Ever since Buhari and his team of sweepers ascended the throne in the rocks of the Aso Palace, the economy has descended into a never ending abyss of degradation. The Change agenda did change Nigeria, but not necessarily for the better. However, do not be misled. This piece is not about the gods of the Niger, but the tyrants of the food market and the brats who will not accept it.
Permit me to pull of the gargantuan garment of vagueness and clarify these words. I am called upon to scribble due to the nefarious case going on in our campus. What case, you ask? I speak of the situation of cafeteria owners and customers battling it out on the gladiatorial front of price negotiation, on which they have been thrown by the gods of the Aso palace. Of course, the battle is not as one-sided as you would think.
THE VOICE OF THE TYRANTS
In spite of being portrayed as the tyrant in the stories that have been crashing on the waves of our attention, do not be misled. They do not sit comfortably on some ivory throne, enjoying their glorified villainy like the antagonist of a sci-fi movie. They are the food sellers and cafeteria owners. Ask them, they will tell you that they are the victims here. And, do we disagree with them? Well, why don’t you decide that?
The price of food has become a source of ridicule – the kind that generates jokes and banters. The cost of providing food for the populace is not what it used to be. The “tyrants” are crying that their business is no longer profitable and increment is essential. In fact, it is rumoured that the man in charge of one restaurant that sounds a lot like something Saraki does not have (that is, Class), is championing a movement for the price of rice to become fifty naira per spoon. The supposed reason for this is the fact that thirty naira per spoon is no longer seen as fair by him/her. However, this is while a cafeteria like God First Restaurant still comfortably sells at the same price.
Despite the circulating broadcast signed by the Students’ Union House Secretary (more on that later), the belly of the conversation is heavy with a pregnancy of rumours. A conspiracy of some sort is reported to be towering and I fear it will soon be crushed by the light of day. Please, do not be misled, not all rumours are untrue.
THE WHINE OF THE BRATS
Ask the average student who frequents cafeterias, he will go on and on about the dearth in good quality-cum-quantity of food being provided in these pseudo-restaurants. As him and he will speak of rude attendants, unhygienic utensils and lackluster meals. Ask him, I say, and he will colour your ears with words of his dissatisfaction with the way these culinary services are being provided.
From his perspective, he is a student who lives on very limited allowances and has to buy books, gadgets, clothes and food, all from the little stipend. How is he to feel when he has to pay more than budgeted for just to be able to quiet the demons lurking in his stomach?
What he sees as rightful and militation for what is just is what the other camp sees as the mere whine of a brat, the cry of a privileged kid who refuses to see through the lens of practical reality. The economy has reached a state lower than what we had thought to be rock bottom and he does not seem to care. He is a brat – a whiny brat. That is, of course, according to the tyrants.
NOW, WHO IS RIGHT?
As is evidenced by the tone of this article so far, it is expedient to focus on objectivity here. Nonetheless, one must not sacrifice common sense on the altar of objectivity or political correctness. Let us forget the release by the Students’ Union for a second, it has the putrid stench of feigned bellicosity anyway. Its lateness surely does not help matters either.
We must always remember that the price of food at present is the lowest it will ever be. Therefore, if it is thirty naira now, we know it will never be lower than that. Thirty naira is the lowest it will ever be. If we encourage an increase in the price, we must be cautious of the fact that we are allowing the price of food to reach a level it will never go down from. If it becomes fifty naira, we might as well close down all cafeterias, or else, they will soon ask to make it a hundred naira.
It is also of extreme necessity to reiterate the fact that prices of foodstuffs are not what they used to be. In light of these two arguments, a middle ground has to be reached for sanity to be preserved. Despite this, it should also be regarded that the students are the customers, who have the upper hand. The Student’s Union has to be more focused on investigation and not negotiations. There should be a set of people whose duty is to assess the rise in food price in commensuration with the cost of food production, and then come to a conclusion as to whether or not the price of food should be increased. After all, some argue that the brats were being cheated by the tyrants long before the economy came crashing down like Nigeria’s Senate President’s dignity, thus, for them, it has been evened out! To these people, the price which used to be higher than necessary before the Depression, is now at par with the worth of the services being provided.
I shall conclude the lettering of these thoughts by charging the Project Work administration to strive to rise to the occasion and not slug their way through this dire and time-sensitive situation. The way this will be handled shows just what sort of administration we should be expecting, lest we all start to wish we voted for a certain Mellanby Hall resident instead. If a word is enough for the wise, then what shall we say of 1,048 words?