Ludo naija (one of hundreds of similar apps ) is a popular app on most phones in Nigeria precisely because of two reasons.
First “Ludo“, as the game is called is dependent upon pure luck to win or to lose.Inteligence not required. And Nigeria and Nigerians in all practical purposes now need more luck than brains. Only problem being that luck shows no favours.
Two, Ludo naija can be played offline which is really why it is popular. Millions of impoverished Nigerians whose lives are in a spinning topsy turvy by the government’s handling of Covid -19 must somehow kill time. To keep sane.
Those who still have active jobs in Nigeria are those employed by the government :civil servants. And that represents a small percentage of the population.
More than 80% of the people is in the so called private sector, a very sick segment nearing a coma.
The Federal government announced a “total lockdown” of 2 crucial states on March 30 which lasted for a month. It then modified it to include curfews and bans on “inter-state travel”.
Either measure was very poorly thought out and the result has caused an economic crisis that’s worse than a recession.
In Lagos, for instance, businesses must close by 3pm and open on alternate days. Given the traffic situation of the city this makes transactions difficult. The hours are too short.
And because of a ban on inter state travel, customers from other states (the heart and soul of the businesses )can’t come. They are also not able to do businesse via a process they call “Way Bill” where products are sent through commuter buses and local airlines.
The bulk of the manufacturing in Nigeria is done in Lagos and Ogun state which are hardest hit by the Lockdown measures. Government of Ogun state bans movements of all kinds on Saturdays and Sundays. This is bad for business. Farmers, for instance, are not able to get their produce to the market without being extorted and harassed by the battery of security forces that man check points on every hundreds meters leading to prices which people can’t afford.
In Kaduna state, a very important transit center in the North, the governor still maintains a lockdown and punitive quarantine regiments. This has driven businesses away leaving banditary and allied crimes in its wake.
The curfew has poleaxed night life and with it, breweries,hotels, bars, night clubs and the entertainment industry are in a flatline.
Education is a very huge sector and employs millions of people. That segment has been on ice since the end of March. Private school owners, teachers, booksellers, etc, are in real financial trouble. And the government is not in a hurry to look into this.
Churches and perhaps mosques make a lot of money. Banks depend on huge volumes of raw cash that they deposit each Monday morning. And because they hardly ever take out the money, banks were able to give out that to borrowers.
Starved of that money, the banks are hurting and like breweries, are laying off workers.
Millions have gone through their savings to stay alive and the accounts are empty. Banks beg customers to download Apps as they spread into the data and Google ad business. Anything to stay afloat.
A ban on commercial motorcycles and rickshaws (NAPEP)means unemplyment for millions.
There is no industry in Nigeria that is really doing well. None.
As weeks stretch into months, people groan and call president Mohammadu Buhari very unpleasant names. His propaganda machine has become very feeble as hunger and privations are very primal.
And the government doesn’t appear to have answers. The President and vice president have become absentee landlords and conflicting, orders and policies are issued and implemented by invoking Mr Buhari’s name via a mirage known as the “Presidency”
Governments business in Nigeria is collecting revenue and sharing it. Its main source of income, crude oil, has run dry. It has resorted to borrowing from even as far say as Brazil with all its own problems. It has reportedly dipped its hands into the pension fund. Its national assembly looks like employees of the government. And so, the government is as confused as its hapless citizens.
To add more pains, its currency, naira, is now just a piece of worthless paper internationally.
As the pains on the streets and homes get more real despite hours on “Ludo” and “Whot” the government announces that it will soon go into a recession. That’s not the whole story as a depression is closer to the truth.
And so, Ludo naija and Whot will continue to be popular. What else can the people do?