By Sulaiman Salawudeen
Whatever has turned the hearts of Nigerian leaders against citizens and country this spectacularly seems overtly, even overly, set to drive home certainties concerning some hellish Eternity. With prices hitting the sky-tops – corralling horrifyingly scandalous section of the populace into the fringes of survival, with virtual collapse of barest infrastructural essentials that prop life into meaning across fronts, with jaw-dropping criminality securing subliminal, but quite obvious, endorsements of a fantastically, even serially, rudderless and profligate leadership, and with governance deliquescing into one shameful confusion, what additional evidence does one need to admit that that eternal damnation – the ecclesiastical threat of an afterlife of discomfort for wrongful indulgents – has been finally, even if prematurely, freight forwarded to Nigeria?
The duality symphony in life’s varied shapes seems to valorise intimations about crematory eternity as one of either fates to succeed humans’ earthly tenure, apparent, if logical, counterpoise of heavenly America/Europe/Canada/Australia/Japan against the interminably burning hell on earth that is the Nigeria anomaly. If Norway has life expectancy of 83 years, Japan 85, Australia 81, Canada 83, let Nigeria parade 55, even as a constellation of errors makes it arguable it must be 20 points less! SOS once dropped a fable borne upon the experience of Nigerians with their leaders, noting on Judgment Day, God himself would be disinclined from committing them to another hellfire, once they display the country’s flag amongst a multitude of humanity returning from a pre-existence journey to rouse God’s consciousness they already served out a lifetime of similar sentence whence they came!
Factually, a country where a handful has perfected official schemes to perpetrate mind-numbing heists, where extra-judicial killings, as much by uniformed officials as by barefaced bandits, have assumed horrific banality, frequently claiming lives in thousand turns, merits no less description. However, balanced against grinding want is obscene abundance which the political class often unconscionably flaunt at such wonted instances including marriage ceremonies, birthday/naming events, even housewarmings, where psychotic merchants of retrogression spray wads of everyone’s wealth in misguided appreciation of celebrators and praise-singers. Leftovers of stolen wealth that have not been freighted into coded accounts across the seas must be applied to build/buy filling stations, hotels/relaxation joints, on partying, procuring psychedelic autos, or globetrotting jamborees!
Amidst multiple ills signposting abdication of responsibility at topmost levels of authority is trademark dumbness on their part which worsens whole malady to the heavens. Imagine signals official pump price/litre of petrol is being planned for a thousand Naira! Is the fault in our stars or ourselves? Who did we actually wrong as citizens and what is the nature and measure of the wrong to deserve a penalty the nature of which must make someone doubt the existence of another hell somewhere, someday! Ever before the bubble of uncontrollable inflation burst upon Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, its leaders had similarly lied the situation was under control and affairs conducted with the fear of God! Venezuela, once prosperous South American enclave, no longer has a currency useful for whatever commercial dealings anywhere, whether local or international, except as toiletries and plaything for children, on account of its inflation rate now measured in the thousands! Imagine what a month earning of an average Nigerian public servant can buy just 20 years ago and what such can buy today, even as salary increments have been all ruse! Who says this country’s problem is any less than 99 per cent leadership?
Long, long before the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced its weeks old, but yet indefinite, shutdown of learning across the country’s federal tertiary institutions, staggering number of concerns had been on strike! Sanity has fled the economy, with many businesses already collapsed under the weight of inflation and consequent rising input costs!
Those still in production are the few who, given nature of their products, are managing to shift the incidence of perpetually shooting costs upon the final consumer! Where is the health in the health sector when it is reported that well over 100 consultants across various medical specialities officially left the country in the last two years alone? As at 2020, Nigeria reportedly had a doctor-patient ratio of 1:2,753, as against 1:400/600 recommended by WHO, and that, within same period, nearly 88 per cent of medical doctors had sought work opportunities abroad! A little closer survey has shown electricity generation has shortened into less than 4000, out of 12,522 megawatts installed capacity, despite/upon staggering commitments running into trillions of naira. Where are the motor-able roads in Nigeria? Water for many communities has remained a rare treasure: a sachet of barely half a litre now goes for N20! The list of absent this, absent that seems fearfully endless!
