Nigeria: Where we have everything but lack everything

Nigeria my country, where everything is in abundance! It’s a country where natural gifts in abundance become redundant due to rifts among the leaders, a country where the profusion of natural deposit leads to confusion among economic planners. It’s baffling that we have everything in this country, but we still lack everything! We have crude oil naturally deposited in our land, for instance, but we cannot refine it, as our refineries are moribund and redundant. We have the sea with edible aquatic natural deposits, but we lack the zeal and vision to fish them out of the sea and convert them to our use. We have everything, but we lack everything! Our population should be our strength, but it is rather powerless. Our leaders continue to impoverish the masses to make them rich, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. So, instead of being or strength, our population now constitutes a threat.

The insincerity of our leaders has now resulted in insecurity in the land. The things nature blessed this country with are in abundance. But by reason of their lack of patriotism, the free gifts lead to rifts among the leaders, thus the sons of meat sellers eat without pieces of meat. The truth is Nigerians are hungry, and that’s why many of them are angry. Leaders in this country are lucky for one thing: Nigerians are not only angry with them, they ignorantly are angrier with themselves. So, there’s pervasiveness of man’s inhumanity to man among Nigerians. Bizarrely, humans are being killed with impunity and sold for as low as N5,000 naira! However, considering our natural endowments, no Nigerian should be hungry; they may not have much money (not everybody will) but they shouldn’t lack basic food to eat, especially in the same country where the children of the rich would often not have appetite, having been saturated with aroma of delicious meals.

Currently, students in Nigerian universities are at home due to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). This is the second strike in less than two years, and the 16th since the Fourth Republic began in 1999. This shows our children are more at home idle than in school. Why? Simply because our government did not accede to the demands of ASUU. So, the scenario could be likened to a fight between two elephants, where the grass (Nigerian students in this case) underneath bear the brunt. Our education sector is today a charade of monumental disgrace. Globally, we are laughed at because we are not serious about the things that should matter to us. Across many states in the country, we are afflicted by the lack of drive in our governors to give education its pride of place. Primary school education is no longer what it used to be. Many public primary schools are so dilapidated that even domestic animals should be raised there. Our public secondary schools are no different; they are afflicted on sides. It is a big shame; this is not the way to go. Nigeria’s university system is one of the worst across the globe. Succeeding governments have not given enough and shown enough in this regard. The public universities are crying for help; the sight is disdainful. How do you claim to have a university for research without functional laboratories? How do you talk about a university without recently published books in its libraries? Very sad!

Our hospitals have no doctors in the numbers that is required. This is ruinous; this is not how a nation should grow. I am yet to see a serious country that trivializes its health sector. Nigeria has not taken its health sector seriously. This is a source of concern and worry. We must do something about this. Every year, our trained doctors relocate to climes where they can get what they deserve. Yet, our government is not bothered. We run hospitals without affordable drugs for the teeming poor masses that make up our demography. We run our hospitals without electricity! How did we get to this point? Things should get better, not worse. We have all it takes to be a formidable country in the comity of nations. Yet we lack all that should make us more humans than less human. We must give ourselves the dignity that we deserve as a nation.

We must equally wake up our moribund industries scattered all over the country. We are blessed with natural resources, aside oil, and make the necessary investments in making these industries grow. We import almost all that we consume and no nation develops by such preference. We must begin to consume what we produce and this must be intentional. This is the way to go. Our local industries must be given the life that they deserve and start running with all the support that governments at all levels can muster. This is the time to do this.

In Nigeria, we have everything, but we suffer from priority misplacement. For instance, professors in Nigerian universities earn between N381,695 and N501,680, while a senator in Nigeria receives the sum of N750,000 naira per month as basic salary plus allowances of N13.5 million naira per month, making N14.25 million naira. So, the monthly take-home pay of a senator in Nigeria can pay the salaries of at least 37 professors in a month! And the politicians still give these poor teachers reasons to embark on strikes incessantly.

 

Olorede is communication research scholar, public affairs analyst, and poet.


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