Njide has lived in Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, for over 10 years. She is a young woman who dreads to hurt even a fly. But, sometimes, it is what one dislikes or fears that one is confronted with. Recently, insecurity forced her to relocate to Minna, the capital of Niger State, with her children. Her husband stayed back in Kagara to continue his business.
Last Wednesday, the man left Kagara in the evening to see his family in Minna. A few minutes after the vehicle he boarded left the community, bandits struck. They were said to be over 70. They attacked every living thing in sight, killed scores of people and kidnapped some others. They operated for several hours without any challenge. It was as if security men went on leave. Njide is still praising God for saving her husband. But she is terribly terrified and confused. Her husband, who has lived all his adult life in Kagara, is more confused. Relatives want them to leave Niger State because the attacks have become a recurring decimal. But the decision is hard for the man to take because of his business.
Many Nigerians currently face a similar challenge. They are in chains, as life has become tortuous and brutish. Some have migrated to South Africa. But every now and then, we hear of xenophobic attacks against them. Some now live in Ghana. But all you hear in that country now is: Nigeria must go! Our traders there are expected to register their business with a minimum of $1 million. Many of them cannot afford this amount of money. Their goods have been seized and their shops have remained shut since God knows when. They have reportedly been suffering this type of hardship since 2007.
You see what we have reduced ourselves to? In the 1980s, we were shouting that Ghana must go. Today, the reverse is the case. We are supposed to be the Giant of Africa. I am not sure we are qualified to even be the Giant of West Africa now. It is so sad.
Ours has become an example of irresponsible, irresponsive and insensitive leadership. It appears we are cursed. Despite our frontline religious and prayerful inclination, we have continued to retrogress.
COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the country and the entire world. Many have lost their jobs. Some now receive half salaries. Even those doing business are not making as much returns as they used to. Amid this state of affairs, responsive governments consider the plight of the people. They give palliatives. They reduce the cost of doing business and cut down on the cost of governance. That is what the responsive leadership in Ghana has done. That is what other responsive governments have done.
But here, what we have seen is a hike in electricity tariff and fuel price. This came in quick succession. In June, fuel price rose from N121.50 to N123.50 per litre. In July, it was from N140.80 to N143.80 per litre. In August, it was between N148 and N150 and between N158 and N162 per litre this September. We have been told that there might be a further increase if the price of crude oil increased. No empathy! No consultation! The body language of the powers that be seems to be, “You can go to hell and remain there if you wish!”
Of course, we are already in hell. But even in that hell, we have been pushed to the wall. In Osogbo, the people have dropped their docility. They went to the streets to protest the turn of events last Friday. Some human rights and civil society groups are threatening fire and brimstone. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are threatening to call out the masses. Even senators plan to protest and hold emergency session.
Surprisingly, a coalition of northern groups, last Friday, joined in lambasting the present government. According to the group, the masses have tolerated the present administration for too long and “the administration’s audacious impunity climaxed with hikes in fuel pump prices from an initial N87 to N151.50k per litre; electricity tariff from N22 to N66 (per kilowatt-hour); and Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5 per cent from 5 per cent.”
It called for unconditional reversal of the price hike or it would “put the public on the alert for a possible prolonged nationwide resistance in the likely event of government opting to grandstand.”
Before this present government came to power in 2015, the culture of protest was alive. In January 2012, there was a nationwide protest tagged, #OccupyNigeria. It was against the then President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerians were angry that his government increased the price of fuel from N65 to N141 per litre. The government was eventually forced to reduce the price to N97 per litre. Even President Muhammadu Buhari once led one of such protests against the government of Jonathan.
We live in a world of ironies, hypocrisy and fake promises. In 2015, one of Buhari’s campaign billboards read, “For electricity, affordable kerosene and security: Vote Buhari, Osinbajo.” To get our votes, the President literally promised to give us fish. Today, he has ended up giving us scorpions.