Quite apparently, the tenure of a national/state lawmaker, commissioner, minister, and other similar elective/appointive sinecures, has so far proven the equivalent of an earthquake in Nuweiba, Egypt, measuring just 7.2 on the Richter Scale; that of state governors, to be modest, equates a combination of Egypt’s Nuweiba quake, Myanmar’s landslides and America’s Hurricane Katrina. But the evil the country has reaped from the president’s office alone is equaled only by the Indonesian 2004 tsunami in Sumatra (230,000 dead/trillion-dollars economic losses); in Japan (18,000 dead/billion-dollars economic losses); and in Portugal, Morocco and Spain (60,000 dead/ trillion-dollars economic losses). Each of these had rubbished ordinary measurements on Richter. To cumulate effects of misguided leaderships across the tiers since Nigeria’s independence is to draw parallels with Noah’s-age cataclysm compressed into only the Nigerian space! From independence till date, about 50 trillion dollars have been reported officially stolen from Nigeria by practitioners of politics. But, factoring grand thefts which have always been foisted upon this misfortunate entity, it must be clear a minimum double that sum must have been pilfered into points where it has served/been serving interests only patently personal.
Obviously, so far, Nigeria seems utterly unprepared to accommodate Plato’s prescription for unification of the philosopher and the king in single individuals! Kings here, comprising all politics-aided appointments – given infinite latitude to operate by the whim – would rather not choose philosophy! Perverse irresponsibility and extreme acquisitiveness, often captured by those who know more than anyone else as mere teething-stage misdemeanours the country will outgrow with time, have today overrun the polity, so much that indefeasible freedoms of the generality get routinely jettisoned behind a façade of schemes that catapult so-called executives to the zenith of wealth and comfort in a jiffy upon assumption of/while in offices, while wheeling the generality down blatant straits. Indeed, preference for continence and egalitarian acts when gluttonous hedonism seems easier choice are an unusual grace met more often in religious books and speeches/conducts of old time hermits, rather than hard realities of contemporary governance!
If governance has ceaselessly refused Nigerians the goodies, and elections have never assured them elevation, what is the need to joy and jump at 2023, even as those who have made Nigeria subject of derision have remained studiously in charge to dispense services as-usual? As things stand today, whichever direction you turn, upon whatever you advert your gaze, tears of sorrow must well up in your eyes for sheer carcass that has been made of an otherwise stupendously blessed nation now turned victim of merciless, depredatory rapes of satyr overlords. The search for a philosopher-king to institute needful reverses will remain elusive so long as discharging sanity in governance is unenforceable by unflagging bureaucratic rivets. Bill Clinton might have let loose his amorous aspect, stricken by the lure of Angel Monica Lewinsky; but he never could have similarly let loose upon the wealth of America. The Watergate scandal became soon exposed to consume Richard Nixon, apparently owing to this intrinsic transparency built into same country’s public administration.
For governance to promote inalienable essence of living, remedy a country as much from physical darkness via ever-failing electricity grids, as from others imposed by misperforming superintendents, structures/institutions must be set-up/strengthened towards halting whole horde of untoward deceits among the political class. That which cannot be offered voluntarily as necessary service must be exacted by rule of force! Roads/bridges can be constructed, electricity supply improved, hospitals upgraded/fortified, and refineries turned round, but such must never interfere with projects for genuine redemption of thoroughly fallen/pauperised Nigerians. It is time to arrest this pretence from government houses and the assemblies, and 2023 election must be applied to achieve just this, lest the country goes down the precipice of FULL-SCALE REVOLUTION which already looms too fearfully!
Salawudeen, writer/freelance journalist, writes via email@example.com