Nigeria is broke I heard, well to many poor Nigerians, the country has always been broke, I suppose now with the reduced oil revenues, it is hitting home more than usual.
Somewhere in Sabo, waiting for a friend was a Hausa man sitting beside me with a thin wood separating us. Too quiet so I started to chat with Musa.
The conversation flows easily so I asked what his job was. He is a manicurist. “Really?” I thought that was interesting.
He was very happy to tell me how good business has been but at the time he had no customer so I thought I could get my nails done too.
“Ha, only male.” He said with a smile.
“What’s wrong with female nails?” I showed him my finger nails so he could see I just had them done a week prior, that I was only curious and wanted to see how good he is given the service only costs 80naira.
Musa was really sorry that it has nothing to do with me, he looked around as if to say, in another circumstances he could have done it but definitely not with so many people around to judge him or question his faith.
So I left him off the hook, and he told his story.
Musa is 41 years old, up until 3 years ago he was in Port Harcourt doing the same job, most of his clients were women, he makes enough money that he was content with his life.
Then his sister sent for him to take up the Nigeria government sponsored pilgrimage to Mecca. He could not say no to the juicy free offer. So he said to me “I’m Alhaji now” with a grin.
“That’s great” I congratulated him.
He looks energetic and outspoken but with his new title comes change in lifestyle, so he is no longer able to do female nails as that is against his renewed belief/title.
“Is that why you didn’t return to PH?” I asked. Alhaji nodded in agreement.
There are more clients in PH than Osun but decided to stay in Osun as living among people who share his believe system is better for him.
“How would you say your life now compared to when you were in PH?” I asked. Alhaji Musa went shy and looked away, then shrugged his shoulders. He changed the subject by pointing to the elderly man in the crowd to be his brother-in-law.
Here I wonder, only if Nigeria government could do a survey of all that they have sponsored for religious trips to get firsthand feedback to see how useful the program had been.
To a lay person like me, it’s still unbelievable that a country with 60% living in abject poverty spends about 1% of its annual budget on religious foreign trips – just doesn’t add up.
Thousands of Christians are also sponsored to Jerusalem yearly.
Sometimes I wonder, do we have to think hard to know where budget cut should go?
I think Muslim and Christian Pilgrims Welfare Boards should go if we are truly broke as a nation. Religious should be private affair which should be addressed privately.
Here’s an idea – How about spending the same budget on getting rehabilitation for those who sleep rough on our streets? God in His throne would be super pleased.