The questions are: Are the hikes in the prices of essential commodities and high unemployment rate part of how he intends to revamp the economy? Is the increase in the price of 50kg bag of rice from below N12,000 to about N25,000 included among the dividends of democracy? Does the current exchange rate, which hovers between N380 official rate and N470 per dollar, justify the promise to reduce naira rate against the dollar? Was the exchange rate not about N197 to $1 a day before this government assumed power in 2015? Do the killings and kidnappings in Niger, Borno, Katsina, Kaduna and many others show any seriousness about tackling insecurity? And do the entrenchment of nepotism and mediocrity in public service and the sliding negative corruption perception index indicate that we are serious about fighting corruption?
We are in for a rough ride. Things will get worse. They will lump greater part of the blame on COVID-19. But we don’t need to despair. We don’t need to cry. Eternal vigilance should be the watchword. We will continue to call government’s attention to its primary duty: welfare and security of citizens. Until that is done, we cannot lay claim to making any significant progress as a nation.
Re: Needless ethno-religious fury over el-Rufai
Please know that banditry, terrorism and ethnic pogrom have become all components of the Jihad. It is a complex mix drawn from a bizarre interpretation of religion. Unfortunately, this ideology has high and privileged support: political, intellectual, powerful, wealthy and demonic sponsorship. It is war without end! The governor of Benue State has proffered part of the solution – arm yourself and fight back. Remember General TY Danjuma said that government is colluding. Who is the northern governor that is a Boko Haram commander?
– Col. R.N. Oputa, Rtd., Owerri, Imo State, +234 803 320 6191
Gov. Nasir el-Rufai and former president Obasanjo are names that hallmark human rights abuses and disobedience to court orders. Ordinarily, the NBA – a body that prides itself in promoting the rule of law – goofed by inviting both men to pollute the Bar. The so-called NNBA also mismanaged their agitation. Why the particular interest in el-Rufai? When the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, was politically hunted out of office for the same reason which his accusers (politicians) are guilty of (non-declaration of assets),where were the promoters of the NNBA? What is the unspoken reason of the NNBA ‘annexing’ itself to the Kaduna State Governor’s Office or promoting the political interest of a non-lawyer? Let the NNBA be put on notice that their attempt to ‘Northernise’ the Bar is dead on arrival, their followership is non-existent and only on the newspaper pages. The NBA remains one united and indivisible family that is nationally recognised and led by Olumide Akpata Esq.
– Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470
Casmir, the experience of being invited to a public function involving top class cerebrals as a main speaker only to be disinvited would leave a bitter taste down the throat of the victim and his sympathizers. There are psychological, mental and emotional consequences for such disingenuous act on the victim. When a presumably noble body like the NBA does this, it is very difficult to comprehend and believe that it was not premeditated and deliberately done to shame el-Rufai.
– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
Dear Casmir, El- Rufai has been known for impunity over the years. As Minister for FCT he was rumoured to have said “Abuja is not for the poor”. No modern state was founded without humanists. There’s nothing wrong with professional groups going ahead to act as watch dog to leaders.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Casmir, Nigeria is a country where some people believe that they own it. The Northern Muslim elites have not been fair to this country. They have seen Nigeria as a place under their influence and everything is seen from ethnic and religious angle. For Nigeria to attain any reasonable development, it must be restructured so that each state can have people of similar mind and culture as ingredients for rapid development.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Casmir, crisis such as the one seen in southern Kaduna only persists if the government of the day is not sincere in putting a lasting solution to it. Lasting peace could only be achieved and maintained only if it is established on the platter of justice.
– Idongesit Inyang, Uyo, +2348084318845.
The senate once barred el-Rufai saying he was unfit to hold public office.
– Amobi Agubuzu, +2348063202873
My blame goes to Nigeria Bar Association for inviting governor of Kaduna state to deliver speech at their conference when they fully know his antecedents.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
I am well pleased on your concern over perennial challenges in this land. Please, remain blessed.
– Anonymous, +2348037408332