Nigerians still hold the record for being the most ingenious and creative human beings in the world- especially when money is involved. Living conditions have forced us to resort to all forms of extra-orthodox means in a bid to survive in this highly competitive society. Consider the case of the well-dressed First Class graduate from the University of Ilorin who meets you in Benin and has no transport fare to attend an interview in Kaduna after searching for a job for 5 years (how did he get t-fare to Benin, and what is he doing in Benin?); to the brilliant undergraduate who was on his way to being the youngest First Class graduate in his department in, but had his dream cut short by circumstances occurring beyond his control and urgently needs money to do one surgery or the other.
Then consider the case of the victim of Sharia Law in the North who converted the property of another and had his hands cut off with no visible means of livelihood, other than displaying his mangled limbs to the hustlers and hardworking people of Lagos State. And then the classical case: that of the able bodied man, who has no visible impairment to his morphological structure, nor disadvantaged by any circumstance of his birth, nor any other extraneous act of man occurring beyond his control which serves to be detrimental to his success in life. Yet, he meets you at the park at Ring Road, at Yaba Market, and on the busy streets of Surulere, where you are jejeciously minding your own business with a very sorry face and a cock and bull story (which I like to refer to as Chukwuma and Nwawo tale) about how his Grandmother in the village prevented him from succeeding in life, or the story about his pregnant wife who is currently in the labour ward and needs money to do a ‘Sheasarian Operation’.
Now, how this concerns me as a tax-paying Nigerian citizen (or rather, the son of a tax paying citizen), I can’t say, but these men on journey from Jerusalem to Jericho in search of Good Samaritans are extremely experienced in the practice of getting you to part with your hard-earned naira notes, and have a way of making you feel bad if you can’t help them. Some of them can perform better than most Nollywood actors when recounting their tale of woes. In fact, a Literature student preparing for WAEC can rely on their story to practice how to identify literary elements and Figures of Speech.
Apart from these unfortunate individuals, we also have begging by corporate agencies and respectable business organisations. Many will attest to the fact that hardly a day goes by without you receiving a plea for monetary assistance from these network providers which is couched in an intuitive manner. Consider this message I once received:
“Do you know that sitting down on a cushion chair for prolonged periods can cause cancer of the buttocks? For more interesting health tips, text YES to 3000.”
I am justified in regarding this type of message a plea for monetary assistance because the information they are offering to supply you with is not something not already known to an average Nigerian. Besides, the offer to supply information on a specific subject matter such as health tips is such that someone actually requiring such information will not be helped beyond the rudimentary knowledge he already possesses if he actually subscribes to such service. The better consensus will be for such a person to resort to the internet where he will get a wider range of such specific information at a cheaper rate.
Then when you subscribe to these information services, the issue of renewal of subscription comes up. Here, the network providers cross the terrain from begging to stealing. In short- you won’t be informed or reminded that your subscription will be automatically renewed. They impose it upon themselves to deprive you of your precious 50 NGN airtime for a week of disturbing SMS’s which consume space in our phone storage. Then when you call Customer care to complain of this unwelcome trend, all they have to offer you is their apologies.
Recently, network providers crossed the line from mere stealing to broad-daylight robbery. That is, deducting money from your airtime credit without even informing you that you spiritually subscribed to one service or the other. Many times you just receive messages that your exquisite 50 NGN Airtime credit has been deducted for Caller Ring Back Tune or whatever, and you can’t even remember subscribing to such service, and the funny thing is that it always happen when you just heavily recharged your line after a long credit- drought.
Inasmuch as MTN and other network providers are prepared to continue this brigandry, I am also prepared to continue in my boycott of recharge of my phone lines. Thank God for sophisticated services such as wifi which ensures that I can connect to the internet without the help of mobile networks.
I am Oluwanonso_Esq on Twitter.