The cost of living crisis is seen taking a toll on many Nigerians, as it is common these days to see people trekking to and fro their workplaces for the lack of financial capacity.
Recently, one Carter Oshodin, a staff member of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) reportedly committed suicide citing the failure of the Federal Government to pay the salaries of academic and non-academic staff of universities, which left the deceased financial incapacitated.
A colleague of the deceased said late Oshodin on his Facebook page had lamented that he could not meet his finances and was finding it difficult to pay his two daughters’ school fees.
The incident, according to the report, took place at Umelu, a community in Upper Sakponba, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State.
Oshodin was one of several persons affected by the Federal Government, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and labour associations in the tertiary education sector, placed on ‘No Work No Pay’ policy of the government, and have not been paid salaries for seven months due to the ongoing strike by university unions.
Femi Alatise, a senior lecturer in the department of Psychology at the Fountain University, Osogbo in Osun State, who spoke with BusinessDay, said there was a correlation between financial lack and mental health disorders.
“Late salary payment or pension can lead to mental crises, except for those who have developed coping mechanisms from their religious faith or those with a fulfillment mentality.
“Salary arrears could lead to the financial impact on a person which, if not well managed, could lead to depression,” he explained.
Gboyega Abikoye, a professor of Clinical Psychology and national president of the Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists, blamed suicide on a number of factors, compounded by the cost of living crisis across the country.
“If suicide is committed just by delayed salary, many of us would have been dead by now. Suicide, like other psychological problems, can be caused by a host of factors, including biological, psychological, and socio-environmental. Most completed suicide is attributable to a combination of several of these factors,” he said.
He reiterated that it is simplistic and illogical to attribute suicide to only financial challenges. If financial challenges are the only etiological factors in suicide, most people would have committed suicide.
People who committed suicide simply failed to see a way out of their problems. There are many other factors behind this kind of act. Due to the environment people found themselves.
“We all have tendencies to suicide, it could be biological, which means that it could run in their blood or there are other factors that could have triggered such. The man might have been suffering from a psychological disorder,” he noted.
The sad incidence of the suicidal death of Oshodin is believed by many to be an ill-wind blowing hard on all and sundry in the country due to the cost of living crisis.
In May 2022, state workers and pensioners lamented how they were carrying the burden of a cash crunch in the country, with many state governments failing to ensure regular payment of salaries, gratuities, and other entitlements.
Some stakeholders explained that pensioners were worst hit by the failure of governors in some states of the federation to perform their responsibilities. Some of the states mentioned were Ekiti, Benue, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, Abia, Ondo, Edo, and Kano, where pensioners are abandoned to fate without any help from the government to cushion their hardships.
Some lecturers from some of the public universities who spoke with BusinessDay lamented ill-treatment meted by the Federal Government for demanding for ‘their rights.’
“Why are you surprised that a university staff committed suicide? Is that not what the ruling government is agitating for before endorsing to withhold the salary of tertiary education staff?” He asked.
The lecturer, who would not have his name mentioned, argued that the Federal Government has not made life easy for the citizens, and subsequent trauma could lead a man to commit suicide.
According to him, the problem goes beyond ASUU; the government is just using the academic staff impasse as an excuse to perpetrate wickedness.
“If it is all about ASUU, what is happening to the salary of the non-academic staff where this staff belonged while alive? NASU and SSANU called off their strikes some weeks ago, yet they are not paid,” he said.
BusinessDay findings indicate that many Nigerians are more aggressive these days due to what life is throwing at them.
Sunday Oluwole, a commercial bus driver that plies the Ikotun-Cele route, shared how a woman almost slapped him for asking her to leave the road while she was trekking home one evening.
“The woman ran after me to slap me because as I was overtaking a vehicle, I didn’t want to hit her so I asked her to leave the road, but instead of leaving the road she ran after my bus to slap me in anger,” he explained.