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Time To Pay For A Breath Of Fresh Air

There is always the payback time, and for Nigerians, the payback time is now. They asked for it and now they have it, just like we asked for NTA’s Tuesday Life. They asked for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and now they have him in flesh and blood.

There is always the payback time, and for Nigerians, the payback time is now. They asked for it and now they have it, just like we asked for NTA’s Tuesday Life. They asked for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and now they have him in flesh and blood.

Remember that we no longer enjoy the privilege of reconnecting with the great Zik of Africa in our President’s name. No sooner did Azikiwe intrude into our president’s name than he was eased out quietly and systematically. For the short period that he lived in the President’s name, he proved quite useful; but that was as long as he lived. Good things don’t come easily, especially if that thing is bathed in a pool of good luck(s). We all know how much we pay individually when we go to a Babalawo, a Marabout, or a Prayer Warrior in search of a dint of good luck. Why then won’t we pay twice as much or even more now that we have good luck in his magnificent presence in our ungrateful midst?

Not that Good luck came alone unaccompanied and unassisted; the possibility of him coming alone into the vast consuming and seemingly unconquerable theatre of mainstream Nigerian politics is well-nigh impossible. His credentials were not simply the wag stick and the customary Niger Delta hat, or the fangled poverty-stricken and shoeless school boy in the riverine Niger Delta that is replicated in Kauran Namoda, Nguru, Ogwuata, Esseyin, etc, he had behind him more than good luck; he had behind him the men and the women who hold the master keys to the doors which housed our minds and our thoughts as well as the device which controls their function. These men and women, some of them known, some faceless, are the people who anointed GEJ and catapulted him to the highest seat in the land. There is nothing spectacularly wrong with Jonathan becoming the President of Nigeria.

Indeed, I celebrated his emergence not once on this column especially because he comes from the minority who feels they are giving more and getting less from the Nigerian federation. Further, his emergence, rhetoric and gimmickry aside, provided a refreshing impression that given the right environment minorities can also mount the highest position in the land. But the men and women described above, because they find him amenable to their whims and caprices, sold him to Nigerians with all the imaginable and unimaginable tactics that one could ever think of. And because every actor works with a script, our President is reading from a script that is prepared for him. He can never deviate from the script, not when he is himself passionately in love with the position. Otherwise, how soon will a President who promised us a breath of fresh air turn around to bath us with fouled air and want us to believe that it is the necessary oxygen for survival?

Events of the past five days since the punitive removal of the oil subsidy have been dramatic. It was clear that this government has made up its mind to remove the subsidy no matter whose ox is gored. Of course, you can tell that it is the ordinary Nigerians’ oxen that will be gored to death. To demonstrate the catastrophic impact of this action by the government, even sachet water which goes for five naira has jumped to ten naira. You can now tell the ripple effect that the removal of subsidy will have on goods and services. The President said: ‘‘the journey will be tough, it’s not going to be too painful anyway because I also know that leaders who bring on the people always end up badly.’’ This may be an innocent statement from a struggling but optimistic President, but the truth is that Nigerians no longer have any iota of trust for their leaders. And this is not about President Jonathan; it is about every leader of this country since we began the journey of nationhood that is not able to match his words with action.

Nigerians are living witnesses to the colossal fraud that characterised the Power Projects and Privatization exercise of the Federal Government. Nigerians are living witnesses to the crass depletion of our foreign reserves and proceeds from excess crude with no any added value to their living condition. Nigerians are equally also living witnesses to the most expensive election ever conducted in Nigeria’s short but harrowing history. Everything was staked into reclaiming the government for the ruling party. Unfortunately, however, some of the tactics deployed then are beginning to collectively haunt us and even threatening to tear us apart. The ordinary Nigerian, the category of which our President promised a breath of fresh air, has lost two things: capacity to eke out less than a dollar per day living and the precariously relative security. This is too painful, indeed a hangman’s noose for them, and one needs simply to be down below to know that this is the very truth.

If this is not meant to be a too painful experience for Nigerians as the President says, then the palliatives should precede the removal and the eventual removal negotiated over a period of time. But the government and its crack team of experts were not out to negotiate; they were out only to tell Nigerians that subsidy removal has no alternative and the sooner it is removed the better for the health of the nation’s economy. By way of analogy, a bed-ridden patient with a terminal disease needs not be given the opportunity to live the remaining days of his life; he needs to be stampeded to death through the administration of a lethal drug. There is the likelihood that in between the remaining days of the patient’s life, miracle may spring his way that may remove the life-threatening disease.

And I know very well that Nigerians believe in miracles. Why are they denying them the opportunity of experiencing miracles in the case of the trumped up imminent collapse of the economy? Where were our team of crack experts spearheaded by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the World Bank economist, when our leaders serially steal billions of naira from government coffers with so much ease and not caring less at all of any one raising an eye brow? Where was our brilliant and much celebrated CBN Governor when our foreign reserve was depleted to almost less than a billion dollars? What about the massive leakages and duplication of functions that is eating into the already wearied coffers of government? Truth is that Nigerians cannot be sure of SURE- Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Fund.

So, Nigerians will always pay for our leader’s misadventure in government. And because Nigerians are always there to pay, these thieving and orgies of consumption and accumulation by our leaders will continue unabated. I thought that government should reason that the embers of self inflicted post election fire is yet to die out, hence it should not strike a match at an inflamed atmosphere. Otherwise Nigerians shall be justified to conclude that this is the fangled breath of fresh air that the shoeless President promised us. Our President still has ample time to revisit this and other policies so that he does not ‘‘end up badly.’’ I truly do not want my President to end up badly because in him I see a glimpse of hope that I can also make it.

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