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Nigeria in a fix, let’s fix it

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
05 December 2022   |   3:40 am
Things are truly not looking good all around us in Nigeria and the signals are as bright as the sun with facts showing how tragic things have degenerated to and are piercing through the conscience of Nigerians like the sword of Damocles.

Nigerians youths

Things are truly not looking good all around us in Nigeria and the signals are as bright as the sun with facts showing how tragic things have degenerated to and are piercing through the conscience of Nigerians like the sword of Damocles.

Things have fallen Apart in Nigeria, as prophetically affirmed by the legendary writer, Professor Chinua Achebe, who wrote the iconic novel, Things Fall Apart.

I sat in a corner of a coffee shop somewhere in Garki II, Abuja, and spent over 30 minutes waiting for the waitress to serve my hot cup of Cappuccino coffee, in deep thinking about a lot of things.

One of those thoughts that flashed through my contemplative mind was how so fast Nigeria has become or is about imploding as a failed State. This reminds me of another book of Chinua No Longer At Ease.

The truth is that things, as it were, are no longer at ease in our contemporary Nigeria.

No Longer At Ease, is a 1960 novel about an Igbo man named Okonkwo, who left his village for an education in Great Britain and then a job in the Nigerian colonial civil service, but is conflicted between his African culture and Western lifestyle and ends up collecting a bribe. Our own present day existential situation is no longer at ease on multidimensional ways.

Even by the admission of public officers at the National Bureau of Statistics, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the thinking is that inflationary trends just like the widespread absolute poverty have ballooned out of control.

Aside from the new figure of 130 million multi-dimensionally poor Nigerians as I write, there is a much more sinister signal that shows how badly Nigeria has been entrapped in the chains of poverty, insecurity and all other impurities that result from a collapse of governance. Most ordinary Nigerians are everywhere in chains.

To bring the above affirmation closer to reality, we need to analytically look at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar in which Nigeria, reputed to be a giant footballing nation, could not qualify due to administrative bottlenecks and corruption.

The most annoying aspect of this absence of the Nigerian team at that World Cup is the fact that some other nations participating in the tournament are represented by reputable professional footballers with Nigerian roots.

Jamal Musiala Karim Adeyemi is the 19 year old who represented both Germany and England at youth level, and eventually pledged his allegiance to the Germany national team for future games in February 2021. He represented Germany in UEFA EURO 2020.

One player considered one of the best young footballers in the world, Bukayo Saka’s aim in Qatar will include making amends for his penalty miss in the final of last year’s European Championship.

He is the winner of Arsenal’s Player of the Season award over the last two seasons, Saka heads to his first World Cup with more experience than many within his age bracket.

While he may have opted to play for England, his country of birth, Saka’s performance in the opening game thrilled a lot of Nigerians.

Next are Ugbo and Adekugbe (Canada). Ike Ugbo and Sam Adekugbe made the final squad list for Canada for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Ugbo was born in Lewisham, Greater London, to Nigerian parents. He moved to Canada with his family when he was four or five which makes him eligible for the nation.

Next are Manuel Akanji and Noah Okafor (Switzerland). Akanji was in the starting lineup and was impressive during the duration of the match as he helped Switzerland keep a clean sheet.

The 27-year-old defender who moved to Man City in the summer, having signed from Borussia Dortmund for £15million has been a standout performer.

The 22-year-old Okafor who plays for Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg came in as a second-half substitute for Chicago Fire winger Xherdan Shaqiri in the 72nd minute and was commanding in the middle for the Swiss.

The tragedy of the Nigerian situation is that because there is no political leadership but opportunists that populate the corridors of power, good ideas such as those written by Segun Odegbami on how to fix Nigeria Football where it should be on the global map, won’t be adopted.

One more thing is the exodus in droves of trained professionals from Nigeria including our best doctors, teachers, carpenters, plumbers and information technology minds. Ironically, in the world of crimes, many ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ boys and girls have left the shores of Nigeria.

This exodus is ominous because what it means is that the rest of us are left behind in Nigeria who may be in need of the services of these egg heads especially in the healthcare sector, teaching and information technology, are now left to patronise quacks.

