Friday, 7 March 2014
Saving Nigeria: Are Nigerians Ready? By Taofeek Ramat
I once wrote on my blog encouraging true patriots of Nigeria, not to weep for Nigeria, their country, and indeed Nigerians at the lower rung of the society, who are bearing the brunt of all the ills that have befallen the potentially great country. That Giant of Africa that has become a symbol of how-not-to-be-a-giant.
That conclusion I reached emanated from my understanding of the difficulty of getting an oppressed people to free themselves from the shackles of those holding them hostage. For as we have come to know – the unearned suffering has now become fashionable to the sufferers! And it is all part of the bargain and plan of the oppressors. Not that I do not believe that Nigeria and indeed Nigerians can be saved, far from it. I do believe that Nigeria and Nigerians can be saved, but this is not going to be a child’s play. It is going to be a journey far longer and frustrating than the biblical wilderness voyage of the Israelites.
The adventure of salvaging Nigeria and saving Nigerians is going to be more tortuous than the struggle for economic development, not just growth in GDP as we have seen in much of the Latin America, Southeast Asia or indeed the rest of the world that have raised far more than half of their population from poverty and instituted a more lasting egalitarian economy. And these successful economies, I should remind you, are not based on the template promoted by Bretton Woods’ institutions of World Bank, IMF or WTO.
What for me has been a constant encouragement, particularly of late, is the fact that stories of people and countries attaining true libration abound, from Brazil to Singapore, from Norway to Finland. And when I say economic and political liberation, I am not talking about that overhyped and falling apart glory of greatness of America or Britain, but truly advanced societies that understand the need to pull everyone up and developing their society not by plundering and destabilizing others. But again, more concerns remain based on the peculiarities of Nigeria, just like the rest of Africa or indeed the third world that have perpetually been held down to remain as museums of underdevelopment. And this too is part of the bargain and plan!
Talking of the concerns, let’s dwell a bit on this. You would have realized that in the history of political and economic struggles across the world, there have always been the true champions of the people and the ponies working for their masters, those within and without their borders. Let’s keep a tab on the differences of the two opposing camps. The true champions are mainly to the left of the political spectrum. These are the unapologetic liberals who believe in and work for the good of the majority. And we have the supposed ponies – those to the right. And you know, most of these slaves, the house niggers, the armies of turncoats, nitwit and halfwit foot soldiers and bootlickers never consider it that they are ruining their lives while they mortgaged their people and society.
The lessons in collective liberation and development that guarantees the wellbeing of individual never sink into their skulls or minds. These lots who are Judases consider the crumbs reaching them as the sweetest they can get and, the fleeting allure they revel in, the highest it can ever get. Even the man Fridays among them always feel they have some powers – a sheer illusion. And please be wary of the accidental progressives or those unrepentant capitalist adorning the toga of socialist democrats. There are many who are looking for where their bread can be buttered. And of course, the late converts into the progressive gospels, including OBJ – whose endless gallivanting around the world is just a desperate attempt to keep intact until death a stinking integrity threatening to explode.
Let’s take the discussion further. You know the identities of the ponies have been changing over time. In the pre-independence era of Nigeria, they were just some sets of foolish political opportunists, who happen to chance on power or authority as per their time, either as clerks or as would be civil servants or political representatives taking over from the marauding British. For a better understanding of the distinctions between the two camps at the struggle for the soul of Nigeria during the period just before independence, please take time to read the ‘early intimations’ chapter of Wole Soyinka’s memoir – You must set forth at dawn. Page 42 and 43 of the book should be of interest for those hoping to take back their country. And the changing identities get a bit musty under the military regimes; I do not want to go any further there. And you must also know that the ranks of those holding Nigeria by the jugular, those mortgaging their nation and people for a piece of the pie have swelled so much over the years.
Now in this era, with the birthing of a kind of democracy, since 1999, we now have a more elitist, well read, well travelled and eloquent ponies. And the sad part of the story – these lots despite their education, global travels and experience continue to sell to the government and people of Nigeria alchemy in the name of programmes and policies which will never lead to a collective liberation and development – socially, economically or politically. These lots are expert in turning logic on its head. They can rationalize anything. They are adept in making good speeches, mesmerizing their audiences while those who are not so vocal throw around their international credibility from their certificates, to education and those global positions they have held in time past.
