This Christmas is indeed going to be bleak to so many Nigerians despite the fact that it is a season of love and hope for mankind.
As we are about to celebrate this year’s Christmas, an important festival in Christendom, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are currently on strike over funding of public universities and sundry welfare issues. Also, teachers in the nation’s polytechnics under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) have embarked on an indefinite strike.
Only recently, teachers in the nation’s colleges of education under the body of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have called off their months-old strike. Also, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) recently embarked on a three-day warning strike over agreements with government. Before these strikes, members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) are having issues with the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage agreement with the government.
All these are veritable signs that things are not well. All these are happening in a campaign season preparatory to the 2019 general poll scheduled to take place in February and March next year. Although the government has assured of adequate supply of fuel or petrol during the yuletide, we are not so sure that we shall not witness the perennial fuel scarcity that usually greet the Christmas season and the New Year.
Fuel dealers usually see the season as one for a boom in business. Even if there is no scarcity of fuel, the fuel dealers must create an artificial one to hoard fuel and other petroleum products. Ironically, Nigeria is one of the top oil-exporting countries in the world. We export crude oil and import refined fuel at high subsidy cost. This Christmas is indeed going to be bleak to so many Nigerians despite the fact that it is a season of love and hope for mankind.
Many Nigerians will be disappointed that rice, the preferred food for the season, will disappear from their menu on Christmas because of the high cost of the staple despite our claim that we have grown enough rice for domestic consumption. For the striking workers, they won’t know that it is Christmas. For some days now, NEPA has switched off light in our neigbourhood may be because the water at Kainji Dam has dried up or the owners of the privatized PHCN, according the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), and not the Federal Government, should be blamed for power failure in the country.
We should start getting serious with the act of governance. And the first step is for those in government to understand why they are there. The present All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre has indulged so much in blaming the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its dismal performance in office so far. Nigerians can no longer take such excuses any more. The government in power should be willing to accept blames for failure of NEPA or PHCN or the new undertakers of the moribund power behemoth.
Those in government should stop blaming the regime they replaced for the nation’s sundry woes. Nigerians knew what happened and they voted the APC to correct the lapses. It is unfortunate that almost four years down the line, the APC has not weaned itself of blame game. It is still blaming the government it replaced for any problem including those that were self-inflicted by the APC.
They should take blame for the ongoing industrial unrest in the public universities and polytechnics. They should take the blame for the deadlock over the minimum wage with labour. They should take blame for the bad economy, rising unemployment and poverty. As the campaigns are on top gear, the APC should be willing to tell Nigerians why we should give them another term when they have not fulfilled the promises of their first term.
They should tell Nigerians which next level they want to take them again when we are not so sure of the level we are in now. The duty of those in APC is to convince Nigerians of the necessity of another political romance and not what PDP party chieftains are doing in their bedrooms with their wives. The APC must review what they promised, what they achieved and how to achieve the remaining ones.
APC must be reeling out its achievements sector by sector and leave PDP alone. Nigerians have married both the PDP and the APC and they are now in a better position to judge the two. Indulging in name-calling or labeling of people or parties as ‘corrupt and thieves’ will never save any party from defeat. None of the existing political parties in the country can safely lay any claim to sainthood.
The 2019 election, which is very crucial, is never about being holy and being corrupt. It is about who will fix the country. It about who will solve the nation’s many problems. And the problems are legion. The number one problem is the general insecurity in the country. It has been there for years. But the truth now is that it is getting worse and worse every day. The Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen’s menace have escalated the nation’s security problem.
There are even no signs that they will soon abate. While the insurgency and herdsmen’s menace have claimed so many lives, some of the Chibok school girls are still in captivity as wells Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi schoolgirl not yet freed from her captors. These and others held captive by the insurgents should be released. The second problem not in a special order is the wobbling economy and epileptic power supply.
We need experts to solve the energy problem and revamp the economy. If you want to feel the pulse of the nation’s economy, ask any house wife or go and buy some food items. The next problem is the education sector. The sector is dying gradually needs urgent revamping. In fact, there is need to overhaul the education sector starting with primary education which is in tatters right now.
Most public primary schools in the country have collapsed. Only the children of the poor attend them. Extend that to public secondary schools, except unity colleges and those owned by higher institutions or missions, the result will likely be the same. The public universities are poorly funded. This is the main reason why ASUU is on strike. Extend the argument to the polytechnics and colleges of education and the result is going to be the same.
The children of politicians and rich men do not attend our public universities anymore. They prefer varsities in UK, US, Canada and just anywhere but Nigeria. Government should address the funding of our public universities before they die. The health sector is also in danger. It needs serious resuscitation before all of us embark on medical tourism like our political leaders to Europe and America.
All other sectors in Nigeria are equally sick and need surgical operation. The needs of Nigerians are simple, potable water, good roads, electricity, functional health and education systems, security, food and shelter. Let our political leaders use the occasion of this year’s Christmas to address some of these problems so that the citizens will feel the impact and significance of the season of goodwill. Happy Christmas!