Who will stop the slide?

Nigeria is a hotbed of bad news. Very few things are cheering in the country across all sectors.

The economy is sick; hence unemployment rate is escalating. Job opportunities are petering out on a daily basis as the economy takes terrifying bashing from poor management and desultory policies. The perfunctory approach of those in government to very serious economic issues has resulted in the death of many companies, the failing of quite a number and the insolvency of others. The Petroleum Industry Bill has been a tenant at the National Assembly for over 16 years, thus stalling the optimization of the petroleum industry, which is the nation’s cash cow. The 2020 Finance Act tactically cremated the local automobile industry as it opened up Nigeria for unfettered import of fully built up new and used automobiles from other countries. When the economy is defanged through impetuous decisions thus making businesses dysfunctional, how will the majority of the citizens not be reduced to beggars, bikers and bankrupts?

This needs to stop. How many more companies need to go down before those running the economy wake up to their responsibility and realize that the economy determines the wellbeing of a nation?

Insecurity has become a national problem in Nigeria. Terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and cult wars which were very few and far between just a few years ago have become ubiquitous. Nigerians are no longer safe in their own country. Travelling from one part of the country to another has become a nightmare. People have to do special prayers just to travel from Kaduna to Abuja or from Akure to Lagos because everyone is a potential victim of the new wave of criminality in Nigeria. Alex Badeh, a former Chief of Air Staff who later became the Chief of Defence Staff, was murdered by gunmen along Abuja-Keffi road. In May 2020, a traditional ruler, Alhaji Atiku Maidabino, the Hakimin Garin Yantumaki, in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State, was killed by bandits. In November 2020, the Oluifon of Ifon in Ondo State, Oba Adegoke Adebusi, was shot dead by gunmen at Elegbeka, along Owo-Ifon Road.

Herdsmen have continued to sack communities, destroy farmlands, rape women, turn wives to widows and children to orphans without any deliberate steps being taken to stop them. Inter-ethnic clashes have gone up an octave without any respite in sight.

The worst part of the insecurity situation is the reckless comments of those in leadership positions in the country. A couple of days ago, Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, said herders had no choice but to carry guns to protect their flock “because the society and the government are not protecting them.” A few days after, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.), advised Nigerians to defend themselves against bandits.

Now, how would criminality decline if the dominant thinking among the ruling elite is that those the rest of the society perceives as perpetrating criminality are actually right? How would the elusive peace become a reality in the country when those who are supposed to engender it have surrendered to criminality and rather than fight it are abdicating their responsibility to the populace?

Corruption has become a common denominator in Nigeria. It is no longer about who is corrupt, it is more about who is not corrupt and that can be likened to seeking out a virgin in a maternity ward. Here, corruption has become the rule, not the exception. It is assumed that only fools shun corruption in Nigeria.

Corruption is the main business of the ruling class; it is also the major preoccupation of the hoi polloi. The nation’s leaders assume they occupy public office for private gains. They create crevices that facilitate diversion of resources from government coffers to themselves and their cronies.  Almost all activities of those in leadership in the country are geared towards self-enrichment. The same contracts are awarded several times without the projects being executed. The nation’s refineries are not functioning optimally as a result of corruption and the country is forced to depend on imported fuel.

It is corruption that killed the Nigeria Airways and made most of the roads in the country impassable. Corruption supervised the interment of the education system to the extent that those who can afford it now send their children to schools abroad while the poor make do with whatever the local schools can offer. Corruption is also responsible for the lackluster health services in the country. Unfortunately, those responsible for the destruction of the health facilities in the country jet out to other countries for medical attention at the slightest discomfort.

How do we tame the corruption beast? If all of us are trying to put an end to what nobody wants to stop, how can we all ever have what none of us wants?

From all indications, the ship of the Nigerian state is headed for the rocks but Nigerians will never admit that. We keep deceiving ourselves that Nigeria always pulls back from the brink at the last moment. True, we have been lucky in times past but even luck has its breaking point. Unless deliberate steps are taken to stop the drift, the way the country is currently going, it may not be able to pull back from the brink this time.

A lesson from Greece

Greece is the birthplace of democracy. It is also reputed as the cradle of Western civilization. Greece was, at a point, the land of influence and affluence. But what has become of Greece? What has happened to its influence and affluence? What has happened to its power and precedents? If Greece can become a byword for failure, so can Nigeria. If Greece can become a thin gummy, so can Nigeria! The time to stop the slide is now. But who will stop the slide?

 

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