The lifestyle audit is just another means to exploit Nigerians

Starting yesterday, Nigeria has made it legal to have a lifestyle audit for its citizens. Who needs a lifestyle audit? Anyone whose lifestyle appears to exceed their income or their means. It is an investigation carried out to see if someone’s income aligns with their spending habits. This is the simplest definition there is, away from the legal clutter. Lauretta Onochie, a social media aide to President Buhari, announced this via a tweet to the chagrin of Nigerians.

In her own words, anyone can be called upon under the suspicion that their wealth/lifestyle is ill-gotten, to be investigated by anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.

Rightfully so, Nigerians have a right to be angry with policies like this, which is anti-masses and anti-working class at best. In a country steeped in poverty, poor standard of living and dearth of social services, Nigerians have had to rely on themselves to get by. Even providing jobs for themselves, and sometimes this means having multiple streams of income.

Owning an automobile, generator, an iPhone aren’t luxury items in the context of Nigeria these days, but accessories for survival. But these properties have since been deemed as a marker of wealth, especially by the Nigerian police who are notoriously known to harass, extort and brualise Nigerians.

With the lifestyle audit, security and anti-corruption agencies have been given legal ammunition to go after anyone who they are suspicious about, and this will be disproportionately ordinary Nigerians. Not that fraudulent Nigerians won’t be caught, but in a climate where average citizens are powerless to ward off arbitrary intrusions from the police, then it becomes a recipe for disaster.

Already, the lifestyle audit won’t apply to politicians and their children, especially when they acquire luxurious properties. Nothing more would please Nigerians than seeing them audited first.

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