Xenophobic Attacks: The Imperatives of Fixing  Nigeria


Ring true

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com07013940521

It was heart-wrenching watching some of the Nigerians evacuated from South Africa mourning the challenges they will face at home. They all grudgingly returned home for fear of losing their lives. Now, they are back to face all the negativities in their jaded country. One of them said he would miss the nonstop power supply in South Africa unlike in Nigeria where the citizens have been plunged into perpetual darkness by endless failed leadership. Many talked about our “jaga jaga” roads and shambolic public health/education systems. Several others bemoaned Nigeria’s ceaseless security crisis and the likelihood of being consumed by the same insecurity they ran away from in South Africa.

It is a big shame that after almost 59 years of independence, Nigeria is still battling to provide its citizens with things as basic as stable electricity, public water, quality public healthcare/education, security, quality roads and housing. This is why millions of devastated Nigerians troop abroad in search of better life. They even run to illogical places like war-torn Libya in their thousands because life in that country is better than it is in Nigeria. It is shocking that people in devastated Libya enjoy stable electricity and water supply, while Nigerians struggle for these basic things.

For me, quality governance ended in Nigeria in 1983 after our beastly military overthrew the Shagari government. The Shagari government was not good, but certainly not as hopeless as successive ones. Fraudulent and inept leaders subsequently enveloped mother Nigeria after the Shagari era. Our leaders at all levels have afterward been raping and looting this country. Now, Nigeria is in a comatose state. A state that can’t guarantee the security and welfare of its citizens; a state where only few homes have access to running water; a state where millions are jobless and hopeless; a state where close to 100 million live in extreme poverty; a state that is daily, pummeled by Boko Haram, ISWAP, and bandits; a state where soldiers have become ragdolls in the hands of terrorists; a state where scores of citizens are abducted daily. Cruel governors are also rampaging in their states

These leaders care less about our failed health and education systems because they and their children enjoy quality healthcare and education in Western countries. They care less about insecurity because they have cornered the bulk of our security agents for themselves and their families alone. They care less about hunger, poverty, disease and malnutrition in the country because we did not truly elect them. The last four years under the watch of the Buhari “change” government have been horrendous, with so much pain, blood, tears. Thousands of businesses and manufacturers are gasping for breath. Businesses are closing down in droves while millions of Nigerians have lost their jobs. Many are wallowing in insecurity, darkness, poverty, disease, hunger, unemployment and malnutrition.

Under Buhari, our beloved country became the poverty capital of the world. Nigeria has now surpassed India as the country with the largest number of people living in life-threatening poverty despite the fact that India’s population is almost four times that of Nigeria’s. Living in extreme poverty, going by the parameters set by the World Bank, means living on less than $1.90 per day, an amount that cannot guarantee even the token needs for existence. This is an insignia of disgrace that should task Buhari. Cosmetic interventions like Trader Money and School Feeding have turned this country into a global laughingstock. We have to look beyond these charades if we truly want to tackle poverty.

This present federal government has very little positive stories to tell in areas like the value of our currency, economy, electricity, local fuel refining, manufacturing, job creation and so on in all its over four years. This is why Nigerians are trooping abroad. The truth is that this administration squandered virtually all the gains of its predecessors. I often challenge cronies of this government to point to a single tangible achievement of the administration in critical sectors like road, security, education, health, road, economy, power and housing in the last 34 months. Even the President and his family members are flown abroad to enjoy foreign medicals.

What pains me the most is our unprecedented insecurity. We have never had it so bad. Nowhere is safe in this country. Everybody is living in fear. Nigeria is now one of the most dangerous places to live in the world. The case of Prof. Gideon Okedayo, a senior lecturer at the Ondo State University, who was abducted early this month and few days later murdered by his abductors, is the latest. Okedayo was abducted on Igara road in Akoko Edo area of Edo State while traveling to his hometown on September 5. 

Even in Abuja, the abode of Buhari, abductions are booming. These have left many living in fear in the FCT. The pathetic experience of Abuja-based Dr. Umar Ardo is still making headlines. His daughter, Aisha, was kidnapped in Abuja last Saturday and said he had to pay $15,000 for her release. “I find it hard to wrap my head around what is really going on. Abuja is not safe, we are all not safe. Everyone needs to be more careful and be on the alert at all times,” Ardo remarked. There was also the abduction of Baze University’s lecturer, Abubakar Alkali.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) was apt when it said the Buhari government’s lukewarm attitude, combined with slow/lack of prompt responses had prolonged the security crises. President of the conference and Archbishop of Benin City, Most Rev. Dr. Augustine Obiora Akubueze remarked: “Nigerians are tired of the rhetoric that government had technically defeated the terrorists. Nigerians do not want to have a debate on the meaning of the word, ‘defeated’. We are just interested in living our lives peacefully without any fear of being kidnapped for ransom or being driven from our homeland.

“Nigerians do not want to be faced with the daily tasks of looking for security persons to escort them to their farms. Nigerians do not want to be afraid when they go to the market to sell or buy; or when they go to Church or Mosque to pray. We are not asking the government for too much. We just want to live and care for our families. We want to be able to move freely in the country.

