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A woman sings as she holds a banner during a civil society groups march against the recent rise of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, on September 14, 2019, in Johannesburg’s Central Business District. At least twelve people have been killed and hundreds of shops destroyed since the start of September in a surge in attacks targeting foreign-owned businesses in and around South Africa’s largest city. PHOTO: Michele Spatari / AFP

Okoo! I wish I were Nigeria’s president at this moment.”

“Tufiakwa! Perish that thought there is no pleasure in that position. Anyway, you have just exposed yourself as one of those envying President Muhammadu Buhari’s job. See eeh, even Atiku Abubakar that is fighting tooth and nail to unseat Buhari through election petitions, if he ever succeeds, the stories and one excuse after the other or blaming previous governments why the economy, electricity, roads among others are in bad shape will not cease. By the way, what informed your decision to have such a tall dream”?

“I just want to have a ‘pound of flesh’ from those ungrateful lazy sons and daughters of apartheid South Africans for the xenophobic attack on Nigerians.”

“Hmm, good talk but you don’t need to do that as a president. More so, diplomacy does not allow any country to retaliate injustice meted on its citizens with “an eye for an eye” solution. Beside, Nigeria is a big brother of the continent whom everyone looks up to.”

“Well, I am just angry about the dastardly act and the inhuman treatment.”

“Of course, everybody is angry. That is why their President, Ramaphosa quickly rushed an envoy to Nigeria and apologized. However, we have to look inward and address the issues that led to it from the root cause.”

“You see, that is the problem I have with you bookuru people. What type of apology after they have killed our people like chicken, will the apology bring them back to life…and you are here talking about root?”.

“I can imagine your anger. But that is not what I am driving at. Come to think of it, what made our people to leave Nigeria for South Africa or any other country in the first place?”

“What are you trying to insinuate? So you mean Nigerians have become prisoners that they cannot travel to other countries?”

“Haba! Please don’t get me wrong nobody is saying that, by the way how many of those xenophobic returnees travelled to South Africa as tourists or investors? They all went in search of greener pasture because our economy and government has failed us completely.”

“Of course, I now know that you are an opposition. You people will always blame Buhari’s government for everything and don’t see anything good in the ruling party. Is Mr President not trying his best?”

“You don’t get the point. Even the government itself knows that things are not shaping out well. The other day, the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed said the Buhari administration is facing significant medium-term fiscal challenges in revenue generation and rapid growth in personnel cost.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to clean up the government’s ugly sheet.”

“Are you therefore implying that the xenophobia returnees are leaving the frying pan to fire?

“Otioo! No, not at all, as Nigerians they have no other country to call their own, so we must salvage the country together. Even before they left the shores of the country, Nigeria’s economy had been going through a difficult phase”.

“Hmm, you are beginning to sound like a government apologist. Nigeria’s governments past and present have been unfair to the people for too long a time. They lack vision and solution that would ameliorate the economic problems because of cheap oil revenue. Therefore, government is quick to bluff candid economic rejuvenation advice or pay lip service to such as the recent by senior agriculture economist, World Bank, Adetunji Oredipe who said that “…government must articulate a clear vision to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria, through an agricultural sector that drives income growth…revive the rural economy by transforming Nigeria into an agriculturally industrialized economy, create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers.”

“What surprises one the most is the fact that government and its officials neglect the main issues and pursue frivolous selfish agenda and refuse to embrace laudable ideas that can lift millions of people out of poverty. Rather, government would create a solution in search of a problem just like the border closure to curb smuggling and importation of rice, which has invariably caused unimaginable problems for the masses. However, government itself is the biggest importer, according to Oredipe, “In 2016 alone, Nigeria spent $965m on the importation of wheat, $39.7m to import rice and $100.2m on sugar importation…none of the above transactions (importation of fish, sugar and rice) is fiscally, economically or politically sustainable. Consequently, Nigeria, he said, is tragically living on borrowed time, a typical case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“But for how long are we going to continue flirting with solution to our problems?

“Well, I am sorry to say ‘till the end of time’ because even the 36 states’ governors have been stereotyped as too comfortable for Abuja handout every month and are not thinking outside the box. While the masses are too desirous to sell their vote for peanut during election period, much as they are very complacent and humble to hear from government on how this or that problem will be solved with an added burden on them. For instance, in his first term, the Buhari’s government cajoled the people to believe that an increased pump price of fuel from N97 to N145 will give the people a better life as funds will be readily available to provide infrastructure across the country. That is still a far cry at the moment, but the new face of the kalokalo with regards to the next level’s agenda is the proposed increase of value added tax (VAT) from 5 per cent to 7.2 per cent”.

“Nigeria is working no doubt, however, in other climes where accountability and democracy works, it is the duty of government to lessen the peoples’ burden by providing palliatives and basic human necessities. But the reverse is the case in this part of the world as governments constantly give citizens huge burden and more than enough pain in the neck to handle. Perhaps such is the reason behind most Nigerians desire to seek greener pasture in “xenophobic” South Africa or embark on the perilous voyage through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe just to escape the hardship at home”.

“Omaseo! It seems Nigerian leaders are perfect example of those fairytale leaders whose duty is to give a shinning example of the good life that awaits people if they can plot their way to the top. Hence, Nigeria’s political leaders propagate splendour than demonstrate despondency in the face of the suffering masses. As it is today, self service overrides selfless service”.

“Right now, the people are obviously overwhelmed because so many extraordinary events are happening in Nigeria’s politics that it is impossible to tell the normal from the abnormal especially now that APC believes in affidavit more than certificate”

“Only God can save us from this political penkelemes that allows politicians to define and configure issues to suit their selfish interest”.

“There is a great mystery as to why such ugly incidents regularly occur in Nigeria’s political space. Sometime ago in the not too distant past, it was 12/2 third that denied Nigerians the ‘best president’ they never had and fairly recently the ‘do-or-die’ affair scares away the right candidates.

Former President Yar’Adua was honest enough to admit that the election that brought him to power was not credible enough. Yet the political class, especially the ruling government is reluctant to address credibility issues because their interest is simply a much bigger deal than the people or the country at large”.

“Nwa’nna, let me proceed to my shop. But, Nigerians should join their faith and pray that Mr. President will never encounter anything that will cause him trauma in the near future because the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that saved him recently does not hold every day shikena”.


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