When the quintessential Lagos state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola revealed few days ago that more than N36 billion is spent by Lagosians annually to organise parties, he was merely stating a long known and obvious social malady among the vast majority of Nigerians. What this writer rather finds incomplete in the governor’s statement was its inability to generalise the phenomenon by including the entire Nigerian race both at home and abroad to the list.
Governor Fashola made the confounding statement at the 4th edition of the Lagos Ignite Enterprise and Employability project over the weekend declaring that Aso Ebi alone gulped a minimum of N1.2 billion monthly. In a well prepared statistic and careful study carried out by the Lagos state government in five local governments (Agege, Mushin, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ikorodu and Ikeja), it was discovered that about N3 billion was spent on 1, 555 parties held within the period. Aside this, the governor was unequivocal as he revealed how much was spent or went into paying for DJs, MCs, food and drinks. At the end, a staggering N36 billion was believed to have been spent by people living in Lagos annually, an amount which does not represent a comprehensive study if one takes into account same parties held on a daily basis in large local governments like Alimosho, Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos-Island, Surulere among others.
There is no denying the fact that we are a sociable race. Apart from the fact that we are the most religious people on earth, giving our all to religious institutions which today have become the temple of financial gratification feigned by wealth and prosperity seeking men of God, our attitude and penchant for the good things of life especially in the form of partying, gallivanting and wasteful spending is second to none. In as much as this writer believes everyone has the right to spend their wealth anyway and anyhow they deem fit, we are a people stung by the craze of life’s amusement and earthly enjoyment that we forget there should be a need to save for a rainy day. Despite the global financial crunch and massive poverty witnessed in the country, some Nigerians still go their way to hold parties, spending with reckless abandon. In the midst of want and deprivation, such parties pursue wanton spending spree such that in the end add little or nothing to the development of the society or uplift of the common man on the street. The urge to show off, impress invited guests or oppress friends and neighbours runs in our blood that we fail to realise that such attitudes are only vanities of life which blow nobody any good.
When one thinks of the money people waste to organise parties in Nigeria, one begins to imagine if we do not have the sensibilities to create avenues for people to fish daily rather than allow them eat such fish at the instance of our discretion. We are so rapacious that we do not think of the next man and his feelings. It is only in Nigeria that social events are held in public space much that the only road leading to one’s house is blocked by party wielding individuals. As if that is not enough, the noise which emanates from the loudspeakers is enough to turn a deaf man into further deafness despite series of laws against noise pollution. One would think by the time the party ends, a dint of apology would suffice by the party organisers, yet what one shockingly finds is the characteristic arrogant and I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude typical of wasteful and big spending Nigerians blindly displayed.
This writer is however not comfortable with the fact that the Lagos state government’s study beamed its searchlight only on Nigerians living in the state vis-à-vis the parties they organise. What is good for the Goose should also be good for the Gander and in this case, the study should also have beamed its searchlight on government spending annually. It is no news that government at all levels engage in profligate spending. Party conventions, election primary and party nominations, political associate burial, child dedication or wedding, aggrieved party members meeting; bogus allowances and salaries among others are some of the issues which need serious research on, especially on how much is expended on each event.
For the fact that at the national level, the nation’s legislature gulps more than a trillion naira to service mediocrity and a moribund structure should be the reason why the political class must first remove the pecks in their own eyes first before the lower class which they rule over. A situation where in the budget, billions of naira is allocated to service the stomach of the presidency is another reason why wasteful spending should be looked into so that there can be enough money to pay striking lecturers.
When it comes to spending, be it for parties or other social occasions, we are known to be the best. It is not certain if such attitude is age-long, yet it appears to be an inherent culture which is near impossible to rectify. Even when we travel outside the shores of the country, Nigerians are usually known to display wealth indiscriminately. Our history and love for material things and crude showiness have raised a generation who know nothing other than to throw parties with noisy exhibitionism without regard for humility and quietness.
We have refused to harness our wealth for modernization and development. The most unfortunate angle to this phenomenon is the realisation that the average Nigerian youth is so social cum money conscious that any little money earned is quickly thrown into organising the latest bash were most of those invited drink their lives to stupor, dance their conscience away and in the end fail to add value to their lives and others. The average Nigerian youth lack thinking skills and entrepreneurial instincts, they are not business oriented and lack investment ingenuity. They are stagnant, uncreative and unable to take risk. What most are interested in is how to throw the next big swimming party, spending with reckless abandon. It is no wonder today’s youth cannot escape the wanton poverty bequeathed on them by the country’s socio-political forces which continue to hold power, want to continue for a third term in 2015 and still wish to hold it beyond 2050.
Despite the billions of naira spent monthly and annually on parties in Lagos as enunciated by Governor Fashola, it is pertinent to note that we must be very careful in how we critique several of what this staggering amount of money is spent on, if the attendant socio-economic benefit is anything to go by. The fact that our craze for wasteful spending and partying is perceived to be gratuitous; this writer acknowledges the avenue it has opened for many to make something tangible from such parties. The reason for this is primed on the fact that all of these parties in one way or the other has provided surprisingly huge revenues for the government in terms of taxes paid as a result of private or public spaces used while all the materials used, both tangible and intangible, continue to rake in millions of naira for those who provide them. From the artists who are called to perform, wine retailer, caterers who cook the food, the servers, rental company, the M.C to the D.J, gift shops, event decorators, make-up entrepreneurs, the Aso- Ebi marketer to mention a few, all come to play in providing one service or the other for a social event to be a success. These parties have led to series of economic linkages which necessarily should be encouraged if unemployment must be reduced.
It is however not the profit-making side to parties that should be castigated but rather the culture of unnecessary and unwarranted spending on parties which provides nothing but waste amidst poverty and want. If waste is reduced to the barest minimum and people are encouraged into putting their wealth in useful ventures rather than investing money on unprofitable parties and crude showiness, factual development would be achieved while many would be lifted out of poverty.
Written By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi