Thoughts Of A Single Nigerian Man


There are so many things running through my head right now. I feel a pain in my chest as I pay for fuel at the new price of N145 per litre. I remember that a few days ago, I left the same petrol station at 00:30, with a near empty tank after having queued for…


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There are so many things running through my head right now. I feel a pain in my chest as I pay for fuel at the new price of N145 per litre. I remember that a few days ago, I left the same petrol station at 00:30, with a near empty tank after having queued for over 5 hours. Today it takes only a few minutes to get my tank full. I drive out thinking of the fact that the prices of everything have gone up and the only thing that stays down, annoyingly so, is my salary. I begin to bitch and gripe about my never increasing salary as against ever increasing prices and then I remember that the Nigeria Police Force received over 800, 000 applications for 10, 000 vacancies. I remember that any time we complain about poor salaries, management reminds us that there are a thousand people out there who can do our jobs a hundred times better than us for less than what we are paid.

I get home and it’s dark. I fix my meal with the dim light from the rechargeable lamp that has been charged only for a few minutes even though it has been plugged in for over 48 hours. The darkness reminds me of my loneliness. It was dark yesterday too but I had company; a friend from out of town was travelling with his girlfriend and they missed their flight so they spent the night at my place. It was the first time I was meeting his girlfriend and I envied them the moment I saw them together. They didn’t shove their relationship in my face but I could see that what they have is good. I still feel envious as I eat alone, reminded of the much better meal that she had insisted on cooking despite my half-hearted protests.

I hate the fact that I’m happy for my friend and jealous of him at the same time. I am angry at myself because  five years ago, I let a good thing slip away from me and now she’s married to another man but I can’t seem to find the strength to move on. I get depressed when I remember that what she once felt for me was so strong and I was too blind. Now she feels only pity for me as she has moved on to better things. She still typifies the ‘perfect girl’ for me, not because I haven’t met other outstanding women, but simply because everything seems to always look good with hindsight. When I imagine what could have been, I leave out the quarrels, insecurities and harsh realities of life that would have made the relationship just like any other. I keep the picture perfect in my mind’s eye. Such fixation with the past is making history repeat itself with other possible girlfriends.

It’s almost 10pm and I remember that I have to be out of the house by 5am the next morning to go and face another challenging day at work. Work has become tedious all of a sudden because reality has called to question, the ideals that led me to turn down a better paying job in favour of a job that would let me live my passion and bring satisfaction and happiness. I ask myself more frequently whether it was worth it, especially these days when I can’t seem to afford anything and my friends drive cars that would take a year of not touching my salary at all to be able to afford buying. How satisfied and happy am I right now? I still enjoy the core aspect of my work, though I feel like I could trade that for a little more financial comfort. A foreign trip is being planned at work and I may or may not be part of that trip. I have contemplated walking away from everything without a backward glance once I touch down Schiphol but deep within, I know that I would still come back because my passion has such a strong hold on me.

With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to live in this country. Every day the hardship increases with no respite in sight. We sacrifice our dreams, hopes and desires on the altar of survival. Many people have stuck with their jobs simply for the money. There is always something else they would rather do but all those things don’t put food on the table. In a country where the unwritten code is doctor, lawyer, engineer or infidel, it would be deemed madness to say you want to pack a bag and travel the country or wake up in the morning to write poems which you will share in the evening with a gathering of friends. Each family in Nigeria is blessed with that one person that will quickly point out to you that you can’t feed a wife and children with poems or experiences; that Aliko did not become Dangote by being a historian or a museum curator. Your parents will ask God where they went wrong and beseech him to cure you of this madness and bestow it upon their enemies! When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of survival?

I haven’t called my mother in a while now though I think of her often. She’s going through some challenges that money can solve but I have not the money. I know she would love to hear my voice and just talk, pour out her heart to me which she used to do until I gave her the impression that she was disturbing me, especially when we discussed the absence of a woman in my life. It worries her. It worries me too. She has decided to give me some space. I really should pick my phone and call right now but it’s late and I may disturb her sleep, not that she would mind. I have only N34 on my phone though, so I will postpone the call yet again.

The battery of my laptop is fast running out and I have to hurry to finish whatever this is that I’m writing. If I don’t finish it today, it will become one of many things that procrastination did not allow me to finish. As I think of a conclusion more thoughts pour into my head. I think of church and how it has mutated to a profitable venture rather than a house of solace that it used to be. I think of the last girl I almost had sex with but didn’t because I was able to stop thinking with my penis before it became too late; the girl has a huge crush on me, I was only lusting, there was no condom…

I think of how my one room apartment will fit into the living room of a very close friend with space to spare. I think of all the things I used to believe in that I’m indifferent to now. I try to count the number of generators I can hear but I can’t because their different sounds have become one sound; a noisy chorus that will last all night even if power is restored. I think of the bottle of red wine that has been in my fridge for five months now because I don’t want to take alcohol again though I still take Smirnoff whenever I go to watch a game at La’Mango. It just doesn’t feel right ordering a soft drink in a bar. I think of the wrinkled shirt I will wear to work tomorrow if power is not restored. I think about the girl I sat next to in church on Sunday who seems to like me. I think of my friend and his girlfriend with a little less jealousy. I think about all the people that will read this and how many of them can relate and what percentage will view me as a disturbed and deeply troubled fellow. More thoughts keep pouring in but I will stop writing now lest I expose more of my soul than I already have.




Image via Single Black Man


  1. Od
    Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. I pray you find the courage to believe again. Life is not worth much when all we do is try to stay alive. It’s a horrible way to live, in my opinion.
    1. woyi_0c
      “Life is not worth much when all we do is try to stay alive. It’s a horrible way to live, in my opinion.”

      Opinion, ke!! It is the truth!! Also this is the one short comment you’ve written…on this…site. Hmm….. The moon is probably going to turn blue this night.

  2. woyi_0c
    ” I think of all the things I used to believe in that I’m indifferent to now.”

    Dude….I know this feeling all too well. Try not to get lost in the apathy.

  3. Brownie
    hmmn…all of that was deep, soo deep i was moved to tears.
    nd theres the big question, When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of Survival?
    1. MATAM

      Interesting question, Brownie

      With the way things are au moment, not anytime soon. Unless, of course, you’re the heir/heiress to a huge fortune. The Nigerian-Reality is a somewhat painful experience.

      See attached: an excerpt from an article on Nigeria.

  4. MATAM
    Our economy stifles everything but, we’re a surviving species. We’ve gotta thank the Good Lord for that.
    Ça va aller, Olu.
      1. MATAM

        As far as Nigeria of now is concerned, we must – Ruthless Pragmatism.
        Generally speaking, survival is ideal.
        It’s not always going to be like this. It’s gonna take time, we will feel pain, but it’d be worth it.

        Ca va Aller!

  5. Abike
    Wow. I felt this. Every single word. And it’s weird because I’m a woman. And I’m married to a man who loves me more than I deserve. And I’m blessed with beautiful kids. And I make more money than a lot of people will ever see. But somewhere inside me is this feeling of just staying alive. A lot of people will call me ungrateful and maybe I am, so I just smile and pretend to be happy. One thing I’ve realized is that I need to be happy in myself as the surroundings won’t bring real joy if you’ve not learnt to be content just by yourself and thankful for the little things. I’m trying. And every day is a little bit easier than before but I still have a long road to walk. I hope you get there too.
    1. Larz
      I had this happen to me a few years back until a friend forced me to look around me. Really look and see those ppl that are suffering. Since then, I have always counted my blessings. I also did volunteered in a homeless charity organisation for a couple of years and that really helped shape my perspective.

      I suggest you pour the little you have into the lives of others and watch how that heals you.

      Posted from TNC Mobile

    2. OluOlu Post author
      As much as we all need money, lots of it, money doesn’t have the capacity to give us lasting satisfaction. That empty feeling will still haunt us. I guess that is why Solomon, after having all and doing all, summed life up as vanity, a chasing after the wind.
    3. Dre
      You really might have everything others wish for but you need to be happy with yourself to not feel the way you feel. Discover those things that makes you happy and alive, you really can’t wait for someone or anyone’s saving on that. You need to save yourself dear. Only you possess the power to make yourself happy always and forever, don’t beat yourself over nothing. Stay happier everyday Abike.
  6. Zinny
    This Nigerian reality is such a pain.
    As for making the most of your finances, I’ll recommend ajo. It might stretch you for a bit, but it usually helps take care of semi-major projects. It also has the advantage of giving you enough to make an investment that can generate income for you. Lastly, is this passion of yours something that could generate income for you on the side? You might want to look into that.
    I do hope I’m not speaking out of turn with these recommendations; I mean well.
    1. Larz
      I dont understand this ajo business. Say 6 people contributed 10k everymonth and someone (different person per month) takes it 60k home every month. Isn’t it this same as saving the same 10k per month for 6 months with peace of mind i.e. No risk of on ppl not contributing after collecting their bounty.

      Posted from TNC Mobile

      1. anonymous aboki
        Lol, trust is a sensitive issue, so I see where your question’s coming from..

        Hence, why ajos should be formed with colleagues, or people that have sense, generally speaking..

        Urm, the underlying concept is the accountability to others – you’ve chopped their bar, coming under an enforceable obligation in the process..

        Unlike saving on your own, where you can just break the kolo, as the need or want arises..

    2. OluOlu Post author
      Thanks for reading and thanks for the concern. All suggestions have been considered at some point or the other; let’s just say I’m still searching for the most appropriate financial formula
  7. Buchi

    Life really is a pot of Beans.
    Stay in that job. There aren’t any any any found elsewhere. At least least have passion for it.

    The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.

    1. OluOlu Post author
      I agree, but sometimes, you want to go to the other side and see the grass for yourself before you agree that it’s not much greener than where you’re coming from
  8. Chris
    Someone said the first thirty years of an average Nigerian’s life is devoted to learning how to survive before you start thriving. It’s however frustrating that that period is gradually extending into first 40 years.
  9. Nelo
    Survival first, biko. I wish to quit my job and invest time in my passions which include sleeping and reading. But then there are incessant bills to be paid. Hopefully we will get there.
  10. CeeCee
    Crazy yeah…how we try so hard to be happy with all d craziness. If u Oliver, its hard to be a young, single person in Nigeria today but we gotta keep keeping on. Am d most optimistic person I know, I believe I will get there and so will you. So if u get d chance again dear, love like you’ve never been hurt and when u party, dance like no one is watching. Afterall, happiness is a journey not a destination.
  11. Od
    got it right about pouring what little you have into other people’s lives.

    , bro, the epistle I could have written is best reserved. But I’ll add a few things to what I wrote earlier. Btw, I’ve written quite a few short comments on this site. Lol.

    I suppose the easiest way to say what I want to say is to draw from my own personal experience.

    A few years ago, I had the choice to face survival or do something meaningful with my life. I chose the latter at great cost. I’m still paying the dues today. As a matter of fact, that path is one that will never stop taking from you. But, before you take off in fear, it does pay back immeasurably. I have not seen material payback enough to give you examples from my own life but I can tell you that much-touted intelligence that it is said on this site that I possess has a lot to do with choosing the path I did.

    When I thought of focusing on survival and then later doing something meaningful, the question arose for me: “at what point would I say that I have ‘survived’ and could now pursue meaning with my life?” It seemed to me that needs and responsibilities will never cease. With greater resources acquired will come greater responsibilities. I will never be able to say, “now I’m free to do what I need to do with my life.” Or else if I do say it, it will probably be when my best years are gone and I’m getting too tired to do much of value.

    So, I decided to pursue meaning now. I knew it would take some time. I knew that I would lose a lot of things to the pursuit. But I knew too that if I won what I was fighting for it would be worth everything I lost a hundred times over.

    What is meaning? Well, I am a Christian so that is where my own meaning comes from. For Christians, our lives mean nothing except in so far as they are promoting the testimony of Jesus Christ. I poured and am pouring my life into everything that I find that I can do to uphold the standards of Christ. That means that, for me, if there is an easier path in doing the wrong thing, even if it is supposedly a victimless immorality, I prefer not to do it and I don’t by God’s grace. If the right thing will cost my life or something precious to me too, then what I pray for all the time is grace to let it go and to uphold the honor of Christ.

