I begin today’s discourse from the title which am sure would catch the attention of many readers; Credit for the title goes to Nsikak Essien, former editor of the defunct National Concord newspaper. One of the reasons reading is very important is you pick so many good things along the “road”. These include ideas, words, captions, writing styles, strategies for managing of people and events. I was privileged to be a keynote speaker for the Faculty of Social Sciences, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State few weeks ago. One good point I left them was the strong advice to read valuable materials, no matter how lengthy. I told them great lessons are hidden in written materials. I warned them about plagiarism, that is taking people’s works and ideas without attribution.
It is a serious misdemeanour in developed settings, because people go to jail for upward of five years and above. In our clime it is the vogue, especially on social media. I had wanted to run with the title, “Tyranny in the land” for today’s outing but the Nsikak version made me realize my choice was limited, it would cover impunity and impervious disposition to citizens’ outcry but it will leave out other aspects of leadership failure which are combining to make life hellish for the majority of our citizens and taking us almost to the precipice of combustion.
Employment figures have soared beyond acceptable limits. This is a fact, not mere hearsay or expression to undo any one group. Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, a federal government agency put the unemployment figures at t33% percent of an estimated two hundred million citizens. Young people within the 24-37 age bracket make up 37 per cent of the unemployment figure. This is government figure which the majority are convinced doesn’t reflect the reality on ground. From popular street perspective, over 150 million Nigerians may not have jobs. Out of that figure more than half of those regarded as engaged are not gainfully employed. Meaning they are working yet far from from stepping above poverty line. They can barely cater for themselves.
In respect of unemployment, that is the glim picture. Jobs are not available, yet families make babies in the traditional way of high numbers. The government and the leadership class never spare little time to give thought to the development. It is as if it is of no significance yet it is an issue at root of proper development. Productivity, lack of it, hunger and insecurity are tied to levels of unemployment. Today, everybody is amazed that bandits are not just many but very daring. There activities are unnerving everyone and pulling hard on the very foundation of our country. Everyone is lamenting but no one including those in power appear certain what the causes are. Yet the answer is right there with us: leadership ineptitude. The factors have been there but we pretend they are no issues, even when things boil over, leadership response calls to question our humanity. Terrorists invaded our federal capital, stormed the main prison and released their detained colleagues. The government behaved as if nothing terrible happened.
The best reaction shown by the government was a visit to the scene by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was on his way out of the country, to attend a seminar organised by a small unit of the United Nations. Import of what happened wasn’t very clear to him and the top echelon of his administration – that some officers of the state lost their lives in the incident was of no significance to those whose responsibility it was to ensure such affront on state authority didnt happen in the first instance. Life just continued. Till today not one of the felons has been arrested neither have security agents been able to discover their location, which is suspected to be in a forest not far from the heart of the seat of federal power. This is the irony. It is indeed very intriguing. Destroy deterrence and consequences, hoodlums and barbarians become emboldened. We see this in the Abuja scenario, where from attacking the prison, the insurgents are rearing to take over the seat of power with fatal attacks on soldiers from the elite Brigade of Guards Battalion, whose officers and soldiers protect the president.
In some sane climes the federal government will collapse, it is either the head of government resigns as propitiation for outright dereliction of responsibility or the structures around power rise on behalf of the people to ask him to quit. The other one would be for specific officers to take responsibility for lapses and show it by voluntarily vacating office. Where they fail, government pushes them out as deterrence. None of these has happened. In fact, it doesn›t happen in our country, we have a perverted political culture we think is okay and yet the situation moves from precarious to nasty. It is giving motivation to miscreants and encouraging further acts of perfidy. Schools in the federal capital have been hurriedly sent on vacation before due date for fear of terrorist attacks. Imagine if those who invaded Abuja were arrested and their motives unmasked. Think for once if some officers lost their jobs because of the incident. Criminals will think twice before taking to crime. More importantly officers of state would be more serious with their work than is currently the case.
Criminals can›t be dancing, celebrating «victories», meeting, negotiating with people, releasing captives near our cities, having the luxury of dancing and making videos and sending them out and all our leaders do is throw hands up in the air and tell us the criminals are invisible. It smacks of state complicity, pure and simple.
From the other angle, economy is going south with attendant suffocation on the citizenry, debt servicing figures have gone higher than income, that alone means collapse and bankruptcy and bigger danger. We are denying but one can only tell a blind man there is no oil in the soup but not pepper or salt; when he tastes the soup, he will find out. We are experiencing economic fallouts and it is not a story worth retelling. It is a case of deep anguish. Worthlessness of the national currency. On macro level, airlines are closing shop, this would have been good news so our officials can take a stroll on the bad roads but for the fact it will drastically affect businesses and productive. The issue is that the government is visionless. Where there is no vision, management obviously must be poor or mediocre. It is our lot currently. We live with the effects; prices of basic items are spiralling beyond reach, cost of petrol for instance has gone very high, it will still go far higher. The war in Ukraine has nothing to do with it. In fact the conflict ought to be a blessing, we are in a mess because contrary to a philosophy of hanging on no matter the situation and doing the right things, our governments including the one currently in power always walk the path of least resistance. They run on adhoc arrangements, leaving substances to chase shadows. It is almost always as if we have no government in place at all. Were it to be we had a government worth the name, things would have turned out differently. We would known for instance that population growth without corresponding provisions is dangerous. Providing solutions for the trend would have occupied our focus and thinking. Instead of giving away scarce funds to rudimentary farmers, we would think in terms of institutional agriculture practice with value chain. Human capital development would receive quality attention and the thought of university students staying at home for upwards of six months would been a taboo.
We would by now have built very functional new refineries so that even when prices rise in the international market we have enough supplies and still enjoy foreign cash inflow. We would rebuild the security arm, equip and act in a more immediate and decisive manner to all incidences of deviance. We did appreciate the place of consultation in building a nation of plural people. On unity a society stands to run and win. As it is currently we are far, way off the real track. We are sleepwalking into disaster. True!