And majority of Nigerians continue to believe them. So saddening! I wish Nigerians will not just moan about the many brilliant on paper but failed programmes that they have shoved down our throats, particularly since 1999, but will get to understand these tricks as part of the plan and bargain to perpetually keep them poor while their nation remain a museum of underdevelopment. Nigerians should know that the likes of Magnus Kpakol understand full well that poverty can never be alleviated through the NAPEP. Charles Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi know that millions of banking reforms as they are implementing them will never liberate the economy for the poor. Nigerians should know that Okonjo Iweala knows full well that seeking debt relief for Nigerians by agreeing to pay $12.4bn of debt no one can point to where such monies were spent and was spent for, and dolling out at-a-go in once tranche $4.6bn; an equivalent of N736bn naira cannot improve the Nigerian economy, nor the lots of poor Nigerians. Nigerians should remember that way back in 2006 after our monies were given away, we were promised that our economy will grow, the government can focus more on infrastructure development. Where is the growth and where are the infrastructures? What is obvious six years down the line is that the ranks of the poor have swelled going by the Nigerian government official statistics.
The Okonjo Iweala that doled out such humongous monies then, knew full well that that sum could give Nigerians a railway system across the country that can rival the best anywhere in the world. Not the crappy revamping some are already celebrating, and as you well know, will be used for campaign come 2015 elections. That money threw away can give Nigerians the best road network from Lagos to Nguru and many more in infrastructure transformation of the best money can buy. She and her likes know clearly that putting the needed infrastructures in place is what it takes to transform the Nigerian economy, and get over 60 million Nigerians out of poverty. Even if we were truly indebted and ought to pay, putting in place working infrastructure in transport and energy would have turned around the Nigerian economy such that we would have become buoyant and wealthy enough to pay off the fictitious debt or tell the Paris Club to go to hell, should we choose to fight.
That same Okonjo Iweala knows full well that increasing the price of petroleum is not what is going to save the poor and the economy. She understands that instead, ensuring petrol and diesel sells for N10 per litre is what is needed to revamp our economy. Imagine what life would have been for the artisans running generators to be able work, if diesel and petrol sells for as low as N10 per litre. Imagine what life would be for the motorists and civil servants buying fuel for not more than N10 per litre. She understands full well that what would create transformative ripples of economic development is to allow people to access fuels at the cheapest rates possible, so that Nigerians can remain productive, while the government grapples with putting in place lasting solutions to energy and other challenges. This too is all part of the plan and the bargain.
And it gets very interesting, really interesting – the savings from their so-called subsidy removal under their concocted SURE-P is going in the ways of other funds being accumulated and wasted for the country. Nigerians will wake up in five years times and realized that they are truly not better off. I wish Nigerians will learn to understand and get better prepared to tackle the tricks by these cheats. These economic hit men and women are doing more damage to Nigerians, and their figure head presidents and lawmakers don’t know any better. Tell me, how would a Harvard trained economist not know how 45000 ghost workers found themselves into the government payroll? Or imagine Bright Okogu with all his supposed brightness and haughtiness not know that what goes for budget emanating from MDAs, which is yearly compiled and sold to Nigerians by the budget office under his watch.
These guys know full well that their policies and all that they are doing on behalf of Nigerians will not transform Nigeria. They are just slaves working for the vested interests, who I shall not mention. You may see them, years down the line, getting converted and sounding pretentiously progressive like some would want to lately, but that would be after many more Nigerian lives have been destroyed. They come with new songs of I am pro-poor Nigerians, only after they have completed the task of increasing the ranks of the despaired and deprived souls, as well as destroying dreams. And you know – these guys know that we are a country of 170million peoples, but they cannot feel the weight of this. To them 170million people is mere statistics, not lives, not blood, not people with basic needs, dreams and aspirations.
For those working for the liberation, and truly, of Nigeria, please do not commit the ultimate error of believing that the uproar and protest that attended the 2012 January removal of the unreal subsidy is going to be helpful in getting us to the dreamland anytime soon. Nigerians have long forgotten about that pinch that pauperized them, adding more to the tales of woes, desperations, destroyed dreams and shattered lives. We have been there before, and I would add, this too is part of the bargain and plan!
