I want to be optimistic about Nigeria, but it is just so hard to do so. It takes time to develop chemistry with Nigeria even with her hypereducated population due to several ruinous factors embedded in the system. I love my country but hate her government and one of the few reasons why I love my country is the overflowing steam of limitless possibilities. Sadly, Nigeria may have been crafted to fulfil some Bible injunctions because as it stands now, insecurity has driven the knife into our hearts and has reached a pandemic level. What purpose does it serve to insist that snow is black whereas the contrary is the case? I am losing hope by the second because Nigeria will not be better anytime soon.
And so, what has your country done for you? Nothing, except murderous hold to power which is all about tomfoolery and brazen treachery. The government’s focus is to dehumanise and shorten life instead of embarking on programmes that will elevate human worth. Nigeria under such a leadership is at the pointed end of the sword and progress if any, moves with the speed of a snail. All they do is to help and take care of themselves and their minions. The Kano State House of Assembly recently passed a life pension bill for its Speaker and deputy leaving out the suffering retired servants that form the engine room of the civil service.
People build hospitals, schools and airports through self-help. So, what does government do then? Individuals build their own houses and pay for power by going solar or buying generators, drill boreholes instead of waiting for piped water, engage private security guards instead of relying on the police. They pay to construct roads, pay for national passports and ID cards, construct police stations and in turn are asked to pay N25,000 to get police clearance. Private individuals, not the government, employ most people these days. Electricity companies’ offices countrywide buy generators for their operations. In 1882, the US got her power supply and in 1896 Ijora in Nigeria got hers. Do the mathematics and see how Nigeria is lagging when in fact she got power plant almost the same decade with the US. Startimes cable service relies on DSTV operated by South Africa to view programmes while generators in police stations are chained due to thieves. Everyone suffers when the state abdicates her duties. How can we get our life back?
A country where the President has labelled youths as lazy, instead of projecting them to the world. We have stifled and consigned them to the dustbin and the youths out of resignation have created roles for themselves and we are dearly paying for it. With their backs to the wall, hungry and guns pointed at their temple, livid and resentful youths have mushroomed into regional outlaws in the form of herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram terrorists. The society is now writhing in self-inflicted pain like a patient down with cerebral palsy. As a result, the socially devalued and flat-footed youths are now flourishing CEOs in the crime industry such as Yahoo Yahoo, robberies and kidnapping. The society has been further stratified and the haves and have-nots have been further polarised by way of a staggering inequality. The blood-curdling sights of broad daylight butchery amidst pandemic poverty level are what you get.
Sharia law has been in existence in 12 northern states but has only caught common criminals and petty thieves. Not even a conviction has been secured against the untouchable politicians who daily fleece the people and this is typical trajectory of the wicked lifestyle of Nigerian leadership. Nigeria is almost 200 million and has the highest number of mental cases in Africa according to WHO. The Federal Ministry of Health says Nigeria has one of the lowest number of psychiatrists, 250, in the world and this means that 250 will attend to the army of mental cases in Nigeria, about 60 million! The President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, Dr. Taiwo Sheikh, has stated that three out of every five Nigerian psychiatrists left the country after their education for greener pastures.
In 2017, the World Health Organisation said 7,079,815 Nigerians suffered from one of the most ignored and misunderstood forms of mental disorder in the country — depression. The stress level in Nigeria is so much that 14.4 million people rely on hard drugs as an escape route to their problems, according to the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime Control represented by Mrs. Foluso Ajayi. Is this not an epidemic? The WHO recommended ratio of one doctor to people is 1-1,000 patients and yet the Nigerian ministers of Health and Labour are benign about the emigration of physicians. The country keeps bleeding with her arteries and veins cut off from her system. Is there any hope of survival of a patient that lacks these two vital items? As they say one day, the lessons not learnt at home would be forced in from outside. According to Senator Shehu Sani, more people died in Nigeria than countries that are at war.
What was stolen by pen pushing is being recovered by kidnappers using AK-47. Someday, the poor will boil the rich for dinner as that has started along the Kaduna–Abuja road and in Zamfara, the Almajiri of yesterday have turned to today’s regional bandits. Corruption and bad governance pound the people like a nuclear war as everyone is just a victim. Poverty is a national epidemic like a wheel ploughing the rivers and gorges. Nothing of substance is being done at all even if in the short term. Not even slowly! People seem just as confused. A nation longs in doubt.
Nigeria is like a video song. You do not need to understand the lyrics because the footage is as straight as ruler. Like a terminal patient running low on oxygen or smokers who decided to die young, we are waiting for the next meal. The bourgeoning national criminal network of heatless herdsmen holds sway even as the youths have positioned themselves for imminent guillotine. The society is the sore loser. That hungry tiger you saved sometimes is back to stomp you.
The President is neither on leave nor on his beat, but he is missing in action. A truly absentee President both in content and context. Does power really belong to the people? This type of despondent situation is what Prof. Patrick Utomi, political economist and co-founder of Lagos Business School, has dubbed ‘Internally Generated Poverty’. Forbes Magazine has labelled Nigeria apart from being Africa’s fastest money-losing machine, the country has surpassed India as the poverty capital of the world. Do we truly deserve this label?
THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER