifestyle rejects cost cutting by default.
Nigerians began to save, hoard and protect whatever they had. From food to clothing, airtime, drinks, Alomo Bitters (Latest drink in Lagos and its environ) and most especially petrol. According to your social and financial class, use of resources got reduced a great deal. People turned off their air-con, reduced their use of generators and embraced a more eco-friendly means of transportation-walking and cycling on the empty streets. Nigeria is hugely dependent on use of petrol because electricity doesn’t work and no other means of transportation works as much as road transportation and air for the few who can afford it. So every thing was affected. Even the sky experienced a bit of FRESH AIR. Air transport was shut down . You either coughed out enough cash and time to travel by road, start a new life where ever you got stuck, wait till the government reduces the cost of petrol and the strike is called off or wait till one of Mr Presidents Subsidy SAVIOUR Buses comes to take you away like the Chariot of fire.
I strolled out to buy some akara(bean cakes) and had a great laugh as I listened to a young boy narrate his forced minimalism ordeal to his friend. He had in his hand a sachet of pure water. He said “ My guy, see as I hold pure water for hand because I never finish am. If na before, as I drink am reach the amount wen I want, I no care whether na small or big remain, I go throw way am. But this one, I no care if e de spoil my swag o. I go hol am for hand till I finish am, I no care if na from mainland reach island o. Na N20 I buy am. No be N5 o!!! 20Nairaaa!!!! My brother, my eyes don red. Na manage I dey”. It was so hilarious but also shocking to hear that the price of pure water had gone that high.
Like majority of Nigerians, I am for subsidy removal because of the long term benefits. Opening up a sector for more investors, breaks monopoly and brings about competition/reduction in price of the commodity. The reason people rose up against this change and hit the street was majorly because of the timing. Jan 1. When folks were still back in their villages , have spent so much money during the festivities and getting set to go home possibly having just their transportation fares. Worst still, Nigeria lacks good infrastructure to help cushion the effects. Therefore, it was a story of pain and anguish for so many.
The question of cutting cost was unacceptable for Nigerians. In a nation with extravagant government spending and a history of widespread theft of billions by military rulers and present politicians. Why wouldn’t judgement start in the house of power? Why wouldn’t the government cut down on their wastage to help the economy instead of worsening the living of over 160million people.
I did not enjoy the striking period one bit(except the holiday and family bonding time), but I am sure mother nature did while it lasted. She must have been glad that we learnt to use our resources wisely and in a sustainable manner.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Long live mother earth and a moment of silence for all who lost their lives in the struggle for a better Nigeria. Have a great 2012 and overcome every challenge one day at a time.
More photos below.