Many Nigerians began the year 2022 with so much hope, at least the feeling that a new government will be sworn in next year, brought so much consolation in the face of the predicaments they feel the present government is not doing enough to ameliorate. Nigerians had hoped that the present government would do everything within its power to right the wrongs in terms of its seeming maladministration and lack of leadership and strategic direction responsible for the comatose state Nigeria has been wallowing in since its inception, to at least, in this remaining year, pretend to deliver on its promises to Nigerians in 2014, in order to haul in votes for the party in the coming elections. However, the recent events that have defined our common existence speak so much of misery, pain, hardship and extreme poverty. One would wonder if the party on whose auspices this government is hinged, would have the capacity to win the next election.
Yes, the world is dealing with a global crisis- global deprivation- brought about by the pandemic and Putin’s war. It, however, seems Nigeria is the headquarters of this global deprivation. Nothing seems to be available in Nigeria at the moment. The present circumstances in Nigeria are tough – there is no power, fuel, diesel, and no school! Our hospitals cannot treat the President, ruling class or the big people in Nigeria. More importantly, the lingering fuel scarcity with its multi-dimensional effects, has heightened the degree of austerity and frustration in Nigeria in recent time. Nowadays the anguish of the common man cannot be overemphasized; the average Nigerian is battered by the waves of Nigeria’s current economic existential realities. The percentage of those Nigerians who fall into this group is huge. According to Tony Elumelu about 90% of Nigeria’s population are suffering the ineptitude and focus-less leadership characteristic of the Nigerian state.
The current energy crisis in the country has forced many SMES to fold up because they cannot afford to buy a litre of fuel or diesel between N500 to N 800 as pump prices to power their generating sets. Even those who are willing to take the risk of buying fuel and diesel at such exorbitant prices most times do not get these products to buy. So, many have folded up and at best offer services they can without electricity. Electricity in Nigeria is not dependable. Nigerians are accustomed to blackouts which happen every day. The national power grid cannot produce sufficient megawatts for the humongous consumers of power in the country. Power plants are not been maintained and new ones are not been built. Most recently, it was reported to have shut down twice in 24 hours. This caused total blackout and increased tension in most parts of the country. For some people, the degree of Nigeria’s rot and filthiness is accessed by the fact that for many decades Nigeria still does not have stable power supply. Nigerians provide energy sources by themselves. Nigeria is a rich country blessed with human and natural resources yet Nigerians are known for privation. It is indeed ludicrous.
The continuing ASUU strike is another form of deprivation public university students go through regularly in Nigeria. Nigeria’s educational system could be best described as half- baked, unplanned and neglected, especially the public institutions of learning. Regular strike actions have wreaked havoc on the school curriculum of Nigeria so much so that if one is calculating the duration of a particular course of study, a period of one or two years would be added to take care of ‘ASUU strike’. This present government has shown blatant lack of interest and will in making functional, the public university system. The arrogance displayed by the Minister of Education during a meeting with some members of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, recently in a video clip making the rounds on the internet, buttresses the fact the Buhari led government does not mean well for students and the education sector. Alas, the President himself has severally berated university studies, saying that it is not a license for employment. However, contrarily, the president and other political elites send their children in droves to universities abroad for studies. They use tax payers’ money to fund the education of their children in the most expensive universities in the UK and the US.
In the midst of these tough times, the President travelled to London for his medical checkup while the wife was in Dubai for undisclosed reasons. It is not good news to always hear that the President is away in London for medical tourism where there is a presidential hospital at the Aso Rock with yearly budget allocated to its running. The Nigerian health sector probably would be one of the worst in the world. Government medical personnel are poorly remunerated; medical facilities are left to decay without regular maintenance, whereas politicians go on medical tourism to develop health sectors of oversea countries. Today the best brains in medicine are fleeing for their lives and future to climes where they are valued.
