Date Published: 10/21/09
NIGERIA: A PLACE WHERE A DAY AFTER BECOMES WORSE THAN THE ONE BEFORE (1) By Temple Chima Ubochi
Lead or get out of the way! (General George S. Patton)
It's easy to play the blame game, find a scapegoat. (Craig Fugate)
Unintelligent people always look for a scapegoat. (Ernest Bevin)
If we could just find out who's in charge, we could kill him. (George Carlin)
All men are made one for another: either then teach them better, or bear with them. (Marcus Aurelius)
Because of the lack of transparency, we don't know whether the commander is a scapegoat, or if he is only one of many who should be arrested. The investigation must be conducted openly for people to have confidence that powerful figures will not be protected. (Brad Adams)
Part 1 of this article would concentrate on sorting few things out. We need to clarify certain issues here, while the Part 2 would deal with the topic proper. Let me commend Ejukwa Osam for a nice write-up: http://nigeriaworld.com/articles/2009/oct/181.html . Due to demand, I would add to the discourse here later.
Lo, Yar’Adua has bowed to pressure and decided to rescind the order he gave that El-Rufai and Ribadu’s passports should not be renewed and that the duo should be denied consular services. Yar’Adua decided to make a Director-General the scapegoat by firing him, claiming that the order emanated from him (the DG). Fiery tales! Yar’Adua takes Nigerians for fools, but, only a jejune mind can believe that a DG can give that kind of order without the president's consent.
Politicians cannot be taken for their words. They always create loopholes they would use as escape routes, if something fails to go according to plan. That was what Yar’Adua did; he knew his order might back fire, so he planned in advance to feign ignorance of it once it fails to achieve its intent, so DG Imohe was toasted to cover up Yar’Adua’s track.
Unless, Yar’Adua is telling us that he’s not in-charge or in control, or that his “government” has been hijacked by unseen hands, who are actually calling the shot. Tell me how such a sensitive order could have been issued without the president’s authorization and he (Yar’Adua) still calls himself the head of the government?
“When those who have the title of shepherd play the part of wolves, heresy grows in the garden of the church”. I wonder if our president knows that every leader needs to look back once in a while to make sure he has followers.
Saharareporters.com wrote that Yar’Adua sacked DG Imohe to save face. An excerpt from the article has this:
“Analysts say Mr. Imohe may simply have been expended to help Yar'Adua save face, as it is most unlikely he would have caused such a directive to be given in the name of the highest level, without authorization. One of the ambassadors who did not want to be named told Saharareporters that when he tried confirming the source of the directive with Aso Rock, Yar'Adua told him that the duo of Ribadu and El Rufai could go and get their passports from Obama”.
Mallam EL-Rufai also said:
“I know Imohe very well. He is just the fall guy. He acted purely on instructions from the President. The first question I would like to ask is: a citizen has alleged that he was denied a new passport. As President of Nigeria, Yar’Adua should have ordered an investigation. Did he do that? Even if I was doing propaganda, did Yar’Adua make any attempt to investigate it? I pity Imohe. They have just sacrificed him for nothing. But it is a clear message to those doing Yar’Adua’s hatchet job that the man will deny them at the end of the day. At least, (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo stood by his people when he was in power. Yar’Adua will deny anybody."
The outcry over the order given by Yar’Adua (which he later claimed to be unaware of, to safe face) was so ferocious, the message from Nigerians at home and abroad against it was persistent and our effort was consistent. I thank Nigerians, most especially, those who signed the petition (against the order) we wanted to send to Yar’Adua, before he envisaged what was coming and repudiated his order. This shows what we can achieve collectively and the beginning of good things to come. From now onward, we would join hands together in fighting the evils in our land. Nigeria won’t get better if we let it be as it is now. Nigeria would‘ve been better by now, had we been uniting in condemning evils. The problem with Nigeria is that the ruling class is destabilising the people’s ability to unite against their misrule by their emphasising of the differences between the peoples of Nigeria through ethnicity/parochialism/sectionalism and religious animosity/bigotry, all for their selfish interest. But it seems the scale is falling off the people’s eyes and we’re beginning to see clearer and to understand that the ruling class gives no damn about the interest of the masses despite their false claim in that regard. Without mincing words, if we all could unite in our purpose/resolve for the good of Nigeria, if only we’re ready to come together and stand up for our rights, we could put a stop, once and for all, to the corruption, bad leadership, looting and stealing of government funds, crime etc which have stymied our development and stunted our growth as a nation.
I have now two “good” friends who always try, albeit unsucessfully, in “poking holes” in every of my articles (the last one was no exception). They claim to be the only people who love Nigeria (I’m now always waiting for a rejoinder from one or both of them). After my last article, one of them wrote me privately, accusing me of uninvestigative writings. This “good” friend went a step further and accused me and saharareporters in these words:
“Who are the Saharareporters? Are they not men and women who dwell on opinion and speculation journalism as you do? What have they reported on facts and investigation before, except on wishful thinking and speculation? They are a group of frustrated, rebellious, malicious Nigerians who never see anything good in Nigerian govt. like you. You take their reports as facts, which means, you base your writing on their reports.”
Anybody can accuse me of anything and I would take it, but, accusing saharareporters.com of uninvestigative journalism is mischievous. This “good” friend might be forgiven, may be “he’s a new man in Israel” who has no idea of what saharareporters.com stands for. Saharareporters.com is one of the most authentic news websites, anybody ignorant of this fact, may also be ignorant of the happenings in Nigeria. May be, the person cannot differentiate between empiricism and idealism.
This is what somebody wrote after saharareporters.com broke the news about the order to deny El-Rufai and Ribadu of consular services and the subsequent rescinding of the order by Yar’Adua:
“Who says these people are not feeling the heat of Sahara Reporters' 'scud missiles'? Of course, they are! Yar’Adua’s quick response to this matter confirms this. I want to thank you SR (Saharareporters) for your excellent investigative journalism. You are about the only effective watchdog Nigerians can rely upon, these days, for accurate reportage of events in Nigeria. Many thanks again. Please keep up the good work and refuse to be distracted! You have no idea how much you are contributing to the restoration of sanity in our country”.
Another Nigerian wrote: “Wow, this is a thing of relief and joy not really because of the fast response from Mr. President but because this tells me that if Nigerians (at) home and abroad would speak up against anything in Nigeria with boldness and without fear such thing been spoken against will come to an end. Therefore, this given me this sole assurance that Nigerians (at) home and abroad are gradually waking up to take their place in the affairs of our great country. As for Mr. President, this has really exposed him that he might not be the one ruling the country as he claims ignorance of this breach and trespass of the fundamental rights of these two great Nigerians who had the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart while rendering their services as Ministers. Mr President, don't you think it is time you separate the wolves from the sheep in your cabinet? Doing this I promise you will change many things for you”.
Another Nigerian also wrote: “I am not deceived and can never be deceived that Yar’Adua did not know about the first directive from the DG of NIA. Yar’Adua only fired the guy to make Nigerians believed that this government is not anti-people. I am very very sure that the fired DG must have been settled monetarily to act as if he actually gave the first directive without clearance from the presidency. This is nothing but the "Politricks" in the Nigerian Politics.”
I didn’t want to do this, but, due to the request from some of my readers and with the hope that people might learning a thing or two from it, I am compelled here, although, I would rather not go deep enough. Despite the fact that I’m a stammerer (that’s not a handicap, because I served for years in the military), I am a born teacher, what I can’t teach with words, I do by writing, so I need to bring up some puerile minds, and the lesson is on development. We all know that teachers would simplify things so that any ninny in his class would be carried along. Everybody’s entitled to his/her opinion and I do respect that. To add, it’s not a sin “not to know” and it’s not a sin to correct somebody who’s wrong, because, my people say that “it’s not only a dead person’s neck that can be “straightened” (obughi nani onye nwürüanwu ka ana edozi olü)”
Some people think that since it took some developed countries upto 200-300 years to get to their present stage, Nigeria is supposed to take such a time to be developed or that we should not harp on the evils in Nigeria, because, it has only existed for 49 years. For these people, the basic necessities of life lacking in the country have something to do with how long Nigeria has existed as an independent country. What a gibberish?
I want to tell these persons with such a mindset that their reciting of the year something was invented is out of place here, such is out of context. It didn’t just fit. Those inventions someone can readily cite, had been improved upon, they are no longer in their original state today. What those inventions were 300 years ago, was not what they were 200years, 100 years ago and today. And they would not be what they are today in the next 100 years. To bring it down the more: Because of the fact that some students graduated from the university in their 30s did not mean that every other person would graduate at that age, some graduated in their 20s. Because Gowon became head of state in his 30s, did not mean that every head of state or president must be in his 30s to lead; Obasanjo was elected president in 1999 in his late 60s while Yar’Adua found himself in that position (I wonder how) in his mid 50s. So there’s no time frame for achievement for the individual or country.
