The unsmiling and gloomy faces of Nigerians on the streets invite a probe into their lived experiences and everyday encounters with a view to unpacking how leadership cluelessness and underperformance continue to negatively impact the lives of the majority. Whether holding umbrella or broom, the gluttonous leadership structures elevate primitive accumulation for the SELF above the common good of the REST. They ascend leadership positions through deceit and construct their castles with the common patrimony and in exchange, unleash poverty, unemployment and insecurity on the pummelled hoi-polloi. Bitterness and regret seem to have enveloped those who enthusiastically had hoped the CHANGE promised by candidate Muhammadu Buhari will be positive and the country will be on the path of greatness again. Nigerians appear to have entered a metaphoric ‘one-chance’ vehicle of change which has served them next level of insecurity, bad economy and deepened corruption.
Saheed is a mechanic who patronises road side Amala food vendor where he spends about N300 (N200 Amala and N100 meat) for lunch. The Amala was N50 per wrap but Saheed who had planned to buy the usual combination was shocked when told that the wrap of Amala had experienced inflation and is now N100! He would now need N500 to reach his old level of satisfaction under the new price regime. Ten litres Groundnut Oil that was sold a month ago at N6, 000 is now about N10, 000. Don’t even go near red oil. Bread bakers have reduced the quality to retain the old price. Welcome to PMB’s second wave of ‘enugbe’ economy (recession). The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics released in December 2020 put the inflation rate at 14.89%. Do you wonder why food prices soar above the reach of many Nigerians? Farming communities are at the mercy of rampaging herders, bandits and rustlers who displace them at will while government response remains lukewarm. During the farming season, some farming communities battled violent aggressors, got displaced and lodged in internally displaced persons’ camps. While those displaced could not farm, those who managed to plant crops are at the mercy of terrorists like the Zabarmari massacre where rice farmers were slaughtered like chickens. At the time of writing this piece, there has been no information about arrest of their killers and we have since moved to Kankari abduction and release episodes among others. How do you ensure food sufficiency when you can’t protect farming communities?
African China’s song, ‘Mr President’ has become an ever green message to the leadership that things are worse off. To know if Mr President is (not) leading us well, carefully examine what brought him to power after three serial rejections at the polls. PMB unseated former President Goodluck Jonathan on three major electoral promises: fight corruption, tackle insecurity and fix the economy. Today, many hailers of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) presidency have become wailers. Pressure groups, labour Unions, and human rights activists invested a lot in this government and their regrets are conveyed by lamentations.
African China saw ahead of 2020 when he said: “food no dey, brother transportation no dey and our road no good o, what about NEPA people oooo we no get light. make una lead us well, no let this nation to fall inside well. Mr President!”. African China’s song captured Governors and National Assembly, and Police, who he advises to ‘police well well no dey take bribe’. Unable to stimulate economy coupled with State governors’ parasitic dispositions, people’s dreams get dashed as anomie sets in. A government that uses naked force to suppress law abiding Nigerians drawing attention to apparent gaps in governance, willingly and happily negotiating with terrorists and bandits. Those who slaughter people get amnesty, but law abiding citizens get chained, restricted and violated by the state.
The results of this security deficiency are what made Nigeria to be classified among nations experiencing serious hunger. The 2020 Global Hunger index examined 107 countries and Nigeria came 98th. A Hungry man is an angry man and anger and protest can engender insecurity as people innovate survival strategies including taking to crime. This perhaps will help to explain why Nigeria presently seats in the third position on the 2020 Global Terrorism Index ahead of Syria (4th) and Somalia (5th). If cows are killed the way our frontline fighters are killed, many lives would have been sacrificed. What do their families benefit for dying for the country? How then can we be happy? The 2020 World Happiness report analysed data from 156 countries and asked people how happy they perceive themselves to be. The idea behind this is that there is need for government to give priority to the issue of happiness and well being in determining how to achieve and actualise growth and sustained development. Nigeria is 113th country out of 156 countries. Ghanaians are happier and are at 89th position. Even Morocco (95), Cameroun (96), Algeria (98), and Niger (107) are better than us.
With poor economy, insecurity, corruption is inevitable. From NDDC Ponde-gate, to off-the-microphone scenario and lately, Maina-gate, we see how rich men infuse ill-health dramaturgy to evade being tried for alleged corruption. In another court, a poor man that stole a goat was sent to jail. African China understands Nigeria’s inequality in the treatment of offenders and how classism shields corruption when he says “Poor man wey thief maggi dem go show im face for crime fighter. Rich man wey thief money we no go see im face for crime fighter. Tell me something I know know”. The fraud in the electoral system still calls for concern and the 2020 Edo and Ondo elections will not be exceptions. Hmmmm……African China notes “election for my country na padi padi, wayo wayo, arrange naa ni. People wey vote them in still dey live in pain, this na disgrace I am so ashamed”. Certainly, those who promised to take millions out of poverty but succeeded in plunging millions into it and crowning the country as world capital of poverty should be ashamed for failing on their promises.
Hide not under COVID-19 because the foundations of the outcomes we see today predated the month of March 2020 when COVID-19 became a national emergency. What aggravated health problems? Lethargic leadership failed to close the airspace to allow powerful associates into the country and caused circulation of the virus. Unlike terrorists, bandits and kidnappers who go after soft targets, COVID-19 virus is a ruthless classless virus. Trapped inside the nation, ‘big men’ cannot access medical tourism. They breached COVID-19 protocols from Aso-rock; even the burials of the powerful violated social distancing yet no one was punished. One would have thought that the unfortunate loss of lives of big men and ordinary Nigerians would have trained PMB and state Governors to fund health and education in their domains but as soon as ease of lockdown occurred they resumed medical tourism.
The strain is much and the tension is rising. It is also not too late for Mr President and the lethargic National Assembly to wake up before plunging the nation finally into the well against the wise counsel of African China. Fix economy to reduce the strain and attack insecurity frontally and check growing inequality which has made more people corruption-friendly. Stop allowing security threats into the country from northern borders. For the former hailers now wailing, the lesson is learning from history. A variable (integrity) is proving insufficient to entrust the future of millions in the hands of those who have shown lack of capacity and clue to solving economic and insecurity problems and bridge the widening gulf between the haves and have-nots. Future generations should learn not to vote a candidate that is better suited for the job of EFCC Chairman as Commander-in-Chief of the nation. In 2021, Mr President, Lead Us Well and bring positive Changes that will catapult Nigerians into NEXT level of security, happiness and prosperity.
Dr. Tade, a sociologist writes via [email protected]