Monday, 3 March 2014
Fueling Poverty: The Nigerian Malaise By Wale Bakare
If you have watched the short documentary “Fueling Poverty” by Ishaya Bako you must be smarting in disbelief as to how we have managed to deteriorate as a nation with an abundance of resources at its disposal; how in a short time we have been infected by an incurable syndrome with an unknown therapy. We have built an empire of filth-laden conglomerates of failed states called Nigeria. We’ve lived with an indoctrinated psychic to believe and accept poverty as a natural phenomenon peculiar to the infamous black race dubbed ‘The giant of Africa’. Poverty is raining heavily in this part of the world; we have mastered the art of pettiness to become a pawn in the land of abundance. Corruption is a mega business established in this province with many branches to fuel and sustains its survival. It is saddening to see people who swore an oath during the fuel subsidy probe by the house of representative only to be compromised in the course of their duty by their lack of self discipline and greed.
This tells the tale of the modern Nigerian we live in. Our government is currently catnapping while we seek refuge from our highly exploitative religious leaders who maintain a distant relationship with the state of the polity. Same ideology we’re expected to have as followers, the creed reverberates on our mind daily, we are made to understand that it is a sin to meddle the affairs of this earthly world with the “Divine world”. We can hardly question our leaders on issues of national interest; our voices have been long suppressed. They have succeeded in their brainwash. Distractions of different magnitude are part of the daily dose, our attention has been shifted from a genuine fight against government tyranny, instead, we bomb, kill and maim ourselves- preferring to turn the sword to our fellow brother in the sight of a common disagreement because we have opted to stay divided along the ethnic by-line.
It is quite a disheartening observation that a ‘thinking’ proportion of the population have resigned to fate when it comes to our expectation of the government. Don’t blame our pessimistic nature; we’ve lived in perpetual poverty for decades and trusted successive government over the years. In all of those years our hearts have been broken, our dreams shattered and aspirations reduced to a ruin. We live for today and worry less about tomorrow; that’s the only way to remain sane in this kind of society pregnant with uncertainties.
The majority sees government as non-existing. The people provide their food, shelter, security, electricity and other basic necessities of life by themselves, toiling hard day and night to keep their business afloat evidenced by the interview conducted on the market women in the short documentary film.
I was taken aback in the video as I watch Professor Wole Soyinka’s voice quaver with some degree of discomfort as he announced that the federal government have wasted $7Billion in 2011 alone. The Jonathan’s government has spent N2.5Trillion on fuel subsidy in 2011 against the initial N245Billion earmark. Yet with impunity and hubris in the petroleum sector, the government continues to further agitate for a total removal of the remaining subsidy. This staggering figure indicates a scarcity of sincere leadership in the present government. The Oil marketers, NNPC, PPRAA and other agencies fingered in the subsidy scam report are yet to be prosecuted. Billions of Naira expended to sustain fuel subsidy, yet our refineries are non functional, the queues have not disappeared at our fuel stations and we are forced to buy PMS above the pump price.
The Senate leadership of David Mark has failed in its over-sight function; His cameo role during the OccupyNigeria protest and lack of courage to act further on the fuel motion scam raised on the floor of the national assembly shows how timid he has become with time despite the fact that the motion was raised by one of his legislator, Senator Bukola Saraki, who took the extra gauntlet to align with the masses to champion the fuel pump reversal to its original price of N65 per litre. The individual and collective roles played by the three tiers of government in the wake of the uproar generated by the motion raised and subsequent discoveries will forever remain fresh in our memory.
The decision by the government to ban the Fuelling Poverty documentary that exposes the rot in our society and how poverty has overtaken virtually every aspect of our nation again confirms the military self-styled leadership practiced in Nigeria. This government has metamorphosed into full time autocracy, they loathes criticism hence journalist are arrested like common criminals at intervals.
They are quick to divert citizens’ resources for their personal use and the common wealth to oppress its people. They have embarked on an operation to silence the film, the filmmaker and its roots on all media, alas; the Nigerian twitter space went viral with condemnation of the government action while the documentary continues to enjoy more views globally. Ours is a totalitarian environment where mediocrity is openly celebrated, the corrupt rich evade punishment while injustice is meted out to the poor who bears the brunt of the societal maladies inflicted by the greed and carelessness of the government. Successive government has not been able to transform our human, ecological and mineral resource into economic fruition.
Just like the flash of light, government after government comes with its own policies and agenda that do not meet with the yearnings of the people. We have remained stagnant as a nation renowned for making the news for all the negative reasons. How did we get here? Is our main resource a curse on us? Our dependency on oil for economic sustenance has cost us more harm than good. The oil booze has birthed political violence, ethnic rivalry and infrastructure decay. We have not been able to use the oil wealth to resuscitate the dead sector of our economy. We ought to be ashamed as a country in perpetual hysteria, with the realisation that our oil was discovered 10 years earlier than Dubai discovered theirs, as far back as 1956. Today, despite the abundance of mineral resources on our land, we are still dancing in a circus while Dubai has used the same oil money to change the fortune of its emirates, shifting from an oil producing state to diversify its resources on tourism and trade investment. We need to take a cue from the modern Dubai transformation to begin our healing processes.
Often times than not, it seems that we are the bane of our predicaments; why do we recycle under achieving leaders? Is it so much of a rocket science to identify and vote in leaders with clear vision that can propel us on the road to progress? We can engineer our escape from poverty if we are determined. It is time to take the looters down to the cleaners. We know that endemic corruption in the system is the most challenging problem facing the country today, yet much is not done to rescue the situation. The freedom of information Act should be used to proactively fight and eliminate the scourge from our system. Our destiny lies in our own hands but more importantly, the onus falls on us to participate and monitor our votes, and it is cheaper and more economical to partake in elections at a Local government level where changes can easily be affected than waiting on the judiciary-of-the-highest-bidder to reclaim our stolen mandate. The change we desire starts with me and you, we must get our leadership right if development is to berth on our shores.
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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters