By Abiodun Komolafe
Those who are familiar with the history of the Israelites will understand why their story in the wilderness will not be complete without a mention of how, at a stage, they had preferred being “slaves in Egypt” to being subjected to mass ignoble deaths “in the desert.” With the pathetic state of our country, it is unfortunate that such hopelessness and uncertain reality now define the lots of many Nigerians.
Sentiments apart, Muhammadu Buhari is a good man and Nigerians have to appreciate God for a man of his ilk as Nigeria’s president. He has done ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘and the other’, all in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. Forget the fact that the government, which he heads, is now sitting, comfortably, on a huge debt profile of not less than N24.4 trillion; and not a few Nigerians are concerned and palpably worried.
Despite her rich socio-cultural legacy, Nigeria is today an unfortunate product of strange, deep and challenging problems which raise lots of questions about how complicated we are as a people. The so-called government think tank seems to be missing the gem as the fulcrum of its policy pronouncements is not jelling with the expectations of the masses. Otherwise, there would have been a massive socioeconomic turnaround in many sectors of the domestic economy to the benefit of everybody who is a Nigerian, irrespective of his or her status in the society. To make matters worse, the ruling party continues to grapple with the challenge of identity definition while the opposition, either for lack of a credible alternative or non-possession of a financial war-chest to match the rampaging ferocity of its masters in the game, has willingly become prisoner to existing positions.
Starting with the Federal Government’s position on Agriculture and Rural Development, what has changed and what has been the effect? Year in, year out, it is a whole story of woes and catalogue of avoidable failures. This year, if it is not a fight over the procurement of fertilizer, it will be harvest of tirades in trying to expose the corruption in fertilizer distribution. Next year, it the farmers’ verification exercise and how to account for farmers who are deprived. The following year, the routine begins again: the procurement and the distribution of fertilizer. Whereas, all that has not addressed the alleged corruption in the system! The point is: if the government is claiming to have spent trillions of naira on “agriculture and infrastructure” in the last few years, why hasn’t the humongous sum reflected on the socio-economic reality of Nigerians? Isn’t it a shame that people are running from Osun State, which claims to be an agrarian population, to neighbouring Oyo State to buy yam tubers, despite the sophistry of the former’s agricultural policies? This is embarrassing, to say the least!
Talking seriously, what has become of government’s position on international trade and commerce? What’s happening, presently, to our domestic economy and home-market? These, again, lead us to some other questions! What type of a country is one that fails to realize that making money without working is a recipe for trouble for the national economy? What manner of work is it that makes a truck driver in the United Kingdom live a better life than a supposed big man in Nigeria? Who’s calculating the gains and the losses of the Buhari-led administration? The political oligarchs and power-drunk state officials, who, in spite of our being pathetically poor, still derive pleasure in mismanaging our poverty? Or the mere sand-players who only specialize in lying to Nigerians with unrivaled illogicality? For God’s sake, if government reforms are truly hitting their targets, why are Nigerians leaving home, hale and hearty, only to end up in the lagoon as victims of suicide?
In fairness to posterity, that Nigeria’s economy is threatened, with the country described variously as a “dumping ground for stronger economies in the world” is no longer news. When Charles Soludo came in, he introduced some policies to stem the leak in foreign exchange. But by the time Soludo would realize that ‘Banking” was “no Ludo’, the powerful-but-evil cabal, who benefits directly and thrive on foreign currency exchange in the country, had opposed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor. And, because government of the day didn’t have enough political spine, it capitulated by allowing the Bureau de Change to have its way; and gave it legal backing as Black Market.
Well, the effects of this public maladministration on associational life of the average Nigerians, political pragmatism and the issue of succession are better imagined than experienced. This is because people see politics only as a certificate to some luxuries and privileges and are desperate to be in government, not necessarily because they have a clue as to what to do or how to run a government, but because that is the only area where ‘survival-without-stress’, making big money and indiscriminate use of state power are assured. That is why people are no longer committed to party ideologies and manifestos.
If Joseph could suggest and successfully implement a policy that effectively addressed the “seven years of famine” in Egypt (Genesis 41 & 42), then, it is pure illusion to measure successes of policies in a bottomless pit. For a serious government, it does not speak to good judgment to encourage endless policies when the people do not feel the track of such plans and actions. It is merely a way of saying that government appears to be busy, doing nothing! As Ghana has now shown that you don’t solve a problem by creating another problem, the founding fathers of Nigeria’s political landscape will no doubt be rolling in theirgraves, seeing what Nigerians have made of politics.
All said, it’s time government woke up to its responsibilities by annexing the innate capacities that are bounded in the people’s differing sympathies. Otherwise, the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections might have signposted how fast 2023 can take us back to the past. There and then, welcome ‘Gunshot Democracy’! Interestingly, in a violent electoral process, it is the gun and the mastery of its use, not humans or the lobby for votes, that serves as the winning streak. But, in a very real sense, lives and times of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha have shown that that, too, has an expiry date!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria
You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lending A Voice To Persons With Disabilities (PWD’s) In The Face Of COVID-19
By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin
According to Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (‘DDA’), a person is perceived to be a disabled if:
a. ‘ They have a physical or mental impairment, and
b. the impairment has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.
