Opinion

Hamine Bread Is Now 1100 Naira. The French Had A Revolution Because Of Something Similar.

Well, not exactly. The French Revolution was much more complex than that but it is quite nice and liberating to attribute complex notions to seemingly simple issues. Another personal favourite is that Yugoslavia fell because a bottle was shoved into a man’s rectum. Of course, that’s not entirely true, but when you squint a little and tilt your head, the connection becomes evident. 

We’re in dire straits. The number of people living in multidimensional poverty is ever rising and due to no fault of their own. The salaries remain the same but the exchange rate keeps increasing. For a nation that relies heavily on importation, this is simply suicide. According to the World Bank, Monetary Poverty is when a person lives below $1.90 a day. This involves everything you do, from feeding to transportation to grooming. That translates to somewhere between 80,000 to 90,000 Naira a month, or even higher, depending on the mood of the dollar when you check. Most Nigerians don’t even earn up to that. I mean, the minimum wage is still about 30,000 Naira. 

83 Million Nigerians live in abject poverty. This figure was reported in 2022. The economic picture has only worsened over time so you can imagine the number has gone up significantly since then. We’re currently in a cost-of-living crisis, very literally.

Hamine Bread is now 1100 Naira, and that’s for the smaller loaf. It’s quite shocking though not entirely unexpected. They are running a business and can’t afford to run at a loss. It is understandable given the persistently rising cost of, well, everything else, baking ingredients included. I remember an eccentric surgeon that you would come across or have come across during your special postings, who was complaining of price hikes under Buhari’s tenure. I wonder if he still buys bread. I, for one, probably won’t be buying bread for the foreseeable future. When I initially found out about the reviewed price, I simply laughed. I guess as a Nigerian, my number #1 coping strategy is to laugh about things, more so when they are more troubling than funny. We joke a lot about the things that bother us the most and say things like “It is well”, because for the most part, what else can we do? 

With Tinubu as the President, things will probably only keep going downhill. The only question is “How quickly?” For the clinical students, I’m certain we’ve all seen patients come to the hospital and DAMA due to financial constraints. The rate at which this happens seems to have gone up in recent times. The vast majority of Nigerian families are one medical condition away from being in lifetime debt or death for others. People can’t afford to have their phones stolen, not primarily due to the information stored on them but because of the inability to replace them. On the other hand, people have turned to theft as a way to survive. As a result, we’re left being hypervigilant in a country with a very high rate of insecurity. There are a lot more tweets of people soliciting funds to pay their fees. I try to contribute whenever I can while at the same time keeping my expenses in mind. 

As medical students, we have obviously not been left untouched. HPTL fees are 100,000 Naira. For most, and in a country where people are struggling to feed, how are we to afford this? I mean, before the introduction of these fees, there was a campaign #NoTo100k, and that was back when things were, with the benefit of hindsight, a lot better. My thoughts go out to everyone in this category. 

Thinking of the state of the country and the fact that the future prospects are looking bleak, it’s difficult to be optimistic about anything. Delusion is my major, if not only, source of joy these days. I’m constantly in a state of inertia, unwilling or unable to do almost anything except those that come easily to me. Going to school, a previously mindless task has become a herculean one. Without an external force, in my case, the fallacy of sunk cost and my parents’ investments, I probably would not. I can’t imagine I’m the only one affected by this.

The thought of finally being out of this place is another major motivation but then, as a house officer, you’d be unable to enjoy the benefits that your predecessors enjoyed. Buying a car is virtually impossible on your salary and if you have a lot of black tax, you’ll be lucky to afford Aina’s Pasta regularly. All this while you have to be in the hospital most of the time and answering to seniors who may or may not be pouring out their frustrations on you. Of course, exams keep getting more expensive as the exchange rate keeps inflating, making getting out of the country a race against time. 

We’re facing issues on all fronts as Nigerians at the moment, and in all of this, it’s normal to turn to the things that comfort us, our safe spaces. It’s also normal to shut down, give up, and let life happen to you instead of living. But in fact, now is the time to do the exact opposite. I’m not saying it’s easy. Trust me, I know. But rebelling against the cards life has dealt us, no matter how harsh is the only way out. We may not end up with what we want or on our preferred path, especially coming from Nigeria where it feels like you’re starting with a handicap. However, the only way out is through. 

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