Talking more about the concerns, you can see that the many attempts at garnering momentums to galvanize dissents; for fueling the anger of the people towards preparing for a change of their fortunes are wobbling. Ishaya Bako released the documentary ‘Fueling Poverty’, which was endorsed by Wole Soyinka and featured as many activists and other Nigerians since November 2012, but I can tell you, the presentation of that documentary has not attracted Nigerians to the cinema where it has been shown. On the social media too, it has only received 14,054 views on YouTube as I am composing this commentary. How bizarre for a country with as many as 50million youths already online, on FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, whatsapp, Skype, blackberry, you name it, both home and abroad!
A group of concerned citizens launched the KickOut Siddon Look, running to about a month now, but the membership of the FaceBook group has only reached 337 and barely 841 likes. In the past we have had many songs released by countless number of artists, which ought to help our collective angers to simmer, in order to channel our efforts towards liberating ourselves, but all these have amounted to nothing. So saddening and depressing for patriots! Including those who have escaped the sweltering realities of life in Nigeria! There are also many more countless efforts, fora, listserv, discussion forums and of course the dialectical processes which have been going for as long as I can remember – the news stand parliaments, the tête-à-tête which can also be a college of group of Nigerians soaked in passionate discussions about the disgusting conditions of their homeland.
Why are all these not helping to instigate the motion for change and truly better life for Nigerians?
As the 2015 elections draw nigh and the plots of the drama thicken, my concerns get heightened. If the patriots are going to save Nigeria and Nigerians, a lot more needs to be done and differently. Please do not rest on your oars because the oppositions are merging. That would not go far. In fact, such can be a perfect recipe for a return to the status quo. We have been there before. Remember at the birth of democracy in 1999, true patriots who fought the despots went back to sleep, and the few who came into power have progressive and patriotic credentials that are contestable. It was the passiveness and going back to the sleep of those who fought for the new democracy that gave us demagogues parading themselves as democrats; the supposed progressive who perpetuated more destruction – continuing in the styles of the destroyers. And we ought to be wary of those supposed progressives who savour the vanity and grandstanding of those in the other camp – people with blood oath commitment to ensure Nigerians remain poor amidst oceans of human and material resources, even the best of climate.
And we ought to, by every means possible change tactics. If you are not bothered, I am. And the more reason why we should be worried is – countries that have made the leap into better living condition for their people did not take 15 years learning the ropes, chanting nascent democracy. If you are in doubt make a call to Brazil or Finland. Unlike the countries which pick over half of their population out of poverty within such a period, Nigerian leaders have taken fifteen years to waste our commonwealths on frivolities and megalomaniac projects. And they get as many fooled because these hypes of accomplishment get good sound bites in the media. A true transformation and development is the one that takes millions out of poverty, ensure improved social wellbeing for all, not increasing unemployment, death and despair.
As we match towards 2015, it is time to change tactics. We cannot give up on Nigeria. The singers, actors, and artists who came out to protest in January 2012 ought to have gone back to their drawing boards, and by now we should have been premiering movies, documentaries and commentaries that Nigerians would come out to watch and go back home somber and reflective of their desperate lives and living conditions, not the many helping to perpetuate ‘suffering and smiling’.
And one more worry, that man who recruited some group of artists to lend their voice to perpetuating the oppression of their people, endorsing a clueless presidential candidate has started implementing the same template again. Did you not hear he had dinner with them last week? Just one the strategies he deployed the other time, which he is reapplying again towards 2015. And you know the vested interests know that GEJ is not competent, nor committed to deliver to millions of suffering Nigerians genuine transformation – an improved life and socioeconomic wellbeing. This too is just part of the plan and bargain.
If we are going to save Nigeria and Nigerians, we all should be already in the trenches by now. We should take over the social media space tearing the docile and complacent youth from the useless and meaningless application of the social media that is sating them ready to commit the blunder of voting for the clueless guy again. We should have taken over the radio and television stations and ensure those songs tailored to waking people up from the passivity and nonchalance towards politics and governance, become a daily dose for entertainment, morning, noon and at night fall. We should have taken over the churches and mosques as well as the football viewing centers, and ensure that our people watch movies and documentary that will wake them up. Instead of the prayer and evangelical crusades, we should be showing all across the country movies and documentary such as ‘Fueling Poverty’.
It is not too late to start and there are countless strategies we can collectively and individually deploy in this all important task of saving Nigeria.
May Nigeria be saved, so that it will no longer require a miracle to travel on our roads safely!
May Nigeria be saved, so that pregnancy will no longer be a death sentence!!
May Nigeria be saved, so that being educated does not mean you are consigned to despair!!!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters