Monday, 26 December 2016

Nigerians Drowning The Recession Sorrows With Alcohol

Bogged down by the effects of recession on critical sectors of the country’s economy, Nigerians turn to booze for succour, writes Punch’s Gbenga Adeniji.
The music was deafening. A crowd of alcohol drinkers in cheery discussions populated beer parlour and joints. It was carnival-like with smoked fish, grilled meat and other spiced edibles competing for space across tables.
From the urbane to the unsophisticated, the excitement at the rendezvous cast an unmistaken jollity on their faces. For a second, you might be tempted to ask: what recession?
Amid the frenzy, 28yrs old Akeem Oladimeji sat on a deserted table, alone, fondling his smartphone.
The photographer had taken four bottles for the night. He was on the verge of emptying the content of the fifth one when the correspondent nestled to him.

Staring dispassionately into his half-filled glass, he stated that despite economic recession, nothing had changed in the booze world.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is in recession for the first time in 25 years, largely due to a fall in global oil price and mismanagement of the economy.
The situation continues to take its toll on critical sectors of the country’s economy, resulting in job losses in the banking, aviation and manufacturing sectors among others.
It is significantly visible in real income, wholesale retail trade, employment, industrial production.
Many states and companies owe workers backlog of salaries while others are getting half salaries.
However, Nigerians are not consuming less alcohol.
Oladimeji is one of many Nigerians who have found comfort in a bottle of beer. He said that in fact, he recently fell in love with a new beer brand.
He said, ‘‘I take five bottles daily and drink three times a week. Nothing has changed in the booze world. As it was in the beginning of booze, so it is now in time of recession and so it shall continue to be. Booze does not understand the language of recession.’’
Alcohol love in recession
A phone engineer, Ganiyu Olajide, told the correspondent that he drinks to erase his worries.
“I may be thinking about something or bothered but once I start drinking, I take it off my mind. I may return to the worry the next day but for that moment, I forget all worries,’’ he said gulping a glass.
Noting that the recession was biting hard and affecting his business, Olajide said drinking takes all his worries away.
“I take four bottles weekly. It used to be three bottles. Once I finishing drinking in a day, I go to sleep and forget all my worries for the night. The next day, things will sort themselves out.”
He said that before the recession, many artisans usually patronised him to repair their mobile phones.
“The situation is so bad now that my customers prefer to use the money they make to cater first for their needs. Some may even be proposing repair on credit and will I survive with such? A man who has not eaten cannot be thinking of repairing a damaged or problematic phone, ’’ he added.
One of the regular drinkers at a bar in Ogun State, Dotun, said he noticed an upsurge in drinking since recession began. According to him, more people now go to beer parlours to drown their economic sorrows in alcohol.
Dotun added, “Whenever I want to drink, I can take five bottles of my favourite beer. My drinking has not stopped, if anything, I take a bottle extra. If any regular drinker in Nigeria says he is affected by recession, then it means before recession, that person has not been drinking well. People drink even more now. You need to see bars, clubs and joints on weekends.”
Opposite Dotun was a seller of second-hand clothes, Akachukwu Eze.
Eze noted as he sipped the dreg of the beer bottle he held, ‘‘I cannot kill myself. I have to move on because if one does not move on with life, life will surely move one. I try to bury my pains and thinking by drinking. I take two bottles twice weekly; Saturdays and Sundays. The level of lack and poverty has increased with recession. Notwithstanding, people have to drink.
“People do not buy new clothes not to talk of buying second-hand clothes now as recession bites harder. They prefer to use the money they have to buy what to eat than buy clothes. I am thinking of a new business idea to complement the business I do at the moment.
“Rather than indulging in things that one could regret later, I prefer to forget whatever is bothering me at that moment by drinking. Though I know that drinking gives part-time joy away from sorrows, the momentary joy would go a long way in stabilising one, especially at this time.”
Besides, a former worker with a Lagos-based construction company, identified as Emeka, who is a regular customer in one of the bars located at Social Club Road, Abule-Egba, said many Nigerians would have become depressed but for booze.
He told said that his troubles escalated when he lost his job in October this year, adding that things had since become tough for him.
According to him, he decided to indulge in drinking because over time, it has proven a reliable activity anytime he is unhappy.
Emeka, who said he drinks three cold bottles of his favourite beer brand every day, stated that such often cleared his mind of worries.
He said, “As the first child of my aged mother, it has become my responsibility to cater for her and my two siblings after the death of our father in 2014. I was working with a construction firm before I got laid off with some other workers as the company downsized. The management said it was due to recession. Since then, I have been searching for a new job.
“I met some of my friends and told them to inform me of any vacancy in their work places. It was in November that I realised that I should find another thing to do because that month marked the third month after I was sacked. Where are the jobs when companies keep sacking their workers to survive? I know that the fall of a man is not the end of his life. I have faith that things will get better someday. I am planning to start a small business once I get some money because the recession is really affecting the poor. Drinking helps me cope with the harsh economic condition in the country. Nigeria is a tough place to live in.”
The man who is in his 30s, stated that he could have become frustrated but for booze which created an avenue for him to meet others with varied problems and they rob minds.
It shall be well with our country.

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