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Post-Covid-19 and Family Finances, By Michael West

Michael West
Michael West

As commercial life gradually returns to Nigeria despite the on-going efforts to contain the pandemic, looming frail economic reality is staring at many, if not most of Nigerian families, in the face. Things are yet to get back to normal. About six weeks of inactivity with measured easing of the lockdown is taking serious tolls on the economic strength of the people. We are back to the basics where holistic reconstruction of businesses is the inevitable.

The pandemic has brought pressure on the lean finances to meet regular needs, obligations and commitments. Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, officials have started dropping wires that connected light to many homes in their usual ‘debts recovery’ duty. Knowing that people who have been on lockdown for five weeks may not be financially buoyant to pay their light bills immediately, the PHCN officials are not ready to listen to excuses or promises. This will in turn add to the tension at homes.

As things continue to look better, in a matter of weeks, schools will begin to open. Another round of financial pressure will mount on the already depleted family resources. Rent, medical and sundry expenses will roll in notwithstanding the number of weeks that commercial activities were put on hold during the lockdown. Also, postponed events or ceremonies that would gulp some money are pending.

Meanwhile, what could have served as relief packages to the populace were ignored. The government is not fair to the masses of this country in this respect. What’s the percentage of the people that actually benefitted from the so-called palliatives? Two or three things would have brought some relief on Nigerian families if government had demonstrated enough sensitivity to the basic needs of the people. These are:

  • At least, two months free power supply would surely go a long way in easing the pressure on family finances. Ghana, our next door neighbour, gave her citizens three months free power supply because the people were not allowed to work, therefore they could not afford to pay their bills including light.
  • Three months’ rent should have been waived by the government. Every rent: residential, business et cetera should be captured in the three months’ rent relief since people were not allowed to work. Any landlord that flouts the executive order should be prosecuted.
  • The third idea was canvassed by Minister of Labour (State), Festus Keyamo, SAN, when he proposed that cable television stations should be asked to offer one month free subscription to Nigerians. Till now, nothing was done about it.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila took the two months’ free light proposal to President Mohammadu Buhari, nothing was done about it. This is very insensitive on the part of the federal government. If the first two proposals were approved and effected, Nigerian families would be grateful and be relieved as immediate pressure to pay light bills to avoid disconnection and rent would be minimal. These basic needs are part of the causes of emotional outburst and acrimony arising from pressure at homes as the lockdown eases. All the local and international donations have been “judiciously spent” on tackling Covid-19 while the hungry masses are left in the lurch. This is unfair.

A loving and united family is by far stronger than a rich family. The most destructive weapon against love, integrity, happiness, unity and joy in any marriage, is money. It is not having a lot of money that makes a marriage, it is knowing how to manage the available resources, including money that God has graciously provided.

Perhaps it is for a foreseeable period like this that inspired former University of Lagos don, Professor Samuel Ade Ojo, pioneer Director of French Language Village, Badagry, and Chairman, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, MFM’s Elders’ Forum, to write a book: “Dealing with Financial Issues in a Christian Marriage.” Purposefully written for Christian homes but the book largely applies to all married adults beyond the borders of religion, tribe and status.

Expectedly, many couples would be thinking and planning feasible business and financial strategies to recover from the losses and excessive spending incurred while the lockdown lasted. I decided to use reviews of the book today in order to help in the drive towards financial convalescence as a proactive response to possible economic challenges that would militate against family stability, love and peace as we gradually return to normal life.

In lucid but short separate reviews by Ambassador Pius Omotayo and erudite scholar Prof. B.C.A. Matanmi, the 204-page book offers a way out of financial quagmire that are likely to confront families in the post-Covid-19 economy.

Ambassador Pius Omotayo, in his own review of the book highlights the core values of transparency, mutual trust, understanding and cooperation among couples when it comes to financial matters. “When a nation’s economy is depressed, as ours is, it is, unfortunately, the individual family that bears the brunt. It does not matter where the blame lies or how much we criticize or even curse our political leaders for their incompetence, the crunch will run its full course. It is therefore left to families and individuals, to become prudent, resourceful, creative and insightful to keep their heads above waters and remain alive, to witness and enjoy the light that will come after this darkness.

“This book couldn’t have come at a better time than now. A loving and united family is by far stronger than a rich family. The most destructive weapon against love, integrity, happiness, unity and joy in any marriage, is money. It is not having a lot of money that makes a marriage, it is knowing how to manage the available resources, including money that God has graciously provided.

“The book is much more valuable than expensive, albeit, perishable gifts that we give to newlyweds. Help your family by learning from its rich content, save your marriage by applying the principles of prudent financial management and buy copies for your family and friends to spread the knowledge that will usher in financial comfort.”

On his part, Prof. Matanmi started by acknowledging the literary grandeur of the author in a simple language that everyone can read and understand. “The book is well-written in grand style. It is topical, as it deals with the management of finances in a Christian marriage setting. If finance is not managed properly, any marriage could collapse. The author made it clear that finance is one crucial element that determines the success of any marriage. Poor management could cause turbulence, instability, frequent crises between couples, disagreement, strife, quarrels, hatred, or tension et cetera. This issue is powerfully driven home by the author’s intellectual dexterity in strongly highlighting the unarguable truth that marriages thrive best and most satisfactorily with a sound financial management.

“The author enjoins all couples to realize that money is a core element of vanity and worldliness. The husband’s role in marriage is discussed and this includes his God-directed devotion and social responsibility to the wife and children by caring, showing honour and respect, living joyfully and pleasing the wife within his means as stipulated in 1st Corinthians 7:33. Also, it emphasises the important role of the wife in maintaining, strengthening and galvanising conjugal stability and financial sufficiency through prudence and judicial management of the family resources.

“Evidently, the author brought his pedigree, track record in the academia and institutional management that includes accountability in finances, and his experience as pastor and church elder to bear on the excellent quality of the invaluable book which is now available across the globe by many local and international bookshops and particularly by world-renowned online marketing hub, Amazon.”

 

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