The above definition covers:
- People with HIV, and cancer. People that have multiple sclerosis are also deemed as disabled as soon as they are diagnosed.
- Other progressive conditions, such as motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, and forms of dementia.
- A person who is certified as blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted by a consultant ophthalmologist is deemed to have a disability.
- Severe disfigurement is treated as a disability.
- A range of conditions are treated as a disability, as long as the other factors from the definition are met, in terms of having substantial and long-term impact on the ability to do normal day to day activities,
– Sensory impairments, such as those affecting sight or hearing.
– Auto-immune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE).
– Organ specific conditions, including respiratory conditions such as asthma, and cardiovascular diseases, including thrombosis, stroke and heart disease.
– Developmental conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Disability Report, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population, or at least 25 million people, have a disability with over 3.5million of them having difficult challenges of moving around. Many of them face a number of human rights abuses including stigma, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to healthcare, housing, and education.
In the face of the global threatening and dreadful Coronavirus pandemic, the community of disabled persons have been excommunicated and relegated to the background by the State and Federal Government in Nigeria.
An aggrieved citizen pointed out that it would have cost the government nothing to attach a sign language interpreter beside the President and State Governor’s while they addressed the citizens over the developments as regards COVID-19. As this would enable those who are deaf and dumb to understand the critical times we are in, and also make them have a strong sense of belonging and be informed about the need to be cautious during this period. It was gathered that all the adverts, gingles, announcement, etc about or on how to stay safe in this period are tailored wholly for the typical citizens. This to a large extent is not fair enough as this does not portray our country has been Disability sensitive.
Disabled persons in our societies are the most vulnerable and indigent. A Disability Ambassador in Lagos, Mrs Franca, expressed her pain of government neglect of PWD’s especially in such a critical time as this, “I want to say that my people have been excommunicated or boycotted from the Covid-19 safety and precautions awareness and even the Covid-19 stimulus package”.
‘Based on the above submission, I wish to remind us that the Disabled persons are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than pregnant women and the elderly’.
Mrs. Franca later updated that Lagos State Government, on Thursday 2nd April, 2020, gave 100 bags of COVID-19 relief packages to the disabled community in Lagos State. Though minute to the number of persons with disabilities in the state, the government promise more in the next batches. This is a laudable effort which can be improved on, I also implore other State Governments to imitate and exceed this.
Before the Stay at Home directives, People with Disabilities experience difficulty in fending for themselves and families, how much more now that they are asked to stay indoor without hope of where their next meal will surface from. Their plight this period of Lockdown can only be imagined than experienced.
I therefore call on all State Governments in Nigeria to ensure that this group of people receive the best possible care this period. In the various States, the welfare of PWD’s should top the list while urgent considerations should also be given to them in the process of distribution of Stimulus Packages as a means of alleviating their plight. Various NGO’s are not also left out in this utmost service to humanity at this crucial time.
Be a voice, be a helping hand, and a miracle to Person’s With Disabilities around you during this downtime, posterity will never forget your good deed.
Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.
A Postgraduate Student, University of Ibadan.
Between Coronavirus & Hunger-Virus
By Charles Ogbu
Any govt, whether at the federal, state or local level that is asking people to stay at home as a way of curbing the spread of Coronavirus WITHOUT providing relief materials such as food, water and most especially electricity for the same people is an irresponsible govt.
Praising the President, Governors or local govt Chairmen for the lockdown is the height of conscientious idiocy bordering on the fringes of lunacy. Declaring a lockdown doesn’t make one a leader. Even a complete imbecile can declare one. What makes a leader is the wisdom to know that when you force people who mostly exist on subsistence level to stay indoors and not go to work or go to the market, it is your job to provide for them for as long as the lockdown lasts.
Hunger is an existential threat to every living thing. More dangerous to our very existence than even a million and one Coronaviruses. And when you consider the fact that MOST Nigerian families cannot eat if they don’t go out every day, you’d begin to appreciate how moronic it is to declare a total lockdown without providing anything for the people you are forcing to stay at home.
If we want to do ‘copy and paste’, we should at least do it well. In other countries we are copying this lockdown from, citizens are provided with 24/7 electricity, running water, free money and they wake up in the morning to see food waiting for them at their doorstep. Here in Nigeria, the govt is only forcing people indoors with absolutely nothing.
No light, no water, no food, no money.
You want people to stay at home for two weeks which from every indication, is going to be extended. If they stay at home and starve to death, has the purpose of your so called lockdown not been defeated?
Meanwhile, when COVID-19 was very far away from here, Nigerians begged this irresponsible govt to close all our borders just like most countries did but the same govt which closed our land borders over foreign rice refused to do the same over a deadly pandemic. Now that their friends, families and fellow members of the political cult have imported and spread the virus all over the country, they now want the poor masses, most of whom do not have international passport not to talk of having traveled abroad to suffer for their criminal negligence. Nothing could be more wicked than this!
