The comedy called Nigeria

A few years ago, I told a friend that Nigeria was a wonderful and funny place. I told him anytime God wanted to watch comedy, He would tune in on Nigeria 101 on the satellite for the best of laughs; not just serious comedic and clowning laughs but those laughs that are as a result of the fact that you cannot cry. He sees the horrors of Syria, the wars of militias across to Taliban everywhere, as well as groups from India, Libya, Southern America and even a tiny bit of Nigeria, but nothing is bitterly tragicomedic like what Nigeria provides.

There were times when in cities you could count the number of cars, like we knew the car owners in University of Jos, or the number of car owners in Ado Ekiti, then the 1972 Udoji salary awards of the Gowon era in the days too much money and not knowing how to spend it. Then everyone suddenly could somehow afford a ‘Tokunbo’ car and many cities sprawled with low and high cost buildings.

We saw the coming of the new age politicians, the wardrobe and furniture allowances crew. We saw the monetization and advent of the hallelujah boys. Today, it is the billionaire stealing babies. But let’s all hold our breath for a moment. Has anyone been jailed for the $356m failed railway contract for the rehabilitation of Lot 3 of the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s eastern line of Calabar to Maiduguri?

How about Halliburton, or the numerous power frauds (my error, I mean power projects)? How about the various erosion, and road fraud, roads that have been under construction for more than 10 years and yet no end in sight? the defense budget stealing in the name of fighting insurgents and insurgency? Is it the Manbila project or the Air Nigeria Mungo Park Nigeria Limited arrangement that surprised real witches that actually fly?

We came up with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and sister organization, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to possibly complement the fraud units of the police and others, yet millions and billions of public treasury money continue to be stolen.

Ten years and counting, the Niger River Bridge is still under construction, alongside various river-dredging frauds. With the exception of the Abuja Stadium for the COGA in 2003 and all the housing estate, what big project have we started from beginning to end and which still remains functional? Even the COGA Games were riddled with the BMW cars scam and other laughable scandals.

So, why wont the devil laugh at us, when we are again being entertained by Akpabio, the untouchable touched woman, Commander Wike, the Police, and the  Niger Delta development Commission? That is after we just finished Magu and co Plc. So the devil not only trembled, but also laughed as the NDDC under an Interim Management Committee squandered N81.5 for just irrelevancies that included going to the UK for graduations during COVID-19 lockdown and spending hundreds of millions of naira on condolence visits. Every other year, Abacha, extends his goodwill to his irresponsible crybabies and countrymen by vomiting millions in foreign currencies to us.

Whether N-power, trader money or that of the last government run by the Peoples Democratic Party, whether NAPEP, PAP or Custard, it’s laughable when we remember that state where Zimbabwean farmers were brought to deceive the people. I have deliberately left out the criminal ventures masterminded by state governors past and present or the ministers who started the bribe for budgets, we still die on the roads that cost billions to construct.

So the devil laughs, because despite all the billions, these days trillions, the National Hospital is a mess and a scam; all the teaching hospitals and specialist ones are no better. The nation of Nigeria, giant of Africa and most populous black nation on earth, has no world standard hospital and still depends on India, Germany and everywhere for healthcare.

The devil keeps laughing when he’s at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and comjpares it with other airports (although after the last Chinese treatment it looked presentable). Despite the  the trillions, yet, we don’t have any world-class stadium. The uncommon ground in Uyo was near one but that’s sad for the nation of Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Okocha and Daniel Amokachi.

Despite having produced greats like Soyinka, Achebe and giants in the fields of science, medicine and arts, our schools are not in top 1000.in the world. If the Academic Staff Union of Universities is not fighting the government, the lecturers are subject to other forms of mutually engaged harassment.

It’s 20 years plus in our own contraption defined democracy and we have not been able to build one solid oil refinery. Meanwhile, the Kaduna refinery spent N24 billion in direct costs to record zero revenue and an operating loss of N64 billion for 2018, as against N2 billion naira revenue and N112 billion losses in 2017. A breakdown of the direct costs and administrative expenses showed that it incurred N447.7 million in training expenses, training for what? Security expenses of N230 million, what are they securing? Communication expenses of N37.3 million, and consultancy fees of N843 million that term that every Nigerian institution applies when they want to steal.

For the Warri Refining Company, the audited financial statement showed that the company earned N1.98 billion as revenue while it incurred N12.74 billion as cost of sales, resulting in a gross loss of N10.57 billion and an operating loss of N45.39 billion. Just imagine! Meanwhile, a breakdown of the payments made to directors at the Kaduna Refinery showed that total employee cost was put at N23 billion in 2018, compared to N27 billion in 2017. The payments include salaries and wages, death benefit, administrative expenses, among others.

Aside that, details showed that in 2018, there were a total of 32 higher-paid employees of the company, other than directors, whose works were done in Nigeria. The remuneration for this set of employees ranges from those who earned between N100, 000 and N1 million and those who earned N15 million and above. Earlier in 2017, the number of this category of staff was put at 1,022, representing about 340 per cent difference in both years. For the directors’ remuneration for 2018, excluding pension contributions and certain other benefits, the figure was put at N109 million, as against N249 million in 2017. Also, the highest-paid director earned N33 million in 2018, as against N27 million in 2017.

Let us assume, hypothetically, that we are only a 100 million Nigerians as against the so much touted 200 million or thereabout, with the exception of few factories and manufacturing outfits in the likes of Onitsha, Kano, Lagos, and let me add oil firms, where is the company that employs more than the federal government that just runs a redundant outfit? We don’t have any world class outfit; we have world class and Nigerian certified corruption that stains the hard work, talent and skills of many honest Nigerians. We are flogged by a nation that has more political billionaires than we have millionaire business people.  No great hospital. No great school, no great facility that brings pride to the heart considering the investment.

Let me end in this manner, while we are celebrating a 120km surface standard gauge rail line at the end of the 21st century, speaking via his tweet, HH Sheikh Mohammed @HHShkmohd revealed, “we announced 47 months ago about the extension of the Dubai Metro red line at the cost of 11 billion dirhams. Today (July 8) we are launching our project with 50 trains, 7 stations, 125,000 passengers daily 12,00 engineers and technicians and 80million hours of work on time as promised. We say what we do, and do what we say. This is Dubai.” Can Nigeria do what it says it will do for once? Or would we allow the devil to keep laughing at us?

 

  • Prince Dickson, the team lead at The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre), wrote via pcdbooks@yahoo.com

 

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