Needlessly, commentators on national issues in recent months have been strangely categorised into two camps; Wailers and Hailers. And that categorisation has denied us the chance of getting a full grasp of the issues or getting to the roots of the discourse.
The needless categorisations have equally denied us, most times, of tapping the richness of a number of discussions on national issues. In a country like Nigeria, do people need to take governments to task? That should be undeniable to the sincere mind. Do the people need to hail governments? That should be sparingly done; especially going by the penchant of governments to find ways to deny the execution of capital components of the Budget, which at the end of the day, remains the only area the generality of the people can feel the government.
By these categories, some people appear to be telling us the government is either always right or wrong depending on the side of the coin you are. But life in reality is not that simplistic. And only the unrealistic would seek to justify the contrary.
In truth, rather than help in surmounting the challenges of daily life, such distractive columns on one hand give the people in government a shield from effective scrutiny, while they are allowed to go about with a false sense of persecution. Thus, rather than spend their time in office seeking solutions to emerging problems, they listen to the hailers, and justify their failures with expendable excuses.
In our today’s experience, it is of no use soaking yourself in unhelpful arguments and classifications of Wailers and Hailers. Why? The reality out there is that the government needs to map the way out of widespread quagmire. Whichever area you look at, there appears a sense of doom and gloom. The series of attempts to keep heaping blames on the previous administrations have started sounding like broken records.
The incumbent government has said its focus is on the corruption war. It has clamped a number of suspects into detentions, while some are faced with charges in the courts. We have heard that the stealing of the immediate past era was monumental and anyone who attempts to say otherwise risks being labelled among the “corruption is fighting back” crew. But I do hold the belief that looting of government resources has remained with us since independence.
While President Muhammadu Buhari was out of power, he was once quoted as saying that the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha did not steal. But today, 16 years after the restart of democracy and 17 years after Abacha died in office, the current government is set to receive a $300 million booty, part of the celebrated Abacha loot. Millions of US dollars had been repatriated during the era of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan on the same subject.
Though Abacha has been singled out as the culprit of that era, we cannot say that the late Head of State was the only one responsible for lootings in that five year period. Before Abacha there were looters as well. What this points to is that corruption and the war against it must have a long lifespan. Corruption war is good for the future of the country, but we cannot afford to keep sights off the emerging crimes in our daily lives and without a holistic battle against all the ills of the society, the possibility is there that the country would remain in the doldrums. For instance, if all the suspected looters are in jail and you still have robbers, kidnappers, and petty thieves on the prowl, the common man, government people as well as the uncommon people remain endangered.
In my view, the war against corruption being championed by the President cannot succeed without an omnibus battle against the ancillaries of the corruption scourge. Today, armed robbery is becoming a part of life, especially at the lower rungs of the society. The roads across the country have returned to the unsafe state they were many years back. In Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria, the satellite towns have become dens of armed robbers. Airport Road in Abuja and the Kuwa/Zuba roads have become dens of kidnappers and ‘one chance’ criminals. On a daily basis, you hear reports from victims of taxi robbers and attacks on estates and satellite towns. Boarding a taxi in Abuja is an assignment in itself these days. A commuter will first ask the driver to open the front and back seat and then the boot to ascertain no one is hidden in there.
A young lawyer recently narrated her experience after taking a taxi from Wuse market. She was picked by the taxi during the rush hour but did not know someone was hiding at the back seat. Soon, the vehicle diverted to the dark corners of National Mosque and Ecumenical Centre and the hidden man showed up with gun. The girl was robbed and dumped. Instances like this are widespread. The stories from the states are not palatable. The police today appear to come with the dangerous feeling that armed robbery is part of life. If it is becoming dangerous for the common man to move about in the Federal Capital, how do we assure investors to come here? How do we assure people of life in the hinterlands? A lot many, young and old are turning out frustrating experiences daily.