ON a few occasions in the past different administrations, including the present one, had threatened to publish the names of those working against the progress of Nigeria. It is either they are trying to name the sponsors of Boko Haram or those behind the looting of the nation’s economy. Each of these threats had always ended in mere rhetoric. So, what I have done with this piece is to carefully identify those behind our current woes and the agony they have caused our people.
Any administration serious about building a sustainable democratic culture should take my suggestions very seriously. What I have done this week is a continuation of the search for practical solutions to the problems besetting our dear country, so that we will have a clearer picture of the challenges that lie ahead.
It cannot be contested that the numerous social, economic and political problems that have constituted an impediment to national development were or are caused by some of our fellow citizens who have allowed their greed and inordinate ambition to becloud their sense of reasoning. Often we have associated the causes of our woes with invisible and infernal forces.
Agreed evil forces exist, which torment innocent people, but as far as I am concerned the problems of our nation are caused by seen forces and by Nigerians themselves. Succinctly put: our problems are internal and not external.
Exchange rate of the naira to other currencies suddenly skyrocketed – selling for as much as N400 to the dollar at a point – before it started sliding pegging at N320. What else caused the sudden jump if not the greed of some Nigerian businessmen and women? Today prices of commodities produced locally have jumped – all attributable to rise in the exchange rate of the naira to other foreign currencies.
The first set of questions every Nigerian should ask himself or herself is: Am I the real enemy of Nigeria? How far has my attitude to Nigeria adversely affected its development? These questions should be answered by every Nigerian – man or woman, boy or girl, rich or poor – to ascertain what role each of us has played individually or collectively to place Nigeria in the precarious position it has found itself.
I must confess that the idea to write this article was divinely inspired. In fact, the thought came as I was undergoing my weekly spiritual appraisal of the state of the nation. Curiously, God has always spoken to me one way or another since I started this weekly spiritual buffet in 2007. It has also helped me to unburden my conscience of any guilt and seek reconciliation with those I have knowingly and unknowingly offended.
One of the thoughts that God has always allowed to cross my mind is how to contribute positively to national development. This is why I have decided today to treat this critical issue in order to arouse the consciousness of the citizenry to strive towards excellence and national pride. For a critical observer of our national life, Nigeria’s development has been stunted by forces that are bent on destroying it. It is not arguable that there is a cabal that determines what happens in Nigeria, who gets what and which direction the pendulum should swing. This cabal has dictated the heart beats of the nation and controlled power with the brutality of a wounded lion.
Does anybody need to be told that Nigeria is in the way it is today because this cabal wanted it so? Take a look at the economy and you will see that it is skewed to favour the cabal. This killer-cabal decides what happens to the economy, what government policies should be sustained and those to be expunged. They are found at the top echelon of the bureaucracies from where they call the tune.
Were they not the same people that padded the budget for their selfish ends? What did they plan to gain if not to sabotage the present administration? What of Boko Haram? They are sponsored by some Nigerians. Now the question is: Why have these sponsors not been arrested up till date?
However, apart from the cabal there are other categories of the enemies of Nigeria. We shall look at each category as elaborately as possible to ascertain the collateral damage they have done to the life of this nation. Let me quickly point out that Nigeria has continued to exist despite the rape and pillaging that it had undergone since independence. If Nigeria were to be a human being it would have bled to death. Imagine the corruption, the stealing, the malfeasance, the profligacy that have characterised our national life. For instance, it is on record that Nigeria has made over a trillion dollars from oil since 1958 when the first oil well was discovered at Oloibiri, in today’s Bayelsa State. Yet Nigeria is classified as one of the poorest nations in the world, with per capita income at less than a dollar a day.
There are no amenities to justify this huge income from oil. There is no steady electricity, the roads are in deplorable conditions, no potable water, no security, education is in a shambles, poverty is everywhere, and our healthcare system is comatose.
There are numerous other problems, which are obvious to every Nigerian. Are they caused by spirits? They are caused by Nigerians themselves who loathe peace, progress and unity. The most notorious enemies of Nigeria are Nigerians themselves. It is from among us that all the other categories take their root. Think about this: If every Nigerian resolves today not to commit any crime against God and man, what do you think will happen? Naturally, Nigeria will breathe an air of relief and blossom and flourish. Evil thrives, because people see what is not right and shut their eyes to it. All the criminal elements that terrorise life out of the citizenry come from families and different communities in which we live, yet they move about unmolested, plying their wicked trade with impunity.
What about the pen-robbers? These are people who use their exalted positions in offices to steal public funds. They come off on the surface as good Nigerians, while deep inside they are rotten. They use their pens to manipulate figures and doctor official documents to enable them to defraud the government. This category of enemies of Nigeria constitutes at least 40% of the nation’s overall population. They are found almost in every stratum of society. Because of their domineering presence and holier-than-thou attitude they look indispensable, when, in actual sense, the nation can do without them. It is from this category of enemies that those who stole billions from the Pension Fund came. Intriguingly, some of these overnight billionaires were mere accounts clerks, and, in some extreme cases, messengers.
