By: Salami Ajibola
Saying that our chronic and bloodsucking inflation has reached a new temperature is to tell my sweet mother that water is what is used for boiling rice–superfluous! Saying that the value of money today has turned outright beggarly is to evaluate the worth of human life to the government given Evans–paradox! Saying, yet again, that our purchasing power is now the power needed to pick an item to buy without swearing under the pressure of price is, all in all, echoing the agony of millions of mouths–horrendous!
And being who we are, Nigerians(gifted in the art of adaptation), we have taken it all in good strides and are now moving on. But superfluous, paradox, horrendous, you name it, can’t be inappropriate in describing an economic situation where we now buy air!
Yes, we now buy air. I did just that last week when I went to a shop and bought a Dabur Herbal toothpaste (30g+10g). Having gnashed my teeth at the price increase, I walked off thinking that was all to it, at least till probably a month later when I’d have to buy again. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Thank God for a small shot of reasoning, I would have jumped out of the bathroom and ran breathlessly to the vendor to show himthat what he sold to me was just one-third of its container!
For goodness sake, how does one even describe the empty bloat? How does the mind fathom the sense behind the purchase of air? I came out of the bathroom and my washed mouth felt even dirtier with anger. Who really was I to challenge? Though the vendor for one didn’t produce the toothpaste and probably wouldn’t have used part of it, making my grievance known to him wouldn’t have hurt at least. Perhaps he would have changed it or given me a better reason for the air. But being who I am again, Nigerian, I took it all in–isn’t it just toothpaste?–and moved on.
Then it was the turn of my neighbour just two days later. I was inside eating when her voice rang out loud about virtually empty tomato sachets–two precisely, out of the roll of five she’d bought. “See, see, na just air them blow full am,” she was saying to her sister. If it wasn’t that I had been a victim myself, I wouldn’t have stretched my ears to the extent I did just to know what next she’d do. But, yet again, being who they are, Nigerians, the sister responded with “Wetin we no go see for this country…” and my neighbour heaved heavily in concurrence–and, no doubt, submission.
That was when it dawned on me that I was not alone. We were not alone. How many more were out there buying air? How many more people, I asked,still buy air, after having had to pay though thier noses? Air! How many of those who often have the very air they breathe almost sucked out of them just to pay for foodstill eat air?
Then they started dropping in: SON (Standards Organisation of Nigeria), CPC (Consumers Protection Council) and co. What have they to do with this sales of wind? Where have they kept their objectives such as “… improvement of measurement accuracy…” and “…enforcement of appropriate standards for goods…” Since these products are expected to pass right under their nose to be standardised, are they even the ones filling them with the air? All these I pondered and wondered and almost had to buy another air in Alabukun.