If there has ever been a time the people need to use every means to hold the political class to account, that time is now.
I had wanted to publish the phone numbers of all our National Assembly lawmakers for people to call and text, demanding they use the same means they used to share rice, beans and garri when they are begging for vote to also share the same food items now that the masses need it most. But the thing is, I don’t think we should focus only on National Assembly members and ignore their counterpart at the state level, the local govt chairmen and councilors, all of whom are even closer to the grassroots than the ‘Abuja boys’. Now the problem is, I don’t have the means to acquire the contacts of the aforementioned people. So I’m urging you all to individually source for the phone numbers of your own local govt Chairman, councilor, member representing you at the state house of Assembly, federal house of Reps as well as the Senate and OCCUPY THEIR PHONE with texts and calls, demanding they go beyond distributing cheap stuff such as hand gloves and facemasks and start distributing food to the same people in whose name they are receiving outrageous salaries and allowances.
This is the time to know who is a true leader and representative of his people. I see some politicians busy copying the same messages from W.H.O and pasting same on big signboards with their names attached to it after which they feel they’ve done something great for their people. That’s nonsense!
Make no mistake, this lockdown might last for MONTHS. I take no joy in telling you this and I will give anything to be proven wrong but to be honest, we are in for a long ride.
Ignore the donation some of the politicians are announcing. Some of the pledges won’t be redeemed and most of the redeemed ones will simply be looted. It is silly for a politician from a state with no functioning isolation centre, no equipped hospital and certainly no ventilator to be announcing a donation of 500 million naira or one billion naira to the FG to aid the fight against Coronavirus. Is the virus a native of the federal govt? If you are genuine, why not use that money to build or equip existing isolation centre as well as get protective gears for health workers in your state?
Hunger-virus poses more threat to Nigerians at this particular time of lockdown than Coronavirus.
Occupy The Politicians’ phone lines until they share food the same way they do when they are seeking our vote. This is not you begging for food. This is you demanding your rights because these politicians represent you. All the salaries and allowances they are collecting plus the siren and escorts they move about with is because of you. The legitimacy of the office they occupy flows from you. So they owe you. It is time to call in the debt!
A Salient Note To Nigerian Youths In Such A Time As This
By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin Oyewole
It is more of a fact than a statement that COVID-19 pandemic is a reality in Nigeria. With the daily rise in figure of confirmed cases in Nigeria, I find it necessary to pen down my thoughts for the reading of vibrants, agile, skillful, artistic, articulate, and promising Nigeria youths.
I wish to get the attention of those who make themselves ready tools of terror, destruction, vandalism, kidnapping, and manipulations to the political moguls during electioneering period. Who unashamedly sell their future and conscience for a piece of cake without a second thought.
Months ago, the Nigerian border was closed against importation of rice, the masses were forced to patronize the stone garnished local rice known as ‘Nigerian Rice’. Few months later came the COVID-19, we expected the Nigerian Government to take a proactive measure of banning foreign flights from entering the country as they vehemently stood against closure of border to imported rice but the reverse was the case. The time lag it took them to decide whether or not to stop foreign flights enabled their children and other notable elites who are outside the country to come in, hence they endangered and exposed others to the COVID-19 pandemic that has no case record in Nigeria. What a selfish motive!
An average Nigerian does not have access to quality health care service, while those who employ you for nefarious activities have the means to fly out of the country for quality medical check-up’s and treatments at the lightest feeling of illness.
COVID-19 exposed the stark debilitating reality of Nigerian hospitals, few hospitals have ventilators, while others don’t have at all. The few available ones could not cater for the rising number of infected person’s within the country.
The COVID-19 testing kits donated by the Chinese Philanthropist, Jack Ma, are being used for politicians and their families, while the masses are being left to their fates. What a country!
The Nigerian educational system, most especially, the Federal Universities, where an average Nigerian parents could manage to send their children is at the brink of collapsing, little or no attention is being taken by the government to salvage it from shattering into extinction. Sadly, Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) strike, has become a yearly anniversary for both students and lecturer’s in Nigeria as a result of unmet conditions between the ASUU and the Federal Government.
Students bear a large chunk of the brunt, as those who are meant to graduate within 4years end up wasting 2-3years extra. While the children of those who employ you as machinery for snatching ballot boxes have access to globalized quality education in well organized and developed Western countries. Hope I’m making sense?
A Nigerian Senator’s monthly running cost is #13.5million, including monthly salary of #750,000 while implementation of #30,000 minimum wage bacame an Herculean task.
Dear fellow Nigerian youths, how long shall we allow leaders who have no plans for us to continue to make us instrument of political thuggery and disruption at the detriment of our bright and promising future.
I raise a Clarion call for us to wake up from our slumbers. The future is ours, if only we are ready!
~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE
A Postgraduate student, University of Ibadan
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