The mess in Nigeria now is massive and they are multidimensional.

First, the frightening alarm of exodus of medical doctors should worry all of us. Nigeria’s Medical Association (NMA) said poor salaries and a lack of conducive working environment forced many medical doctors and health workers to leave Nigeria for other countries with better remuneration.

NMA National President, Dr Uche Ojinmah, in an interview with newsmen recently during the opening ceremony of the 2022 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association held in Gombe, said doctors in Nigeria are underpaid and lack the basic equipment and conducive environment to work, hence they choose to leave the country for greener pastures, a development that causes the shortage of manpower in the country’s health sector.

Ojinmah also decried the underfunding of the healthcare facilities by the Nigerian government, decrying that the country is yet to implement the 2001 Abuja declaration that recommended the allocation of 15 per cent of the budget to the health sector.

Dr Ojinmah noted that in order to improve health indices in the country, there was the need for government to increase funding for the health sector through the provision of equipment and adequate manpower in all the health facilities across the country.

He also emphasised the need for medical personnel to be well remunerated and provided conducive environment to practice their profession, “So as to reduce the massive brain drain that has hit the medical profession.”

The NMA president added that the association was disturbed over the activities of quacks among medical doctors, saying the association was collaborating with directors of medical facilities to rid the health sector of quackery.

Shockingly, Nigerian teachers who for decades, have been grossly underpaid are leaving for greener pastures.
The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said that over 260 Nigerian teachers have migrated to Canada within the outgoing year.

He also said the United Nations had hinted of its intention to sack some teachers and rather embark on mass recruitment of teachers from Nigeria.

Prof. Ajiboye, who spoke at a one-day retreat on the state of education in Nigeria, organised by Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ECAN), in Abuja, lamented the berating of Nigerian education system by Nigerians.

According to him, in spite of the perceived crisis in the nation’s education sector, Nigeria has fared well in terms of education standard, a development he said had made some foreign nations to engage Nigerians for teaching service.

And then the grand mother of all problems in Nigeria, the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey released in Abuja, in which the NBS said the figure represents 63 per cent of the nation’s population.
It added that the poverty index is mostly experienced in rural areas, especially in the north with women and children being the most affected.

The survey was conducted by the NBS, the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

It was gathered that the measure used to calculate the figure was based on Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) with five components of health, living standard, education, security, and unemployment.
According to the survey, over 50 per cent of children across the country are affected by poverty.

In his remarks, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Mr. Adeyemi Adeniran, noted that 56,610 households were surveyed and areas such as health, education, living standards, food security, water reliability, underemployment, security shocks, and school attendance were considered.

While the multidimensional poverty index stood at 27 per cent in Ondo State, the figure is estimated at 90 per cent in Sokoto State.

I have not even talked about the ten million out- of-school kids in Nigeria and the fact that public universities were shut down by government for nearly a year thereby leading to exodus of students to overseas especially those from rich backgrounds and this huge movement of students affects the economy adversely as highlighted in a recent CBN data.

An analysis of data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that Nigerians spent at least $220.86 million on foreign education between December 2021 and February 2022.

In December 2021, the apex bank stated that it spent $90.67million on foreign education.

he CBN also noted that in January 2022, a total of $60,202,730.84 was spent on foreign education, while noting that $69.9 million was spent in February 2022.

Though the bank has not updated the amount spent in March, April and May, it noted that the amount it indicated in December 2021 and January 2022 might be subject to change in future.

Then to cap it, the most hardened criminals and fraudsters are also on the global move. This is why the rate of convictions for fraudsters of Nigerian origin in the USA is unprecedented.

To fix Nigeria, the electorates should now understudy the backgrounds of persons now canvassing for votes in the soon to be held election.

This is the best time to vote in persons with no past criminal records and persons who can be trusted and who are honest, accessible, open, clean academically with traces of all their educational history made known and verified by all Nigerians at the touch of the button. If we vote for someone with past hard drug conviction or someone who became so rich after joining politics, then Nigeria will collapse. The ball is in our court to fix Nigeria that is today in a fix.

Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and was National Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.