    This is partly why, in my own peculiar circumstance, I chose to start a company and stay away from even enticing job offers that I know can make my life easier but will not yield commensurate return for my employers. That is just an example.

    It is also why the business I selected to pursue was one in which I found a way to improve the quality of life for everyone that I touch: from my partners to my employees to my customers to my community. I devoted my energy and thought to making sure that the product we would design and create, the practices we employ, the partnerships we are open to and our entry and occupation strategies for markets are all good for the people involved even if that meant that we would have to give up some benefit.

    I also selected that business to be an opening into the career that I planned which is focused on driving economic and ideological changes around the world. I know that a selfish world is bad for everybody so I am investing all my energy in packaging Christ’s message and standards of love in each thing I do to teach the world his way. This is why I said that Larz has the right idea: if you want fulfillment, it does not lie in changing your job or your location: it lies in serving other people and allowing them to serve you in return. That is Christ’s way: to do good to other people no matter the cost to you and, as much as it is in your power, to promote a culture of good in the world around you.

    Christianity does not mince words about the fact that living this way is extraordinarily demanding. So, you can’t just up and rush into it expecting your life to suddenly turn rosy. But it does say that there will be enough comfort and vindication to keep you going until the day that Christ returns to set everything straight in the world. So, as I often say, I live a Spartan life right now with little thought spared for survival and everything poured into creating something good and productive in the world expecting that in good time it will pay off and I will acquire greater ability to do more of that.

    If you asked me, I’d say you should do the same. Find something that you can do to make the world a better place and pour yourself into it and ask for some benefit in return for it, then do even better than that and go on like that. You will soon find your life taking on some measure of satisfaction and meaning for you. And you will soon find it easy to figure the hard times out and how to handle them.

    That’s the epistle y’all wanted, right? 🙂

      1. Od
        Lmao! Crazy dude! 😀

        You still keeping up with the Naruto anime?

        There’s a Boruto sequel too. And a spin-off involving Orochimaru. The latter was lackluster. But the former is pretty good so far.

        1. woyi_oc
          I stopped watching the anime years ago. I just stuck wit reading the comics since they had no filler episodes. I haven’t seen the boruto thingy yet. But it was fun seeing all them characters married with children. Kinda cute.
          1. Od
            Was bored a few days ago so I decided to look it up again. Been more than a year since I followed the anime. Found that they’d quit the fillers and picked up again. I didn’t hate the experience. Matter of fact, I liked it. The Boruto story started out a little annoying then it suddenly started looking interesting. The anime tied into that sequel so well that you’ll enjoy the anticipation. Just two chapters in though. It releases once a month. Next release is in July. Long stuff, averaging 50 pages each. Checked out Attack on Titans too. Cool stuff. Might start following it if I remember to, lol.
  12. Bukunmi

    You don’t have to be scared. Life gives lemon, better add lemonade. if it doesn’t, find an alternative sweetener. it’s OK to move on with life ESP in dis hard-up Nigeria as everyone who’s gone has threaded this path.
  13. Steavihn-Uzochukwu
    Suddenly, I don’t feel so alone. This piece may read depressing but its reminded me that life is a war. Everyday you wake, youre still in the fight. You keep going till you reach the next rest. It could be a bed or a better life but as long as you breathe you’re just a warrior waiting for the next fight. Thank you for sharing this OluOlu. Keep fighting.
  14. Butterflymind
    This made me so sad.
    You have two options, three if you consider the third an option.
    1. Keep doing what you love and find a way to find value for your work.
    2. Fight for survival and figure out when to transit. There are some who say that survival is like being in the road to an actual destination. You’ll need a map so you don’t end up going in circles.
    3. Do nothing.

    I hope you find all you’re looking for in due time.


  15. Exclusive
    This is as real as real can get.

    I was telling a friend about two days ago that I felt like my thoughts were runnning ahead of me. I guess it’s impossible that life will always “feel” satisfying.

