The recession, the fancy word that economists use when they want to tell us that our country is in economic hardship.
It has gone into the vocabulary of all household in Nigeria so that when a husband wants to tell his wife that there is no money he would say blatantly “don’t you know that there is recession” or a mother to her daughter when she sees her with an expensive hair “come, this recession didn’t reach your side?”
The word was so popular that in May 2016 it was one of the most searched words for that month. That was when the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics announced officially that Nigeria had gone into recession.
The recession saw it all in Nigeria.
It saw the rise and fall of the rampage on our pipelines in the Niger Delta; it was there when prices of goods and services went through the roof; it was there when prices of dollars skyrocketed; it saw the rise of the separatist group – Biafra, in the South East; It went to London with our President and came back with him and it even saw the rise and fall of Evans.
So how did we survive it?
Nigerians are very resilient people; we have been through a lot both individually and as a nation, yet we have found ways to adapt. So the question from the onset is not if we will survive but how we will survive.
Below are 7 funny ways we battled recession and won –
1. We Reinforced Our Bargaining Skills
It never went away in the first place. The recession only made it better and stronger.
And why not, since the traders kept increasing their prices. We had to survive.
Bargaining is a right if we must buy from you as a seller. You have to give us the opportunity to battle it out with you. It’s a pity that some of these new supermarkets with price tags have considerably reduced the fun of shopping.
We want to be able to look the seller in the eyes and ask him/her “are you selling for N1000 or should I check your neighbour? The trader on his/her part will give you a look that is an unmistakable sign to get out while trying his/her best to keep you and make you buy.
That is how we love to buy and sell and the recession made it better.
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2. Okrika (aka OK) is King
OK is almost legendary in Nigeria. And if you have not used it before, am not sure if you are from this part.
As any goods and services in Nigeria, the prices of new clothes, shoes and bags rose out of our reach. But we can’t go about our businesses naked, we had to buy something.
In comes OK. It’s our only chance, even if it means buying the one that had lasted for decades.
The demand jumped.
And I think the traders know that their items were in high demand. They brought it along the road so you won’t bother going to the market. It was just right there for you to buy when you are going home from work or right in front of your house.
It was a recession, we had to survive and we had to do that any possible way we deemed fit even if it means changing half our wardrobe to O.K
3. Our Generators Got a Good Rest
During the boom time – the time when the economy was doing so well – a lot of us didn’t care what the NEPA people (it is still NEPA to me because nothing has really changed) did with the electricity.
We used our generators so long as they refused to give us light.
And then the recession hit. The busy generators went quiet overnight.
To add salt to injury, just as the impact of the recession began to bite, fuel prices rose from just N65 to N145 – more than 100% rise. While in the international market, oil prices have plummeted to record lows.
What was the implication? Even more rest for the generators
4. We Got More Exercise
Are you wondering what the exercise is?
It was a recession, things were quite hard and it won’t hurt to save some money with any given opportunity.
You got off the bus at the bus stop and you calculated the distance before you got home. For the first time you realized “I can trek this thing.”
That is how the exercise began. You had saved the N100 you could have given the okada man.
After the first three days, your body changed, you realize that in fact, the trekking is good for your health. And you began to tell all your friends that you trek home from the bus stop because you needed more exercise.
Hey, we know the truth.
5. We Can’t Find our DSTV Remote
Some people really could not find their DSTV remote. I witnessed it in a friend’s place.
The DSTV was abandoned for so long that when they finally wanted to subscribe for it, they could not find the remote.
Entertainment is good for our mind, but when it becomes too expensive for us, we go for alternatives.
So we played our Whot and played our Ludo. Yes, we have our own entertainment and we are proud of it.
6. We Drank more Water than Fancy Juice and soft drinks
We love to wash down food, especially when it’s a good meal.
But the thing is that water does not really wash down. What does is a cold soft drink. So when you hear a man with a toothpick picking his teeth say “give me something let me wash down this food.”
You know he is not asking for water. He is asking for a cold soft drink – the type that is so cold it hurts in the throat.
Then the recession hit, suddenly you can use water to wash down.
The man picking his teeth will no longer ask “give me something to wash this food down.” Rather he would say “give me cold ‘pure water’ to wash this food down.” He didn’t ask for bottled water but cold ‘pure water.’
Why not, when sachet water has remained at N10 despite the inflation that hit the economy. We had to survive.
7. We stopped going to fancy restaurant
The recession did not only force us to stop eating at fancy restaurants, it made some people learn to cook their own food.
It is a thing of pride where we eat our food. If it is possible to carry around a sign in our forehead as a mark for eating in a particularly expensive restaurant, don’t be surprised that a lot of people will wear it proudly. They will even mention it to you in case you pretend you didn’t see it.
Then the recession hit. Two things happened.
Firstly you began to learn how to cook. You would put water on the fire to prepare jollof rice. Then you would pick your phone or your laptop and began to ask search engines how to cook jollof rice. When the direction you read is not clear, you would call your mum.
“Mummy, how many cups of rice will fill that small pot you bought for me?” That is where your questions start. Then you bombard her all day with everything you need to know about preparing jollof rice.
Secondly, the day you are so busy that you can’t cook, you would listen closely to hear Mama Constance – who lives down the road – shouting “hot rice!”
Since the fancy restaurant is out of your reach, you have to eat. So long as the food tastes good, it doesn’t matter where it is coming from.
The recession will not leave our vocabulary any time soon. But I believe it made us better people. At least if not for anything, some of us can now cook our own food.
Some people have realized the importance of managing money well and know the difference between making good money decision and bad money decision.
Some have realized the importance of being the best at what they do to avoid layoffs.
For us as a nation, we have not needed anything so badly. If we had no recession, the attempt the Federal Government is making to diversify the economy of the country away from oil would not have begun.
The attempt to cut waste would not be talked about in the corridors of power.
It is one of the best things that has happened to us both individually and as a nation and we have to appreciate the fact that it came.