By Anayo Nwosu, OON
The economic hardship that will befall on countries like Nigeria after and during COVID-19 is better imagined than experienced. It is akin to what the Igbos suffered after the war.
Unfortunately, even the Igbos whose population are now mostly post-1970 have lost the post-civil war economic survival experience and may be exposed to the same hardships other Nigerians would suffer in months to come.
The worst of is that foreign nations who normally come to our aid are also challenged because the suspension of economic activities due to coronavirus has hit them so hardly. They will first focus on their recovery than to look for who to help. Nigeria will have to enjoy all their years of maladministration and lack of focused leadership.
All can testify that both Federal and State governments could not reach out to everyone with COVID-19 palliatives despite their best efforts. They simply cannot because there is no enough money or resources to achieve that. Even those charged with distribution needed the palliatives more than the intended targets. So, it boils down to “onye ọbụla chebe onwe ya” meaning “everyone should fend for himself or herself” also know as OYO.
Only those who escaped abroad before now shall be better of as most western nations have closed their borders to tourists and immigrants. We are all trapped in here.
“Ma eze ma ochi ikpe” meaning “we all” shall now use those hospitals we refused to equip or even abandoned, the schools we failed to adequately staff and equip, the roads we refused to build or built on TV and social media.
In weeks to come, many employers of labour will shed some weights. Marriages standing on one foot are waiting for relaxation of lockdown and curfew to collapse. The federal and state governments would begin to delay or owe salaries because oil and other revenues have dipped or not received. States who depend only on federal allocation would beg to be merged with other states. Southeast will soon find out that they only need one house of assembly not five. Other states will realize the same thing and cry for restructuring will rent the air.
With high unemployment rates, crime rate will rise and the rich will park their SUVs at home and fly okada (which will have to be unbanned) to avoid being noticed as rich. The prostitutes will be offering credit sales while many junior pastors will revolt to start their own business centres.
Many former almajiri youths in the north will move enmass towards the south for economic survival. The massive movement being noticed now is going to be a child’s play when inter-state movement is lifted. Southern states must plan to build a holding accommodation for them since there is no law prohibiting the movement of any Nigerian. Don’t think it’s a northern agenda to send soldiers to islamize the south. No, it is akin to southerners’ migration to Europe where they plead for economic asylum. Don’t they engage in economic malfeasance and drug peddling there? The almajiris will of course arrive with their own vices.
Many youths will no longer go to church as they have learnt during COVID-19 that churches offer no immunity to a common virus not to talk about their existential issues. They would feel that some people have been scamming them. The orthodox churches would suffer what their western counterparts suffered that made them unban homosexuality to attract members.
It is going to be a chaos.
But how do you as a person feature in all these? The following are suggested ways you could navigate through the coming economic psunami:
1. Hold on to your cash. Cash is king. There will be a lot of opportunities for those who have cash in hand. So, save as if your life depends on it. Foreigners will sell their businesses to leave Nigeria. Many people will sell their prime land or houses at a give away prices.
2. Get ready for sack. Organisations must reduce cost to survive. If you are not the owner of the business or are not an essential staff, start thinking of an option B now. Don’t be deceived by rhetorics. All jobs are under threat. Many have already sacked their drivers and other domestic servants in the name of COVID-19 safety concerns. Many of them may never return. Same goes for side chicks and side women. Guys are now learning how to only plug to the same sockets.
3. Start thinking of going into agriculture but you must study the risk properly. If you’re a white or blue collar job person please start from sales or distribution of farm produce.That’s where the money is made. Farming is more of a passion except for commercial farming which is capital intensive.
4. Forget getting into selling of goods purchased abroad which prices are denominated in foreign currency.
5. As a new timer, avoid fashion, beauty products business, gold and other giffen goods now as the mass market are in existential goods.
6. Cut all unuseful friends; all those “bros take or give me one bottle attitude”. Not now. Learn how to drink alone at home for now. You need some tincture of alcohol to think straight at this time. If you cannot drink please pray and shout a lot, it has the same effect.
7. Read a lot to acquire new knowledge. Read motivational and professional books online if you cannot buy.
8. Stop pursuing or the craze to invest in government contracts. It is more dangerous now as you may not be paid. Get involved only if the advanced payment would cover your cost and profit. Governments have so much to do with reduced revenue.
9. Move your children to schools you can afford even while you are out of job or when your business slows down.
10. Get married to someone who can help carry your load as Simeon de Cyrene.
11. Wed now using COVID-19 protocol of ban on number of people assembling in one place as an excuse to save a whole lot.
12. Pray a lot for God’s direction and grace.
The bad times would only get worse for anyone who doesn’t get prepared now. Do know what? In the weeks and months to come, there would be a new group of former rich men and women. They are those who resisted change. They failed to read the signs of times. Some businesses will crumple as typewriters and touch lights did following the emergence of computers and phones. Everyone should wear a thinking cap to face this new normal. It is scary. A war foretold doesn’t consume the cripple.