One thing that appears to be constant in life is ‘Change.’ Everybody seems to desire change for just one reason or another. The level of economic or social attainment, educational, political, and religious or health does not frighten anyone out of the desire for change. Thus the slogan ‘change’ became a willing and successful tool in the hands of the former opposition party APC during the 2015 general election in Africa’s most populous black nation. The desire for change is infectious and sometimes contiguous. As soon as the status of a man changes for the better, everybody around him begins to ‘react’ in whatever form, whether internally, visibly, bodily, emotionally or sometimes irrationally. The extent or nature of reaction in an individual is interdependent, but the result is always certain: change has happened.
In Nigeria, the wind of “change” is currently blowing all around. When I was in elementary school in the early 60s, I enjoyed reading about North East Trade winds that ushered in the dust-laden Harmattan weather; Though I did not understand fully why it was labeled ‘Trade.’ The terminology got me excited any time it was mentioned. What was more thrilling was the change associated with it. The atmosphere became rarified, whistling sound of the air, my upper and lower lips dried up and slit open at several points, bleeding and painful. Attempts to reduce the pains by wetting with saliva worsened the situation by inflicting more openings and deepening the pains. Is this not change? I desired it, but it brought pains and discomfort. Opening my mouth to talk or even to eat was a problem. I became scared of going out of the house lest people who saw me would mock me by saying ‘you are the one blowing this Harmattan.’ I would then swear and wish I never yearned for it. Such is the nature of change. It can sometimes cause pains- self-recommended, self-desired and self-inflicted.
We are in a season of change in Nigeria. A big debate is currently going on everywhere between those who brought change, those who welcomed it wholeheartedly and the forced recipients. The discussion is complicated, but there is. Who is winning? Of course, time will tell. What seems to be a common viewpoint is that there is indeed change. After all, a bag of rice that used to cost between N7000 and N9000 in early 2015 is now between N22000 and N26000, one dollar that was between N160 and N190 in early 2015 is now between N460 and N470. One tuber of yam that was between N250 and N 400 is now between N800 and N1500, and a basin of ‘garri’ which used to be poor man’s food has risen from N1500 to N9000. It appears many establishments have reduced or are contemplating reducing their workforce, while I read in some newspapers recently that the government is already setting up machinery to introduce pay cuts for their workers. In most homes, three square meal is no longer feasible; although I do not quite understand what constitutes a “square” meal. Is the square in the realm of geometrical dimension which we know or something symbolic? After all, any meal put in a geometrically square container will automatically become square no matter the size of the container. What then makes it a square and why must it be three? If there are no good and acceptable answers to these, someone might wait to blame “change” for the “unsquareness” of the meals and the three-less-ness of the number.
Meanwhile, it is doubtful if there is no secret war going on among the political ruling class as to whom and who mooted the idea of change as an electioneering campaign slogan. I am very sure no one will agree to be at the meeting where the idea was first discussed let alone being the one who brought the suggestion. Not to worry anyway, the situation will soon come under control. Nature has a way of healing wounds. I have not seen any terrible situation that lasted forever. Just to think of it, the Napoleonic war came to an end, Adolf Hitler’s wars ended also; what about the Nigerian civil war or the Vietnam wars- just to mention a few? Even just recently the Boko Haram insurgency was “defeated” in Nigeria while the Niger Delta militancy has been suppressed and pushed to its knees. Why then should anyone think that change will not come to an end? Whatever therefore changes means, changing times will resolve it in our collective favor. So shall it be?
by Steven Oziegbe