IT ALL looks like we are handling hot potatoes now in Nigeria. Everything economic and political presents scary prospect. The pictures painted by current state of the economy or pulsations of contemporary partisan politics are gory and somewhat hopeless. Realistically, our prospects are at best, unclear and blurry.
We are overwhelmed by unenticing events like a baffled bunch of folks, like sitting in a live show where there are about a hundred swirling sharp swords – left to right, up to down – and a clueless infant steps out to wade through the knives. We behold the helpless to step into danger. We yell our hands off. Grow goose pimples, yet we cannot help rescue the minor.
Want, fear and shock have taken everyone of us but we sense more danger that we cannot stop, like the tot biding to walk into the dangerous spin of blades.
Nigeria is not just in a mire of overwhelming troubles, she is clearly about to be consumed by them. There are troubles in various frontiers and some mischief makers are busy, creating more. It is such that daily, one bad emerge to overtake the previous day’s headache.
Currently, the political front is being rocked by events around political party congresses and primaries ahead the emergence of a new government on May 29, 2023. About 40 aspirants, and still counting have expressed their intention to contest as presidential candidates in the general election.
Hundreds of equally zestful politicians are in the race for gubernatorial, and legislative vacancies across country via the same polls. The outcome is a land abuzz in high-voltage politicking and its attendant social communication hot air. The politics is imbued with such tension that many are already dropping ‘dead’ in high blood pressure before the elections come to kill or keep them.
In the economy, things are worse. Prices of items, from food to services are rising to the sky. The situation is so bad that it takes courage to bargain in even retail markets. The cost of basic food items is on such a steady rise that daily prices change. Basic items such as petrol, diesel, cooking gas, kerosene let alone staple foods like garri, rice, yam, maize, beans and others are becoming increasingly unaffordable.
Similarly, services are becoming very difficult to procure. Added to this, is the challenge in transportation. Cost of air travel has hit the roof even as operators of local airlines still complain of exorbitant cost of running their business and still threaten nationwide shutdown. In education, the universities are closed as academic and non-academic staff remains on a work action that may still last till August or beyond.
The telecommunications sector is also quaking with operators insisting on implementing price hikes.
In power sector, distribution companies (DISCOS) still drum their intention to raise tariffs and electricity consumption charges even when their services have been abysmal, if not worse.
In foreign exchange, Nigeria’s currency keeps dropping shamefully in value against the US dollar, pounds sterling and other major global currencies. Worse, notwithstanding the naira’s rapid drop in value, salaries remain static. Most, paid workers in Nigeria have no commensurate, if at all, increment in their emoluments. Periodical payments for public services and other entitlements remain what they were before the coming of bad days yet daily, every need of the ordinary man and his family requires higher payment while the bargain value of his pay package drops rapidly.
Indeed, it looks like the Nigerians of this generation are not only dogged and resilient since nothing beats or keeps them down being indomitable they do not seem tone. They are real phoenix.
They hardly die like the fabled magic bird, even when they are beaten to death by whatever torture of life; they rise from the ashes of their remains and to begin another life of struggles. Even things that would kill any person elsewhere never drop the ordinary Nigerian. You may hear and feel him lament of the hardship, but you would not miss his ability to derive fun, even if social media parody from the development.
Worst of it is the masochism of Nigerians who seem not only keen at laughing at themselves even when they are sinking but somewhat, actively contributing to their pains. Often the masochistic tendency of Nigerians displayed with good measures of ego, want-to-belong and desire to be among those who extort and punish the commoners. Give him just an opportunity of authority or social recognition and you will notice his manners and insensitivity to the general suffrage across country.
A good example is in the current disastrous situation of insecurity across country where ordinary people make life terrible, brutish and extremely short for fellow disgruntled Nigerian. In aggravation of an already bad situation, the same ordinary man and woman who bear the brunt of the wickedness of the criminals, harbour and protect them from the law, in their homes and communities.
It would come across as ironical to imagine that the ordinary man or woman who is punished by the vagaries of living in Nigeria of current era will be the one shielding most of the bandits who torment the land but it is true. Even when urged with incentives to offer information that would help save him from the danger, like the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo did to ndi Anambra in the campaign against insecurity, people still show cold feet to the ‘see something, say something’ campaign.
Inquiries over how people had made use of the toll free Anambra State security alert telephone numbers: 07039896429 and 09017280990, just like being in a discussion of the active citizenship initiative in the streets leave one with a feeling that there are people who opt to live the lie that they need not do anything because, anything about their safety, security or insecurity is solely government’s business.
They tout the view that attacks by terrorists and bandits are totally against government not the people. Even when they know victims of such attacks, they still opt to delude themselves and convince the undiscerning around them not to blow the cover of the criminals in their neighbourhood.
This kind of destabilising docility, if not arrant mischief or pure collusion with killers and arsonists, is not only noticeable in Anambra and South-Eastern States where a newly-found reign of terror is raging currently, it is an uncanny collaboration of victims with their tormentors that had, over two decades, sustained terrorism in the northern parts of Nigeria.
Nigerians also like to diminish or demolish their lamentations about poverty in very peculiar ways. For instance, in this period of hue and cry of hardship, the ruling political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) unabashedly, announced the cost of an expression of interest for presidential aspirants at one hundred million naira (N100,000,000). So far, about two dozen persons have purchased the forms without complaints.
In the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the cost of similar forms is equally huge and benumbing although lesser than APC’s. About a dozen and half persons have bought the forms easily. Worrisome, is that the world is told that it is the same ‘Ordinary Nigerians’ who complain of hard times that reportedly purchased the costly forms for the political aspirants, and in corroboration, we behold ordinary persons on television, displaying the forms as they procure it for the aspirants.
Who would believe we are in hardship when within a couple of days; we can raise a hundred million for a parchment that does not guarantee the holder the presidency eventually?
But most curious issue in this surprising era of money rain politics is that never in the history of Nigeria’s politics had the land been so divided, tensed and unsure of its survival of the next general election.
Yet, this is a country whose elders once sat together, at the risk of their lives during military rule, to draw a roadmap for peace through rotation of presidency and vital offices across country.
Now that the plan is about to yield fruit as it culminates to its last turn in the first phase, the wisdom that held Nigeria together is being abandoned and tension bursts from every corner. It is sad that it is threatening to consume us but more terrible that we know the cause of the trouble yet would rather it destroys our land than heed the wise counsel.
Similarly, we talk and talk about the myriad of problems rattling Nigeria. One year to a new presidency, the election campaigns are simmering. We do not behold platforms where the populace are engaging politicians and their parties on issues of the economy, security, technology, health, education, infrastructure issues. Rather, all we hear is nativity, ethnicity, religion and how much money, who has to spend.
Are we really serious or even sure of our priorities here?