Everyone in Nigeria today wants to ‘japa.’ Nigerians are now obsessed with the idea and desire to travel abroad. Of course, what would you expect from the ordinary people when they see the ruling class loot money budgeted to develop the various sectors of their economy, and these monies are stashed in foreign accounts outside Nigeria while families of these government officials live in oversea countries with dual citizenships, come back home and flaunt their wealth and accent? Going abroad today for so many Nigerians seems to be the only option to live their dream and to level up with the politicians who exploit them. One would be correct to say Nigerians have a penchant for travelling abroad for all kinds of reasons. Though travelling is a good leisure for those who travel for tourism; and for those looking for greener pasture, immigration is ubiquitous, it is as old as mankind. But there is something negative about Nigerians new found solution to their misery- lack of patriotism.
Nigerians prefer anything outside Nigeria to anything from or within Nigeria. The level of disloyalty in Nigeria is so high that many would trade Nigeria for nothing. This has been the attitude of Nigerian leaders since after independence. That is partly why after many decades of independence, most parts of Nigeria still look like ghetto. In fact, the British left for us, a better Nigeria that was prosperous, civil, serene and planned. The resources that should have been used to develop the country are siphoned into private pockets. Nations who have been patriotic enough to develop every key sector of their country’s economy like the UAE, Singapore, et cetera, are now ‘Disney islands’ for Nigerian politicians and ‘Oligarchs.’
To succinctly put it, things are bad in Nigeria! Nigeria is in dire need of a political messiah, to rescue her from the pitfalls she has sunk into. Nigeria is at the verge of conducting another general election. The poor masses should gird their groins that make them susceptible to the ‘men in agbada’ and be prepared to take their destinies in their own hands. Every election affords citizens the opportunity to make choices that would either make or mar them. ‘’Elections enable voters to select leaders and to hold them accountable for their performance in office’’. Nigeria’s political leaders have consistently shown that once elected they cannot be held accountable. They have shown that accountability can be undermined because they would bulldoze their way back for re-election. The 2023 election should not be as usual. Beginning from the grassroots, the electorate should determine who gets nominated at the primary elections. Political parties should be made to ensure they do not foist on Nigerians candidates with the ‘Bullions’, except such candidates have what it takes to turn things around in Nigeria.
A lot of Nigerian politicians who have been responsible for the systemic decay and rot in Nigeria have begun throwing their hats in the ring for the most important office in the country. We all have a horse in the race in this coming election. It is not going to be a run-of-the-mill election. The youth, who have a lot at stake must not conduct business as usual. There should be no room for apathy. Young people in all the political parties, particularly the two main parties, should not join the cankerworms and bandwagons of corrupt and self-centered forebears. The Nigerian youth must resist the temptation to be bought over to sabotage transparent election.
Election is a game of numbers and in Nigeria, young people account for the greatest numbers of those who vote. They must ensure that competent leaders are elected this time around. Bad leadership has been the bane of Nigeria’s inability to develop. Nigeria as a country lacks leadership and strategic thinking. Nigeria is blessed with human and natural resources but cannot harness these gifts to produce a great nation. This is externalized by the near lawless and weak institutions in the country. The military is almost derided perhaps because of the onslaught terrorists have meted on it; the police is shrouded in corruption; financial institutions are not coordinated, to the extent that in a country you have divergent exchange rate plan; the judiciary is controlled, disrespected and starved.
This is why the problems we are passing through today in Nigeria- endless insecurity, extreme poverty and hunger, fuel scarcity, paucity of power, inflation, internet fraud, armed robbery, ritual killings, et cetera- would to be hallmark of the Nigerian state if drastic actions are not taken to rescue Nigeria from the path she is headed. 2023 election is another opportunity given to us that affords us the golden privilege to be handed a blank cheque. What we shall write on it would very well determine the peace, safety and prosperity of our nation. All hands must be on deck, especially young technocrats and politicians, to ensure we have faith in this opportunity of an election. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘’with this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation…’’ To ‘japa’ is not the solution to the precarious circumstances that have defined our common existence as Nigerians. We must be prepared to exercise our franchise and hold INEC accountable to conduct free and fair elections, come 2023.
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