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Government, life and living blues in Nigeria

By Matthew Ozah
17 October 2018   |   3:40 am
The fact that one is born a Nigerian is very interesting and marvellous because Nigeria is one of the freest countries in the world.

[FILE] Benin City, Edo State. PHOTO:

The fact that one is born a Nigerian is very interesting and marvellous because Nigeria is one of the freest countries in the world.

Indeed, it is amazing and pleasant in many ways to be a Nigerian. First, Nigerians do not slacken to enjoy and be joyous with themselves irrespective of the harsh predicament they confront daily. Perhaps, that is the reason behind Nigerians being classified as part the happiest people on planet earth. However, at the back of an average Nigerian’s mind, is the fact that life is really tough and it is likened to a havoc storm, which throws one up and down or sways one around the problem one tries to solve. The masses usually take solace in God as they flock churches seeking interventions through miracles. To garner strength and continue with the life of struggle, they open their heart in trust and believe in the God of all grace who always answers prayers. No matter the trials and tribulations, success is a Nigerian, so long as there is life.

If one may ask, what do Nigerians want ultimately? It would be a mistake to attribute too much because with little or nothing a Nigerian can survive. Nevertheless, simple basic human necessities are enough to keep Nigerians comfortable just like citizens of the developed nations. Did I hear you wish that for Nigerians under this present government? Far be it. Such amenities remain a fairy tale as successive governments continue to see themselves playing four dimensional chess to not only suffer, but divide and conquer their own people. In that regard, no one will bother to question government’s ineptitude and its corrupt practices. Despite the anguish Nigerians are going through, some government apologists think the reality of life and living in Nigeria is less dramatic than the lamentations from several quarters across the country. They claim that opportunities abound and only lazy Nigerians complain about suffering and not having anything to engage themselves with.

Both past and present governments in Nigeria, as in all things, its officials are the distilled essence of self-interest. Therefore, political leaders use government apparatus as a means to an end. They care less about majority of the people who live in abject poverty. Nigerians do not just know hard times they feast on poverty because government is non-chalant. Recently, the World Bank decries the poor attention given to health and education two major sectors any serious government ought not to joke with because a healthy and enlightened nation is a prosperous country. According to the World Bank, “…young people are unlikely to achieve their full potentials because of chronic malnutrition and illness that result in stunning which permanently affects a child’s cognitive development, school performance and future income.” Touch at a Nigerian belly, especially university undergraduates, you find it very soft, twisted and flat like that of an agama lizard. This is as a result of him or her testing how far they can push (hunger) the one square meal a day further.

One of Nigeria’s major challenges is that, its people and institutions are among the most mismanaged in the world. A recent alarm raised by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi that Nigeria may soon become world’s poverty capital arose from a report anchored by Bill Gates at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that: “If every country continues its present trajectory, by 2050, 80 per cent of all the poor people in the world will live on African continent”. Do not raise an eye brow yet, because the frightening fact in the report is that half of that 80 per cent will be in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo.

As a government, with such information what comes next? Many political analysts think nothing less than a total re-evaluation of how political leaders are going to deceive the people the more. It is both disappointing and worrying that government makes too little too late effort in an attempt to improve the low standard of living in the country. Almost all governments, past and present, lack the ability to save the oil wealth fund so as to impoverish Nigerians the more. After squandering, the only option left is to hunt for aids, or borrow from IMF and World Bank or from developed “shylock” nations like China currently playing “Father Christmas” by giving a hand full and taking a lorry load from African countries. In no small measures, such lending will hold the country back in all ramifications. Also the future generation’s economic progress may be jeopardised. Having fluffed its chances and neglected the inward look to fend for itself, the current government has chosen to be good at rhetoric instead of being realistic to its programmes. However, Buhari should not be judged by how well he fought corruption because corrupt people flock his government but by whether he served the public well as a whole.

Now that all the political parties have produced their flag bearers, the battle seems between Buhari and Atiku alone. Especially as the “Abeokuta oracles” have spoken and concluded the traditional ritual of anointing yet another seeker of the highest office in the nation. In this regard, Nigerians face an extraordinary and painful choice. If the options were not jarring enough, it is not even clear that the electorate will decide who, in the end, is preferable. Nigerian democracy is not always democratic when it comes to general elections period. In most cases, the vote does not count, therefore, the people may not decide. And the complex rules of the election’s umpire usually suggest that the choice of the ultimate winner hinges on a decision far more mysterious than who is seen in the eyes of the people as possible winner. Therefore, INEC should know that a good judge, like a good umpire cannot act as a partisan. For example, if you are playing the Yankees, you don’t want the umpire to show up wearing pinstripes.

What really makes a Nigerian life or any life at all, a telling tale is the story behind them. And if you hide the story or pretend that such does not exist, like government officials usually do in Nigeria, then, the people are greatly being done disservice. It is not an understatement to say that the atmosphere is always fraught on the side of the people to be carried along. But, surprisingly, little or nothing is known about government’s intensions as they always act in clandestine and cultish manner. It therefore, shows that there are no adequate measures put in place by government to soothe the sufferings of the people. But, they do not lack the ability to sugar-coat things that affect them directly. For government to succeed, it needs to be less defensive rather it should be more proactive so as to improve the people’s welfare. It is absolutely unrealistic and not right that government should silence itself or put on a cloak of skepticism when the issue concerns the benefit of the masses.