What about those who inflate contract prices? These enemies of Nigeria collude with contractors to inflate the prices of contracts for their selfish benefits. They care no hoot about the Public Procurement Act and other legislation, and still go ahead to do as they like. Some of them are ordinary clerks, but they own mansions in Abuja and other major cities in Nigeria. There was a recent report in the media that stated that Nigeria loses over N200 billion annually from contract inflation. This huge amount is enough to fix some of the dilapidated roads that dot our landscape. I was scandalised when I read a publication in some national dailies early this week advertising the names of companies which won the bid to supply some agricultural equipment and other machinery to an indigenous university in Nigeria. According to the publication, the names of five companies featured prominently as those that won the bid. The over 60 items on the bid list were shared among these four companies. Does it mean no other companies, other than the four, qualified?
The truth is that the workers responsible for the bidding must have leaked the bid price of each item to the four companies, otherwise there was no way only the four firms could have won the bids. This shows the level of corruption that goes on in our bidding process. Sadly, the situation is not peculiar to the university in question. It is a national canker worm that must be destroyed if we are to make any progress as a nation.
Then enter those who kill in the name of religion. These people hide under the cover of religion to maim and kill. There is an upsurge in crime across the country. Life is not worth anything to these hoodlums that have held our people virtually hostage. No state is free from insecurity, probably, except Anambra State. The situation has now been worsened by the activities of the dreaded Islamic Sect, Boko Haram. Hundreds have fallen victims to their destructive operations since 2009 when it assumed a notorious place in our national life. They have been branded as terrorists by security agencies, because of their mode of operation. There is no place that is safe any longer from the clandestine activities of the sect. The disturbing thing about Boko Haram is that the more they are attacked by security agencies the bolder and more daring they become. They, at a time, before President Buhari assumed office, virtually held the entire north hostage, threatening to extend their attacks to the South. Some have advocated dialogue as the solution to the impasse. Will it work?
In my opinion dialogue has always produced useful results, if the parties involved are honest and altruistic. I am personally disturbed about the perilous dimension the Boko Haram imbroglio has taken in recent times. This is why I advise that the government should mandate the security agencies to investigate the genesis of the sect’s latest onslaughts on the nation.
I was happy when President Buhari told his audience in Equatorial Guinea that Boko Haram had been contained. I believe him. However, we need to watch closely to see if the sporadic attacks by the sect would cease.
Nonetheless, my fear is that those fuelling insecurity may not allow the measures the government has put in place to work. This is responsible for the aggravation of the insecurity in the north east, despite the huge human and material resources it has expended.
Was it a surprise to many that the deadline given by the present administration to bring the menace of the sect to a final halt by the end of December last year has been surpassed? Government was right when it gave the earlier deadline but enemies of Nigeria worked against it.
What about smugglers and trans-border criminals? These are among the most dangerous enemies of the nation. They are deadly, callous and a big threat to the economy. Their mode of operation is bizarre and skewed to always favour them. They can, as well, kill and maim, which is why they are deadly. The most worrisome aspect of their activities is that they bring into the country substandard goods that constitute health hazards to the citizenry. Nigeria Customs Service and other trans-border security operatives have been a big pain in the neck to these sinister smugglers. Contaminated goods worth hundreds of millions are destroyed annually by the Customs, while many of the smugglers are convicted and sentenced to long years in prison. Yet these measures have failed to deter them from their nefarious activities.
Have you, the reader, ever thought about what will happen to Nigeria if you woke up one morning to hear that smugglers are no more? If this happens the nation will earn more revenue from imported goods and save the huge resources it expends annually in securing our porous borders.
I have ruminated over the harm drug-peddlers do to the economy and believe that something drastic should be done to deal with the situation. It is common knowledge that many of our youths, including adults, do illicit drugs, even as far back as their secondary school days. Cultists, the partners in crime with drug-peddlers, also do drugs. The effect of the drugs drives them into anti-social behaviours. Definitely, cultism and other such crimes thrive on the use of illicit drugs. Therefore, it will do our nation a world of good if the government could take immediate steps to deal with the menace of illicit and outlawed drugs.
I was listening to some men a week ago in Abuja arguing that Nigerian politicians were among the most corrupt in the world. I am not in a position to affirm the veracity or otherwise of this claim. For all I care, the Nigerian nation is one of the most forward-looking and development-oriented in Africa. Those who give Nigeria a bad name are those who see nothing good in others. Nigeria is a beautiful place, but wicked politicians have sucked the life out of it. The craze with which politicians pursue wealth is alarming. How many politicians came into power to serve? A majority of them are in politics to make money and seek fame. The only person that can serve well is somebody with the fear of God, love for one’s nation and eagerness to make a good name for himself. Regrettably, this is not so with the Nigerian politicians.
To be continued