Afolabi Monday is my good friend. This 56-year-old indigence of Osun State is a contract security guard hired and deployed to one of the many industries located along Lagos-Apapa expressway in Lagos.
He was hired by one of the frontline security companies, whose name I do not want to mention. Independent checks however revealed that most private security companies paid their guards half salaries.
I know he has been working as a private contract security guard for close to 10 years and still counting.
However, last week, Afolabi came to my house in Ifo, Ogun State lamenting that his contract private security company paid him half salary to all the guards guiding the industry.
He is not the only one who was paid half salary; his other colleagues also were paid the same all over the federation, even as were handed out token gifts for the celebrations of the out-going year.
He told me point-blank that the company deprived him and his family of celebrating Christmas and New Year, when he received N20, 000 which is half of his N40, 000 monthly salary.
The guard reigned abuses on the contract company, threatening fire and brimstone for their cruelty and insensitivity to the plights of the guards.
“Why on earth should the company subject guards to untold hardships in the era of cash crunch, he asked me”. I was dumbfounded and did not really want to answer the visibly angry security guard. But, I know deep down in me that my friend is a spindrift and loves partying, faaji like mad. .
But, fired by that tip-off, I hit the town running, so to say and spoke informally with some security guards attached to banks, government agencies, other industries, schools, religious bodies, and other corporate bodies. I did this in Ogun and Lagos States, while I used social media to interact with my friends nationwide.
Some bank guards from findings were paid full salaries and even extras with other fringe benefits for the yuletide celebrations.
In some corporate bodies including the media, staffers and other staffers collected their full pay and off-course other benefits.
Yes, their cash-scarcity hit our economy and in truth, some of us were compelled to cut your coat according to our size.
However, some private contract security companies paid half salaries to their hired guards. Others paid their guards full salaries.
Beyond these, some of us, despite the cash-scarcity, were reckless and excessive in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the New Year.
Without sounding judgmental, as if I am a saint, some of us spend, spend and spend as if there is no tomorrow, no January. This is January and I am dead broke.
Like some of us, who are still striving to imbibe the culture of moderation, stock-taking at the close of every year, I have learnt the hard, bitter way that moderation in all things is the key.
My security guard friend should be grateful to God and his company that he was saved from embarking on a spending spree in the name of impressing his family, relatives, church members, fellow Muslims, his community, and well-wishers.
It is good to buy chicken, goat, pig and ram for celebrations. But, I think it is wrong to buy these items on borrowed money and cut deep into your salary in the name of Christmas and New Year Celebrations.
Truth is that there are people out there with the capacity to buy goats, chickens, pigs, cows in trailers to celebrate anything under the sun.
All fingers are not equal. This is what we know and should strive at all times and circumstances to imbibe. I may sound like an old-school. But, I am a realistic person.
The Afolabis of this world should know that what we sow today, we reap tomorrow. Therefore, the meagre sums we save or invest today no matter our salary will certainly grow to become the great oak. Ask those who know better than me.
These days, I read a lot of motivational books. Honestly, I am trying very hard to break out of this poverty line. I hate being counted among the 130 million people living below the poverty line.
I know with God by my side, I will make it to the top as Ziglar, the self-acclaimed No 1 motivator in America wrote in his book. I know my readers are also striving to get to the top and stay there. God bless you all real good this 2024 and always.
Emmanuel Udom is a journalist and private investigator. He could be reached on: [email protected]