Stella Dimoko Weekend Arena - Nigerians And The Story Of ' Onyirionwu'


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Friday, May 21, 2021

Weekend Arena - Nigerians And The Story Of ' Onyirionwu'

Resilience has become a crucial part of life in Nigeria; so much that adaptability  practically reminds one of the Igbo term, ‘Onyirionwu’, comically employed by hawkers to get attention for their wares in long buses and trains. 

The hawkers would tell the story of Onyirionwu, who is an ‘old baby’ full of mischief; he has refused to grow, refused to talk or walk, refused to do anything meaningful, apart from eating and inflicting pains on other children in the neighbourhood. His demeanours are so frustrating for his parents that they sometimes would wish he was dead to save them the frustrations, but Baby Onyirionwu ‘would refuse’ to die. His ‘chi’ is always awake.

This analogy has become pertinent in the face of the unfolding frustrating scenarios in Nigeria, because the political leaders seem to have clearly marked the citizens as Onyirionwu , those who have refused to capitulate in the face of threatening hardship. They have continued to brandish toothy smiles on empty stomachs. The citizens are willingly presenting their backs to be pushed against the wall with the firm belief that it would not kill them.

It is worrisome that in the face of the harsh economy, the leaders have remained undaunted about inflicting further hardship on the citizens. From north to south to east, it is the same story of policies that are making the average Nigerian poorer. While aiming to bring about the kind of development that built western economies, the leaders must be mindful of the fact that most of the amenities available to ‘oyibos’ are non-existent here.

 If the ‘kepu-kepu’ in the rumour mills are anything to go by, the price of petrol may hit N400 per litre very soon and those who met to take this decision have been arguing that New Yorkers pay twice as high, that people in Togo pay much more. But they have forgotten that New Yorkers can afford not to buy petrol and still live very comfortable lives unlike the average Nigerians, who do not have trains to commute between points nor electricity to power their homes. While the FG claims the money being expended on petrol subsidy is unsustainable, it is appalling that the government has not done much to reduce Nigerians’ dependence on petrol, which will drastically reduce consumption and drive down the subsidy figures. 

One does not need to be a Harvard-trained economist to know that our petrol consumption would come to half if Nigerians are sure of 12 hours of power supply strategically made available at productive hours daily. But the Discos are more interested in getting money for what was not supplied while the FG seems unconcerned about the trend. Perhaps, they feel the people will always adapt.

And they are right because the average Nigerian is so much consumed with the battle to survive than with what is responsible for his struggles. Tell them bus fares have gone up by 300%, they would struggle to get the money and struggle to pay the difference without sparing a reasoning about what is responsible. I heard this kind of tolerance is lacking in most African countries, where riots could break out over slight increases in the price of ordinary bread. But Nigerians will swallow the pill (or is it pride?) to present a façade of wellbeing.

The ban of okada operators in Lagos is another of such bitter pill. Over the years, Nigerians have grown to embrace okada as a means of transportation. Yes, it is absurd…very so, but that is the reality here. Some people are quick to compare Lagos to New York, but they are not the same. Abuja, Port Harcourt Kano and Onitsha are anything but not New York or Brussels, so let us not go there to force people to comply with New York standards with Onitsha realities. 

The ban will ultimately end hundreds of thousands of jobs that are connected to the okada business which has been providing the livelihoods of people like motorcycle spare parts dealers (this will gladden Malami’s heart indeed), mechanics, food vendors who sell to okada riders and possibly, touts who collect their daily levies. All of these people would soon be thrown into the labour market with no option of survival in the face of rising insecurity in the country. A humane approach would have been to restrict them to certain routes, where they can at least eke a living while the government continues to pursue the dream of being like Shanghai and Toronto.

But Nigerians are a resistant species. They will survive whatever comes their way. They have developed thick skin to economic strangulation. Every Nigerian deserves a certificate, Certificate of Survival


  1. Your column is always well written and informative. I often learn from them. You are appreciated, Mr Ngozi.... I no get energy to scroll up for you last name 🙂


  2. Apt!!! But will the pause to think? One day, Nigerians will get to the breaking limit and only God knows what will become of it. How many families can feed now? Both rich and poor are facing this but for how much longer. Yet this people continue unabathed.

  3. Hmmmmmmmm...word! We so used to normalcy whenever it comes to cruel gov't policies. I'm so tired of this country honestly, it seems as if nothing would ever work here.

    How I wished the allowed the British to continue maybe things wouldn't have been too bad now.

  4. Food for thought. Most Nigerians will only shout and curse for few days then return to status quo. I think we are evolving as a people to harsh realities that won't change. Make we dey see how far the coping mechanism go carry us reach until we do the needful..


  5. Well written Mr Ngozi.We are so use to the hardship but again wetin man go do.God dey na poor man prayer be that.

  6. There's no lie to what you wrote. I hope the rumour about petrol is not true there's a limit to what people can condone, this survival ability maybe overstretched in the future.

  7. Who knows the solution to these problems???

  8. I'm just afraid of that breaking limit. I wonder what will happen at that point. It looks scary

  9. "But Nigerians are a resistant species. They will survive whatever comes their way. They have developed thick skin to economic strangulation. Every Nigerian deserves a certificate, Certificate of Survival"

    This summaries the topic. Even if petrol is inflated to N1,000 per litre, Nigerians will still find a way to survive. They will complain and complain, but they will still find a way.

    The Leadership knows this, that's why they keep churning put the most wicked policies. They know all we do is to complain.

  10. Well written piece. I hope and pray that the fuel increment remains a rumour. If we have leaders that have brain with the hardship we are going through, insecurities here and there, that will be the last thing they would want to do. Soro soke didn't teach them anything.

    I pray they shelf that decision.

  11. Aptly written. I am so scared of the breaking limit. I'm scared of what will happen when the people can no longer adapt.

  12. Lol @ certificate of survival... Only God can see us through in this country cos I don't know how we intend to fight those heartless leaders.
    The hunger in town will still make some youth collect as little as 500 naira for them to fight back protesters if there is protest.

    It is well

  13. Nice one.
    Everyone has a breaking point.
    I pray Nigerians don't get to their breaking point.

  14. We need to get to the breaking point. Nigeria is already breaking Nigerians.


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