“Every government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens has failed. If the leaders of a country cannot ensure peace and security, they have no business using tax payers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of Nigerians are dying daily. Only recently we heard of the burning of Rev. Fr. David Tanko of Jalingo Diocese to death, and only recently we heard of the killing of a priest in Enugu Diocese.”

Moving forward, Buhari should stop deceiving himself that he is making progress with security, war against corruption and the economy. Our languid and hopeless governors should end their trickery and face the reality that our states are decrepit. Our dear country is in a big mess. Governments at all levels must create an enabling environment for jobs to happen for millions of jobless graduates. Unending security issues must be fixed, huge infrastructure deficit must be fixed, power supply crisis must be fixed; sagging economy and ineptitude in governance must be fixed. We must put in place a proactive social security system to take care of the weak and the jobless. Sadly, virtually all the guys running the shows at all levels of government in this country lack the capacity for these.

It is thus fitting to end this piece with prayers for Nigeria by Professor Catherine Eromosele, the chairperson of the CBCN concluded in Ogun State early this week: “God, please raise up for us God-fearing people and leaders who are for us and who will lead us in the path of peace, prosperity, and progress.” Many thanks, Professor Eromosele.    

Sanwo-Olu Should Hold SEC Meeting in Ikorodu West

This is a clarion call on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to take his entire cabinet to Ikorodu West for their next Executive Council Meeting. This will enable them experience the most backward LCDA in Nigeria and appreciate the extent of the calamity in this area. Perhaps, this would ginger this governor and his team to come up with a Marshal Plan for Ikorodu West. This LCDA is clearly the most backward in Nigeria. The entire area is worse than a war zone, with tattered roads, craters, and ramshackle public schools. There is no single public health institution in this LCDA. A first time visitor to this area will find it difficult believing that he is in Lagos State, the so-called Centre of Excellence.

At times, I wonder if Sanwo-Olu and his predecessors are aware that this area exists. But agents of the government, shockingly, come around to collect Land Use Charge. With over 500 documented roads in the LCDA, only four roads have asphalt. The main road into the LCDA (Agric-Isawo Road) is now one big river. The heartless, purposeless and Godless administration of Akinwunmi Ambode removed the asphalt and drains on this road, because they wanted to build a 6-lane new road. It never happened. Sanwo-Olu has already started on a depressing note, with unending failed promises to return contractors to the Agric-Isawo road. It seems he’s planning to end up like Ambode.

A drive through major streets in this LCDA like Efunlaruja, Eyita-Ojokoro and Ori-Okuta will leave a first time visitor disheartened. Many frustrated residents have, in the last three years, abandoned their properties and relocated.

This LCDA is yet to feel the impact of Sanwo-Olu, after almost four months. He needs to spend quality time in this LCDA in order to appreciate the anguish here and subsequently take steps to impact on the lives of the disheartened residents. He should come in through Isawo Road, link Efunlaruja Street through Ori-Okuta Road and come out through Ojokoro Road and he would understand the magnitude of the crisis.

Sanwo-Olu’s predecessors failed the people of Ikorodu West and Ikorodu North. I hope he would not do same.


Mendacious Senator Yahaya Abdullahi

Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi has been economical with the truth on the N5.5 billion budgeted for the purchase of official vehicles for lawmakers of the 9th Assembly. Yahaya, APC Kebbi North, wants traumatised Nigerians to believe that the lawmakers will pay for the vehicles at the end of their tenure. This is not true. Official vehicles are sold to the lawmakers at the end of their term at giveaway price. It is different from the car loans incorporated into their welcome package. This is the one to be refunded. Some of them will be collecting these official vehicles for the fourth or fifth time. The likes of Ahmad Lawan, Kabiru Gaya, Ali Ndume, Eyinnaya Abaribe, Ike Ekweremadu and James Manager fall into this category. They should be tired of SUVs by now.

Senator Abdullahi spent time on Wednesday in his office in Abuja insulting Nigerians for questioning his lust for SUVs amid suffering in Nigeria. For him, the public outcry over the N5.5 billion for the SUVs “is an insult to lawmakers.”  Abdullahi does not even understand why he is in the Senate. He is more interested in “status”. He thinks the lawmakers are in Abuja to parade SUVs and says it with so much pride. He said: “What is the problem there? It is an insult to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep. It is an insult. I was a permanent secretary. I know what ministers get; we cannot even compare ourselves to ministers because we are higher than ministers. For you to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot drive a jeep today; come on, that is an insult.”

Abdullahi did not tell Nigerians that he and his colleagues in the Senate have each collected N36 million welcome package in June, a N15 million car loan inclusive. Their colleagues in the House of Representatives each collected N28 million as welcome package. In addition to this windfall in June, each senator takes home N14.2 million monthly (running cost inclusive), while House of Representatives members take home N9.1 million each monthly. Yet, they are still angling for SUVs at a cost of about N40 million each. This cannot be happening in a country with over 100 million people living below poverty. It must not continue in a country where millions of people go to bed without meals and wake up not sure of breakfast. The crazy payments to our coldblooded lawmakers are unjust and callous.