The week that just passed is one of those in which Nigeria got the better of me. You know that situation in which everything swarms on you like a colony of bees.
I was stung into confusion wondering whether the ship of Nigeria will ever sail to safety. In this state of despondency, you could even find yourself asking “what the hell?” Shouldn’t one just forget it so long as he is able to feed his family and take care of his needs? Why do I need to worry myself so much about Nigeria, talking, discussing and arguing until I exhaust all the energy left in me?
Perhaps this is why the gods of Nigeria (if there could ever be anything like that since we are all so disunited in our appreciation of issues that we hardly agree on anything that binds us together) ensure that most outspoken Nigerians are not in a place of contentment yet.
So even if you wanted to, the hunger and deprivation, that you suffer and that you see around will propel you into social activism or at least social commentary.
But what exactly is the point in speaking and writing about Nigeria week in week out when things remain the way they are? When hope seems vague like a distant mirage. When today’s politicians show no difference from those of yesteryears, when the people are stuck in their myopic partisanship. You consider the futility of it all and want to give up.
One politician who was the poster boy for effectiveness got into Abuja to lose his mojo. During this past week, he added the information to his already bulging portfolio. He wrote a missive where he told Nigerians about the gains of the much criticised foreign trips of his principal.
One of the gains, according to him, is the opportunity that Nigeria can now stand in the first row for photo ops with leaders of the most developed countries of the world. Meanwhile, this same man has not tackled the myriad of problems emanating from the three ministries over which he superintends. Power is still as erratic as wind; our roads swallow souls and gulp blood by the day and we do not yet have a plan on how to address our 17m housing units’ deficits. Our minister could write to enlighten us about what benefits can accrue to us from being in the same picture with David Cameron, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. But of course, he was applauded for his brilliance by our compatriots.
Someone told me that we cannot blame this minister, or any other one for that matter, for their inactivity. This enlightened fellow argued that the budget has not been passed and so, there is little that ministers can do. He also hinted that the current cash squeeze is a result of the no-budget situation and that things will improve the moment we cross that bridge and government begins to moblise contractors.
That makes a lot of sense, even to an ignoramus like me. But I was forced to ask my friend, whose fault is it that the budget has not been passed? Why has the process of managing a budget and rallying legislators become rocket science for the ruling party? And why has the president not explored the constitutional leeway to spend a certain percentage of the budget ahead of the budget signing.
My friend said the president is principled and would not allow himself to be stampeded into taking decisions. It is the same reason why he would not remove subsidy on petrol even though I bought one litre for 300 naira a couple of weeks back, it is the same reason why he would not agree to the devaluation of the naira (even if it is not his office to do so) although most of the people who need the dollars, with which we benchmark our currency, buy way above the official exchange. The president will not act even though life is being snuffed out of companies and thousands are losing their jobs. One day, this experiment will end hopefully with us having very good stories to tell.
But what is by far most frustrating is the partisanship of the Nigerian citizenry. Those who support yesterday’s government are on the hunt for faults in the current government while supporters of this government, being in the majority see nothing wrong in the government and would always shout down any opposing voice. We are stuck in the web of single stories.
We cannot request for strict observance of the rule of law even when the army that the people fund turned its gun on helpless citizens, allegedly killing and forcing the summary burial of close to 400 people, men, women and their children in just one day!
The president still refuses to act even when cattle herdsmen terrorise the country, killing, maiming, kidnapping, raping and colonizing territories, with government hardly lifting a finger and we, the people, not coming together to condemn these acts.
When things are like this, you know you have cause to worry. You think you should abandon your weekly ranting over what is not about Nigeria. But then ranting is a spirit over which you hardly have control. So rant I must and all I pray to coming is that we speedily begin to see this change so one can find motivation again.