NOTHING reveals the heart’s intents better than expressed words. So, it is not coincidental that while some countries tag their support for their citizens in the combat against the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown a stimulus package, the Nigerian government refers to it as a palliative.
For the records, there is a world of difference between a palliative and a stimulus. According to dictionary.cambridge.org, a palliative is something that makes a problem seem less serious but does not solve the problem or make it disappear. On the other hand, a stimulus, according to the same dictionary, is something that causes growth or activity.
So, it is clear that while the Nigerian government has no intention of solving the problem of poverty and inadequacy in the country but rather wants a perpetuation of the regime of hardship, the American government is determined to spirit its people off anguish and lack. This is why while the best the Nigerian government can offer is N20,000 to one million vulnerable households on the national social register, the United States government gave every American taxpayer who is not a millionaire a cheque of $1,200 as part of its stimulus package.
While many of the one million beneficiaries of the Nigerian government’s palliatives are still waiting and praying that the money will get to them and not disappear into thin air, over 90 million qualified Americans have already received their stimulus package. While what Nigeria plans to give is barely enough to see the beneficiaries through two weeks, what each recipient of the American government’s stimulus package gets is enough to tide them over the lockdown period and help them bounce back to real life post-COVID-19. Even now, the American Congress is contemplating monthly payments of at least $2,000 for at least six months for those who are 16 years and above making less than $130,000 per year.
As it is in the United States of America, so it is in the United Kingdom, where the government pays those who lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19 80 per cent of their wages while also providing food items to many of the citizens. That is also the situation in Australia where the government pays small businesses to keep their workers in employment and makes payment to those on government benefits. In Germany, the government raised $55 billion for small businesses and gives each self-employed person $16,225 to keep them afloat beyond the badgering of the pandemic. All of these countries are bent on giving their citizens enough for them to have a decent life, not something to perpetuate their poverty.
To underscore the determination of the Nigerian government to keep the vast majority of the citizens below the poverty line, the federal government sent 1,800 bags of rice to many of the states, including Lagos with as many as 20 million citizens. Pray, how will 1,800 bags of rice be shared among 20 million citizens? At the end of the day some of them may just be fortunate enough to get a grain or two of the rice.
Another proof that the Nigerian government is not serious about solving any problem but just wants to keep up the appearance of addressing the issue is its failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers. The government wants this category of Nigerians to attend to suspected COVID-19 patients, yet it has failed to provide them with the basic requirement to function in their role. As a consequence of the government’s patent irresponsibility, the number of health workers infected with COVID-19 rose from 40 to 113 in one week.
But Nigeria’s experience with palliatives is not a recent development. As a nation, the government’s understanding of leadership is anchored on provision of palliatives. The Nigerian government does not solve problems, it merely offers palliatives. The government’s agenda is to keep the people barely alive, not to thrive. This is why while China has been able to take over 300million of her citizens out of poverty over a period of 30 years, the Nigerian government has tripled the population of the poor in 40 years with the country eventually becoming the global headquarters of poverty.
Nigerian government has no intention of solving the nation’s healthcare problem that is why over the years, health facilities in the country have degenerated from clinics to consulting rooms and eventually departure rooms. This is why infant and maternal mortality rates in the county rank among the highest in the world. On the other hand, those in government jet out of the country at the onset of a flu, until COVID-19 forced every country to shut its air space.
The government has no plan to offer qualitative education; hence school pupils are kept in ramshackle buildings and curricular remain the same over a period of 30 years. The world is changing, market realities are shifting, yet the education system in the country keeps producing fresh graduates whose skills the market does not need. This has resulted in unemployment rate and its attendant consequences spiking in recent times.
The leaders need to know that Nigerians do not need palliatives, what is required now is stimulus. The citizens need stimulus to believe in their fatherland, they need stimulus to contribute to its progress and they need stimulus to become more productive. When Nigerian leaders stimulate the citizens to become committed to the Nigerian project, the country would be transformed into a world power. But can much be expected from whom little is bequeathed?
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