Last week, I moaned about a country with squandered riches and opportunities. At 60, Nigeria still literally crawls on her knees. She wobbles, dawdles, fumbles, tumbles, almost crumbles. So, I am not happy. I am sad. I am not celebrating at all. Let us do self-introspection. Let us undertake to do better. Now, read on.
Nigeria, talking about acute poverty and abject penury (as we saw last week), has since snatched that smelly diadem from India, as the poverty capital of the world. I am sad that Nigeria, once a very safe country, where citizens could drive out, or walk leisurely in orchards, bush paths, dark alleys, forests and highways, is today so unsafe that hapless and hopeless citizens are mindlessly waylaid, kidnapped, robbed, raped, murdered and burnt along high ways, footpaths and even in their very homes and farms. I am very sad that Nigerians (happily before now), were once united in religion, ethnicity, marriage, sports, hope, aspirations, and common goals and objectives. This was because of the lyrical rendition of the old National Anthem that, “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”. I am sad that today, however, Nigeria is pathetically and haemorrhagingly polarised, divided, disunited and dislocated, along primordial fault-lines.
I am very sad that the Nigeria of today literally drips with deep mutual suspicion, aggression, hatred, animosity, antagonism, vitriol, repulsion, cronyism, nepotism, ethnocentrisms, tribalism and sectionalism. I am quite sad that Nigeria is now ravaged by provincialism, protectionism, clanishness, cliquism, regionalism, favouritism, prebendalism and neo-patrimonialism. I am indeed, sad, that mutual distrust and mistrust now reign supreme. I am sad that our children are still struggling to obtain, literally through agonising “trial by-ordeal”, a mere first degree, at ages 26-32; whereas the same Nigeria had, once-upon-a-time, in the 1950s and 1960s, produced Ministers, Military Governors and Heads of State at the same 26-32 age bracket. I am sad that there are no jobs for the teeming millions of Nigerian youths, who eventually struggle to graduate from our beleaguered tertiary institutions. They never find gainful employment; whereas in the 1950s and 1960s, local and multinational companies waited long hours ay the gates of universities on graduands’ last days at the University, to recruit them immediately. Such graduates were automatically given cars, houses, and placed on handsome living wages and mouth-watering perquisites of office. I am deeply sad that most of the well-known multinationals that once dotted the industrial and business landscapes of Nigeria, have either died, or folded up completely; or have since been downgraded; or have since relocated to small nearby neighbouring countries. Some of them however, exist only as mere museum relics and antiquities in the form of administrative office carcasses. Some of these olden days companies include UAC, Leventis, Kingsway, UTC, Standard Bank, Barclays Bank, Lever Brothers (Unilever), PZ, John Holt, CFAO, Dunlop, Michelin, Volkswagen, Peugeot Automobile, Cadbury, NTC, May and Baker, RT Briscoe. There were Airlines like Okada, Flash, Sosoliso, Triax, Nigeria Airways, ADC, Chanchangi, IRS, Afrijet, Albarka, Bellview, Capital, Dasab, Slok, EAS, Harco, Harka Oriental, Hamza Air, Wings Aviation, Spaceworld, Chrome, New Nation, etc, etc. I am sad that no one can today show me the once famous Ajaokuta Steel Mills, the Itakpe Iron Ore, Delta Steel Company, Oshogbo, Jos and Katsina Rolling Mills; the famous Northern Nigeria Kano Groundnut Pyramids, Cotton, Hides and Skins; the Western Nigeria Cocoa; the Eastern Nigeria Palm Oil Produce; the Midwestern Nigeria Rubber and Timber produce, Okpella Cement Factory, Ughelli Glass Industries, etc, etc.
I am indeed, very sad that our leaders who were in power in the 1950s and 1960s (some, over 70 years ago), are still today ingloriously clinging to power, either directly, or indirectly, through their proxies, acolytes, minions, school mates, or village kindred, kinsmen and kinswomen. So, I am a sad Nigerian. I am greatly saddened that in the 1980s, even the Naira was exchanging for one Naira to two dollars; that we did not require visa to travel; and that my first journey to London cost me less than N350 only. I was respected, as a very young Lawyer, at Heathrow Airport, and treated with kind courtesies.
We have frittered away rare countless opportunities, mismanaged our economy, abused and thoroughly misused our natural, human and material resources. We have since birthed, nurtured and enthroned a dangerous regime of impunity, government’s wanton breach of citizens’ fundamental rights, reckless disregard to court orders, and brazen desecration of the rule of law. We have glamouralised moral decadence, primitive acquisition and a rentier economy. We have encouraged mediocrity, nurtured ‘yahoo boys’, festered youth brigandage and criminality, and promoted female prostitution and girl-child labour and marriage. I am very sad. I am too sad that we still practice what late Professor Claude Ake and other eminent Economists, refer to as a “disarticulate economy”, an economy where we produce what we do not consume (crude oil) and consume what we do not produce (fuel and gas).
We have bred mass unemployment, untrammelled corruption, intellectual dishonesty, academic squalor, social disequilibrium, political brinkmanship, executive lawlessness, legislative rascality, judicial injustice and electoral brigandage. In the Nigeria of today, the votes are neither counted nor allowed to count. I am very sad because there is no transparency, accountability and responsibility in government or governance. I am utterly depressed and sad that the proverbial common man and woman continue to wallow in ignorance, dejection, melancholy and hopelessness. I am very sad that we practice religion vociferously, but without being religious or Godly. I am very sad that the hoi polloi continues to be repressed, oppressed, suppressed, marginalised, subjugated, denied, traumatised, ignored, rejected and dejected. The Frantz, Fanons “Wretched of the Earth” still wallow in searing pains, pangs, blood and sorrow.
I am indeed a very SAD NIGERIAN. NIGERIA WE HAIL THEE. GOD BLESS NIGERIA. AMEN.
PMB’S Lame 60TH Independence Anniversary Broadcast
The broadcast was lame, defensive, lacklustre, uninspiring and devoid of Presidential gravitas.
It convinces us more that the President is out of tune with the stark reality of a 208 million people he governs, when compared with some neighbouring countries.
I disagree with Mr President. Do many of them produce oil? Are we not the 7th oil producer in the world? Is Buhari aware that most of our industries have relocated to, and found solace in these countries? Those economies he compared us with are better, more buoyant, less peopled and more focused and productive than Nigeria. They do not glamourise and celebrate corruption as a national fundamental objective and directive principle of State policy, as we do.
I recalled how President Muhammadu Buhari demonised former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government over a minimal increase in fuel price, but he increased fuel price with reckless abandon.
It is also about credibility, integrity, honour and dignity. Did Buhari not join other Nigerians, including the major players in his government, in January, 2012, to castigate and demonstrate on the streets against Jonathan’s minimal increase, arguing that it was corruption-laden and amounted to thievery?
What has changed? Have the oil cartels he glowingly talked about vanished? Has his government not used more than three times the sum used by three successive governments, for importation of fuel? “Has he built a single refinery? Are the ones he met, no matter how minimally functional, still working at all today?
I beg, give me a break from the cluelessness, propaganda and anti-people policies of this opaque government.
THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK
“There are no good and bad peoples; there are only leaderships that behave responsibly or insanely”. (Yossi Sarid)
“Let me define a leader. He must have vision and passion and not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity.” (A. P. J. Abdul Kalam)
“The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril.” (Xenophon)