    Better days are indeed ahead, Olu.

  16. fayte
    thank you. Its hard to see people admit their struggle and encourage others with it. no wonder people anticipated ur epistle. Nice nice one. I am a very very intelligent lady(no bragging) but all I ever want to do is to teach. People said I was wasting my brain when I started teaching in a secondAry school. And I began to wonder….why can’t someone do what gives her satisfaction? Does it always have to do with money? With the way our beloved country is going,I’ll answer myself. The struggle for survival is real and unending too. But God dey,as always.
    1. RZed
      I find it interesting that people look down on teaching. It is very, very intelligent people who should teach. I see it as a privilege – to be able to impart knowledge and shape young people’s worldviews. Teachers are people of influence. Please remain proud of your passion.
  17. titus

    These days I just fantasize on things. Like stumbling on a large sum of money….. then I think again… is that the only thing I need to survive? What do I need to survive? I don’t even know!
  18. OT
    I can relate to Oluolu’s situation in so many ways down to being single. I try to keep trying, pushing, praying. Though there are really bad days, where it seams despite your promise, life is leaving you behind and you are in a maze. But this proverb my dad spoke a long time ago when my family was experiencing its worst season rings through from time to time: ‘he who is being chased by a masquerade should persevere, because as he, the earthly man, tires so does the heavenly man’.
    1. fayte
      “though there are really bad fays, where it seems despite your PROMISE,life is leaving you behind and you are in a maze.”
      This,right here,sums it all up for me. But one thing is no matter how depressed I sleep,I wake up like its my first day and I know that’s God in action. Weeping may endure for the night, but Joy comes in the morning.
  19. Dickson
    I was just discussing with some one recently that in certain European countries; people would rather use bicycle than drive to work.
    The depth of ur pocket doesn’t give you any extra stake in our shared humanity.
    I feel ur pain bro. Sometimes; I wonder whether in Nigeria; following ur passion and being satisfied with life are mutually exclusive?
    I always nursed the ambition of being a journalist/writer. My neighbour who happened to be a columnist in one of the dailies told me the job doesn’t foot his bills. He had to get side hustles. what did that do to my dream? Your guess is as good as mine.
    We would be fine……
    Sometimes; when I am sad, I console myself with “all is vanity’. But really, oftentimes people are not vain, they just want to enjoy life a little.
  20. Tosal
    All I believe is time has it.
    Keep a positive mind,attitudes and friends.
    Rely not on your own understanding but God.
    Give your self a treat some day.
    Laugh at your struggle and speak to yourself pleasantries of dreams.
    Never ever give up..
    The race is not of the stift nor the battle of the might..
    God loves you un conditionally beyond your widest imagination.
    Love yourself and wear yourself well.
    If Obama could make it, sure u Can, pearl OluOlu.
    Peace out!
  21. VillageParrot
    Quite touching, but understandably, this is the reality that many Nigerian youths are left to face – and it is gruesome.

    If it is any comforting, I assure you that it gets better sometime and a break will be caught eventually. You just have to hang in there till you are able to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

  22. VillageParrot
    And as for being single, I do not believe you should beat yourself about what could have been that did not happen. It is in your history now and what you have ahead of you is a future which your decisions from this point forward will shape.

    You have to live within the realms of reality of the country you are in; one of such realities is that you have to put your life on track first, have a goal and work towards it and maybe the heavens will favor your heart and send you someone who believes in you. The more you stay rooted in the past, the more you remain stagnant. A relationship is not one of your most urgent concerns right now, but if the chance does come you may take it.

  23. fan
    First I wanted to say that this was a well-written article. I really like your style and would definitely become a reader if you started a blog or column.

    Loved this line “When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of survival?”

    1. OluOlu
      Thanks for reading and liking and being a fan. The link to my blog is in my bio, though my blog is quite different from this. Have you been able to give yourself a satisfactory answer to the question in the line you love?
  24. God expressed.
    ” We sacrifice our dreams, hopes and desires on the altar of survival. ”

    Brooo!! I felt this on a really deep level. You put my present reality into words.


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