One does not need to consult a political or social scientist to know what is happening in this country; Nigeria. Even a market woman who has never attended a single class in sociology can say that Nigeria is politically, economically and socially unpredictable. Investors are afraid to invest in Nigeria because they can’t tell what might happen to their investments owing to the unpredictable government policies. What you buy today might have another price tag the next day. It is a pity that Nigeria’s economy is going down every day despite the claim of the National Bureau of statistics that Nigeria has exited recession and recorded 0.11% growth in the fourth Quarter. It is not enough to claim that we have exited recession when the living conditions of people remain the same without improvement. People have to feel the positive impacts of the economy in their daily lives.
The capability to meet up several financial obligations like paying of school fees and having something left in the bank is what people want. Smiles on people’s faces are sure evidence that there is a light at the end of the economic tunnel. If the economy improves we will no longer point fingers at the politicians as the only people that can eat because we can also eat and not rely on the politicians’ handouts. Politicians get us on their side to believe everything they say because we are incapacitated by poverty. Political misunderstandings arise from empty stomachs among the poor because they know the politics of the stomach. The uneven distribution of the national cake is not enough but causes agitations. Nigeria needs to work very hard to avoid ethnicity and nepotism; “my people first” in resource distribution, employment and government appointments.
This has destroyed Nigeria and created a crack in unity making people ask whether Nigeria would continue to be together as one country or not. If you look at government appointments, you will feel sad because of the imbalance. This imbalance makes Nigeria look like wobbling wheels of a car that one isn’t sure if it can reach its destination. Fear of uncertainty is pervading everywhere. Employment is at a zero level and Government still struggles to pay the minimum wage that can’t even take workers home. We thought that quota system is the thing of the past but it reigns supreme. Banditry has become a lucrative business because ransoms paid after kidnappings far surpass normal earnings of the herdsmen through cattle rearing and sales. They live fabulously even though their lifestyles do not show that. They target everyone even the students knowing that government would negotiate and pay fat ransom while waiting for help from overseas.
Because of the recent kidnappings of students by bandits in Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello has ordered the immediate closure of boarding schools in Four (4) Local government Areas of the state. That is not enough. A strong security system would help. It seems that the whole thing is quid pro quo between the government and the bandits. Can we say the cause of entering into this venture is poor taste or greed? The way the bandits are treated leaves one to wonder if what they do is condemnable or not. Regional security networks and individuals struggling to eradicate them are treated with disdain and even labeled terrorists while bandits were considered for amnesty. How then can banditry be eliminated? The simple reason Nigeria is drowning in insecurity is due to lack of political will. Bandits are almost taking over the shine of Boko Haram.
It was previously Boko Haram abducting students, now the bandits have taken over. Are the bandits same as Boko Haram? Have they been baptized to banditry while they carry out their notorious activities with boldness? Have we forgotten the Chibok girls’ saga which was the peak of the campaign that brought the current government to power? Must we protect the bandits due to their commercial values? Now we have the Kagara kidnap and recently the kidnap of almost 300 school girls again in Zamfara! News came about their release and another came that they are still in captivity. What games are being played out? If our government had decided to take the bull by the horns, boko haram could have been a thing of the past and stories of attacks on farmers would no longer be heard. It is unfortunate that we are handling things that are not of immediate importance while leaving out things that would unify us.
The government should fight the security menace with the right strategies instead of ridiculing us before the world through open visits to bandits and payment of ransoms. The issue of banditry is a complex undertaking that the government should handle seriously instead of soft-pedaling the whole thing. It would cost Nigeria seriously if not properly handled. Imagine the favour God gave to Nigeria recently through the recent appointment of Dr. Okonjo Iweala as the WTO Director-General thereby becoming the first African and woman to be elevated to such enviable post. Nigeria should have summoned courage to demonstrate to the world that she is a part of the whole world by acting fast to make the citizens happy and showcasing the other good side of her to the world.
This is what elevates a nation. Education in Nigeria is complex and many times it is discouraging as if the authorities do not know the value of education. Imagine ASUU being on strike for several months, discouraging the learning spirits of students while the children of the politicians go overseas to enjoy uninterrupted education. After graduation, they are immediately fixed into various ministries where they receive jumbo salaries as their parents while graduates from poor backgrounds trek all around the roads jobless while others take up menial jobs. When the bright minds among the graduates manage to see themselves outside Nigeria, they become widely known and contribute immensely to other countries’ economies.
We have heard of many overseas that have taken part in various innovative technologies like iPhones, microchips and car designs with several awards. If left in Nigeria; they can become frustrated and embrace different crimes. They can even be lured into kidnapping and terrorism. Education brightens the minds and gives great opportunities. The Nigerians who have gone through western education no matter the part they come from in Nigeria are soaring higher in other countries. The inability of Nigeria to tap from her human potentials has really taken the economy back. There is a lot of brain drain. We woke up late to embrace education and its best practices.
While still brooding on several hardships from different corners, farmers from the northern part of Nigeria decided to go on strike creating scarcity of meat and other food items! Are we moving forward or backwards? The west has declared a boycott of beef eating in protest of the herds men’s kidnap. Individual groups are taking up the responsibility of securing themselves. Our government should wake up in order to regain the trust from the citizens. The major challenge facing Nigeria is that the citizens don’t believe or trust the government even when they are telling the truth or planning something beneficial to the citizens. This came as a result of many failed promises even when they were given all the benefits of doubts.
We received the news of the arrival of Covid-19 vaccine into Nigeria. Going through the numerous comments of people on social media, one would discover that many don’t even believe the existence of the virus in Nigeria not to talk about seeing the need for a vaccine. They call it “Government business venture”. With numerous conspiracy theories and opinions about the vaccine flying around, one can easily spot the tough task ahead to convince people to take the vaccine. If our government were believable it would not have been seen as a tough task. All we pray and need now is a sensitive government that feels the plight of the citizens, a government that will calm the various current unrests be it political, economic, social, and various sectors of the economy for Nigeria to be great again.
• Very Rev. Msgr. Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a social Justice and Peace Advocate.