Can you take a look at that woman standing in front of a
stall in the market confused, because the N500 she was using before to prepare a pot of soup for her family seems not enough again?
Again, take another look at a young undergraduate scratching his head in his hostel just because his N10,000 monthly feeding allowance which always gave him the courage to swagger around in the past can now barely last for two to three weeks.
What about a civil servant who enters a market during month end to restock her kitchen only for her to go home with little or nothing to show for her salary? And, of course, what about a parent who is compelled to change the school of his children because there is not enough money to sustain their fees?
It all sounds like a fiction, but that is the reality Nigeria is facing today. The “Nigeria Jaga – Jaga” prophecy which a musical artist, Eedris Abdulkareem made about 12 years ago is coming home to roost.
The word “Jaga Jaga” is a Yoruba word used to express a scene of great disorder or ruin, a scene of things falling apart with no one ready to assist.
The word is not new to that Yoruba lexicon, but it was popularized by Abdukareem in 2004 when he launched his hit track called “Nigeria Jaga-Jaga”.
It was unanimous opinion that the album was a satire by Abdulkareem to decry the state of disorderliness in Nigeria under the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, most especially against the rumbles that trailed the sudden increase in price of petrol from N50 to N65 then.
Although the song was banned by President Obasanjo, who considered it irrational for any right – thinking Nigerian to sing about his country in the most ridiculous and despicable manner, the masses who bore the brunt of the economic pains were at peace with the song.
Today, however, the “Jaga – Jaga” prophecy by Eedris Abdukareem can no longer be ignored as things are falling apart making it impossible for the centre to be at ease. Nigerians are no longer finding it funny as a dollar today is equivalent to about N450 Naira, while a bag of rice has increased to about N20,000 to N23,000, and petrol now selling at N145 per litre.
Eedris in the first solo of the song paints a scenario where armed robbers visit a house without harming anybody or collecting money. This is a common scene today in Nigeria as many citizens are, out of frustration, engaging in untoward acts just to eke out a living.
For instance, the house of a Professor at Federal University, Otuoke, was burgled sometime ago. The burglars left with nothing but his half bag of rice and garri. The story was also told about a teacher in Ekiti who after months of unpaid salaries was left with no option than to steal a plate of prepared garri (eba) that belonged to her neighbour.
The “suffer- suffer” crunch is, however, not limited to the poor. In this period of economic recession in the country, the rich also cry. Many oil workers who were once “big boys” of the society have been relieved of their positions. The airlines are leaving the country in droves.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the 56th Independence Day celebration was coloured with the “Jaga – Jaga” music which was banned in 2004; proving the saying that a prophet is remembered when his prophecy is made manifest.
Furthermore, the word “Jaga – Jaga” is frequently used by Nigerians when describing the effects of corruption on all sectors of the nation’s economy with the searchlight always beamed on the politicians alone. Nigerians always feign ignorance of the fact that an average citizen is also corrupt; hence, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign slogan “Change begins with me”.
I am not trying to exonerate politicians from corrupt acts; in fact, they are the worst culprits. But the ordinary citizens themselves aid and abet corruption. And until we all join hands to fight the monster, the “Jaga – Jaga” prophecy will continue to manifest in our national life.
You might imagine how possible it is for a common citizen to contribute to the restoration of Nigeria, permit me to say, we must not all be politicians to make things work well.
The great depression suffered by America in 1929 opened doors for creativity and as such pushed the nation into becoming a world power today. Likewise, Nigerians can effectively manage this period of recession by birthing or bringing new ideas as it is always said that people tend to be more creative during such periods.
Although the “Jaga – Jaga” prophecy is currently manifesting, nothing is stopping us or can stop us from turning the prophecy to good news for us.
It is suggestive at this point to look at the lyrics of our second National Anthem that says;
“Oh God of creation,
Direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And live in just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign”
It is, therefore, important that all hands must be on deck in order to save our dear nation from the claws of recession. We have the option to either put our country back on the path of glory or watch things get out of hands and suffer the effects. I think the former is more glorious and more beneficial to us both as individuals and as a nation.
Akpan is a student of the Federal University, Utuoke, Bayelsa State.