Monday, December 15, 2008
NIGERIA, THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IS VERY BLEAK!
The Nigeria newspaper, Leadership, on December 15th, 2008, wrote a comment on the state of affairs in Nigeria titled "FRONT PAGE COMMENT: State Of The Nation". Icheoku finds the commentary very interesting hence our editorial decision to republish same here for you, our world-wide audience; it pointedly, zeroed down on what ground-zero really looks like in present day Nigeria. Happy reading! "The state of the Nigerian nation is not good. Not even Thomas Hobbes' state of nature – "laborious, nasty, brutish and short" – is enough to describe life in Nigeria these days. The cause is known but the solution, though appearing simple, has surprisingly become far-fetched, thanks to the conspiracy of a small elite class. It has been said that no one has the right to govern a people without their consent. But in Nigeria, even that has been upturned. All the institutions of government appear to have failed and the generality of Nigerians no longer have confidence in the ability of the Nigerian state to protect them anymore. The steady bloodletting of innocent people in the Niger Delta, the recent avoidable mayhem that claimed hundreds of lives in Jos a fortnight ago, and the devastation of families by armed robbers every minute of the day are only a few examples of the inchoate failure of the Nigerian state.
The state of the nation today confirms that President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is not the leader to lead us out of the doldrums. Across the nation, there are crises of frightening proportions. There is no electric power anymore: mosquitoes, heat and armed robbers have made nights dreadful for most of the urban poor. Small businesses are dying because there is no power supply. Despite the enormous funds called "security votes", which are regularly shared by local, state and federal governments, there is no security of life and property. The education system has collapsed. Federal budgets are not being implemented and jobs are almost nonexistent, even as schools continue to churn out millions of uneducated school leavers and graduates each year. Cities, including the Federal Capital Territory, lack clean water. The health of many a Nigerian is constantly imperilled by lack of potable water and fake drugs. Health institutions have moved from being "mere consulting clinics" to glorified mortuaries. Bad roads are causing accidents and killing travelers on a daily basis. And while every country in the world is fashioning out a bail-out plan for their individual economies, our president does not seem to be aware of what is happening around the world. The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has collapsed and it has stayed collapsed because of a non-challant leadership.
The man who promised, more than 18 months ago, to be a "servant-leader" is neither serving nor leading. It is taking him and the nation so long to appoint ministers. Few persons understand the current administration's "seven-point agenda", the policy thrust that has consumed billions of naira in media advertisements but little in actual implementation. Yar'Adua's campaign promise to declare an emergency in the power sector is yet to be fulfilled. At present, the entire nation of about 150 million people consumes less than 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Yet, to get out of the power mess and get businesses moving, Nigeria requires upwards of 100,000 megawatts. Because the refineries are not working, 100% of the country's fuel needs is imported. Any wonder that Nigeria is rich while Nigerians are poor? Oil has served no useful purpose, except that it has fed the few who are benefiting from corruption. For too long, corruption in high places has been allowed to ruin the nation. Democracy has finally been buried by the collective conspiracy of a number of crooked persons in the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. See how certain judgements emanating from the courts have foreclosed any hope that elections held on the Nigerian soil will ever be free, fair or credible again. To defeat election riggers in court, a petitioner would need to assemble all the voters in his constituency and name them one by one in order to prove his case beyond reasonable doubts. The alternative is to assemble a private army intimidating enough to force INEC and the government not to tamper with actual election results.
To become prosperous here, one no longer has to work hard even if he has a job. It's either he knows someone who can help him "win" an election or belongs to a criminal gang. Like everyone else, therefore, the generation born during and after Nigeria's independence in 1960, whose future is being ruined by entrenched political corruption, are no longer at ease. Pushed to the wall on all fronts, they seek survival by taking to crime. Where are Nigeria's leaders? Where are the guardian angels of the nation? Have they given up? All we need to do to know how severe the nation's situation has become is compare Nigeria with countries like Ghana. Yes, we need to be scared for the future of our nation and all those we are going to leave behind. Little wonder that several Nigerians who can afford it are already thinking of alternative countries.
As 2008 comes to a close, there is no better time to soberly reflect on the state of our nation. Nigeria is not working. The world has already left us behind. Opportunities have been lost and the price of crude, the nation's mainstay is likely to further plummet. We cannot afford to continue in this mess, living like a nation without leaders. People of character and goodwill must congregate and regroup to beat a new path for the only country we have. 2009 must be different".