That it took a country like America hundreds of years to take care of the basic needs of its citizens, does not mean it should take Nigeria so long. No two people or countries are the same. The lesson here is that a country like USA started from nothing; it’s a land of immigrants, some of the founders of America were hardened criminals shipped from the United Kingdom to the new world due to lack of space in British prisons to hold them. United Kingdom shipped them across the Atlantic either to survive or die, because the wherewithal (money and prison facilities) to continue keeping and maintaining them weren’t there anymore. So the first Americans (safe for the Indians who are the original owners of the land) started from nothing. It might interest the reader to know that the slashing of a full cup of tea to half, was one of the salient causes of the American Revolution in 1776. But Nigeria gained independence in 1960, and in 1957 (three years before independence), Nigeria started raking in millions from crude oil sales. America, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China etc didn’t have these millions of dollars when they started as a country. Not until 1940s and 50s did oil became liquid gold and a big foreign income earner. Once, the King of Saudi Arabia was infuriated that a drill for water gave instead oil, and he asked what he would do with that. That was in the 1930s when oil was worthless. But see what oil has turned Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait into today.
When America, United Kingdom, Germany, France etc started off as nations, there weren’t many developed countries they could look up to for ideas, (role-model countries weren’t there). In the 1770s, America had only the United Kingdom to learn a thing or two from, but, the latter was and is still a dubious country that cannot teach any other country much. But in 1960, Nigeria had an array of countries to learn a thing or two from and have no reason to be in such a condition it is today. The above named developed countries did not had the kind of human and material resources Nigeria had, when each started as a country. Nigeria had and still has almost all the sought-after-mineral resources, while the developed countries such as United Kingdom had to send its citizens to other countries to go steal those minerals in the name of colonization.
The world is changing, the things of yesteryears have been improved upon, so if it took some countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a hundred years to develop, it should take countries in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, scores of years to meet up, because of the opportunity they have to learn and improve upon things which are already existing in the developed countries. Take for instance, a journey from Europe to Nigeria took almost two days in the 1950s, but, today, it takes only few hours because of the improvements in aeronautics. Even when Concorde planes were flying, they shortened the travelling hours across the Atlantic as such that a person can have his breakfast in New York, go shopping in London and still fly back to New York to have a late launch. Before, cars took more than 10 litres of petrol to go for 100 kilometres, but, today, due to improvements in the technology, new cars run 100 kilometres with about 5-7 litres of petrol. The car companies have started producing environmental friendly prototype (hybrid) vehicles that can run on water, hydrogen, gas, edible oil, solar energy as the case may be. It is only a matter of time before those hybrid prototype cars are mass produced. The point is that countries which gained independence in the 1960s should and cannot be compared with those which came into existence in the 1770s or even earlier. Look at it again this way: How our parents lived their lives have been improved upon to make life easier for us and our children would find life easier than us. The summary of the whole points is that Nigeria has no reason to be what it is today, it was supposed to be much more for its citizens than what it is today. In 1960, it had already started exporting oil, many of its citizens already had university education from world renowned universities, it had and still have, gold, tin, aluminium, bauxite, sodium including arable lands and hundreds of miles of coastline.
Take Ghana for instance, although Ghana has had its ups and downs, but, comparatively speaking, it’s almost out of the woods. We cannot compare Ghana with Nigeria now. Nigeria is supposed to be better than Ghana in all ramifications. The population of Ghana is less than that of the old Eastern Region; Ghana, until few years backs, had no oil; Nigeria offered Ghana loans and financial assistances until few years back; Ghana do not have the kind of arable lands and such an expansive coastline which Nigeria has, but, today, where is Ghana and where is Nigeria. Ghana plans to sell electricity to us, a Ghanaian official is going to assist us in our constitutional amendment process, if that would ever hold, Ghanaian universities are where parents, with the wherewithal, who want qualitative education for their children and wards, are sending same to (those who cannot afford to send them to European and North American Universities), Some companies in Nigeria are relocating to Ghana (Michelin, Continental Tires, etc are all gone), Ghana is now home to wealthy Nigerians who crave security. Instead of people condemning the corruption and lack of leadership which have been the bane of Nigeria’s development, they are exposing their callowness. What an absurdity?
Ghana today has tackled corruption and fought it to a standstill, different from what Nigeria of today has done. We learnt that two key Ministers in the current Mills administration may have to resign or suffer the ignominy of being sacked by President Mills for receiving bribes from a British Company, Mabey & Johnson Limited, in the mid-90s. The Ghanaian officials are expected to resign their positions in the Mills government once their names are made public to avoid being dismissed by President Mills who has shown that his commitment to fighting corruption will not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. The Ghanaian President even repeated his uncompromising attitude toward corruption when he warned that his government would not spare government officials, be it past or present, who would be found guilty of embezzling public funds. In Nigeria, Yar’Adua is dinning with ex-convicts and those having corruption cases hanging on their neck both nationally and internationally and is shielding them away from justice. El-Rufai said this:
“it is clear that Yar'Adua has made a Faustian bargain - to embrace corrupt people and criminalize those that are honest. Look around and take a roll call - Umaru is more comfortable surrounded by convicted felons, career criminals, smugglers, bribe-takers and dodgy lawyers. These are notorious facts that do not need an El-Rufai to state. In fact, in Yar'Adua's interview with the Guardian earlier this year, he confirmed that his relationship with these people is subsisting and more important to him than honest governance!"
What a difference from Ghana? No wonder things are moving on well over there. Their U-20 national team just won the world cup in that category and their national team has qualified for the world cup while our super eagles are hoping on miracle, instead of ability, to qualify and the chances are very remote. Ghana has conducted five successful elections in a row; Nigeria’s in darkness while Ghana has light. Nigeria has oil but no refineries, but, Ghana that just discovered oil, has a functional refinery. Is someone insinuating that it should take us 200-300 years to conduct a free and fair election in Nigeria or to replicate the election of 1993? Isn’t it funny that almost every election held in Nigeria recently (from the local government council to the presidency) ended up in court, are we not practicing “judiocracy” instead of democracy in Nigeria?
What’s somebody talking about here? Why can’t we apply the existing technologies to our advantage and use them to improve upon our lives? Must we wait 100 or 200 or 300 years before we can generate enough electricity; have motorable roads; create enabling condition for businesses to thrive; have well equipped and standard hospitals; have universities, which are not kept under lock and key more than they are opened due to lecturers’ strikes, which can produce employable graduates and which can be found in the list of the first 1000 universities in the world; produce enough food to feed ourselves; have Nigeria as an internationally respected player; elect selfless leaders who are patriotic and are committed to serve the people; fight corruption with the zeal it requires and bring all corrupt lowlifes to justice?
Where are the groundnuts, cottons, hides and skins from the north; the cocoa and kolanuts from the west; the palm oil and kernels from the east? Should we wait 100 years more to resuscitate them? Are the solid minerals which are underneath not still there, when are we going to start mining them again and diversify our economy in that process or should we wait more 100 or 200 years to do that? Are our arable lands not still there? When are we going to start cultivating them mechanically to feed ourselves? Have the seas, rivers, lakes dried up, are they not still there? When are we going to exploit their natural resources and use them to better our lives or do we need to wait more 100 years for that? We’re supposed to use what we have to get what we want and not to think that because it took some countries hundreds of years to make life meaningful for their citizens, we should go into hibernation until we’re 100 years old as a country. It must not take us that long to eliminate poverty, ignorance and disease in our country.
As I once wrote: Precisely on February 17, 1958 (about 51 years ago), the export of oil commenced for the first time in Nigeria! Nigeria exported 5,100 barrels on that first day, but, since then, millions of barrels of oil are exported daily. Nigeria has earned hundreds of billions of dollars from crude oil in fifty years; still, our Nigeria is infamously ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world today. It is estimated that more than $400 billion have been wasted through corruption, mismanagement, greed, incompetence etc and that amount, I learnt, when placed in $1 bill one on top of the other, will get to the moon 75 times. The ruling class embezzled most of the $400 billion since 1958, making oil to turn into a curse rather than a blessing for Nigeria. Poverty is not only prevalent in Nigeria today, but, is also higher now than before oil was discovered. Many Nigerians remain in poverty more than ever before. Development is stunted now more than before the export of oil in large quantity commenced. Nigeria as a leading oil exporter is not self sufficient in anything as it imports almost everything, including fuel for its domestic consumption.
Isn’t it true that 138.6 million or 92.4% (out of 150 million) Nigerians live below poverty line? The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released a damning report on the food insecurity situation and poverty level of Nigeria recently, stating that about 138.6 million Nigerians live on less than N302.00 ($2.00) per day.
Do Nigerians see or hear the man who claims to be their president? But leaders who know their onions are accessible to the people they are ruling. Just an example: the BBC News of September 14, 2009 reported that a South African woman phoned up a new anti-corruption hotline and was shocked to find herself talking to President Jacob Zuma. The woman phoned to complain that she had been ill-treated at a local magistrates' court while trying to access her late husband's pension. She was in tears as she told Mr. Zuma that she had been visiting the office since 2006 to no avail. The pair spoke for 10 minutes before she was told who she was talking to. Mr Zuma assured her that the matter would be investigated and dealt with speedily.
Has cholera not returned to claim the North? Are people not dying in their hundreds while thousands are getting infected by the disease suspected to be cholera? Isn’t it unfortunate that the government is unmindful about the deadly situation because it’s being shrouded by people with selfish interest? Didn’t we read that Abia State Local Government workers have resorted to fasting and prayer in their quest for a solution to the backlog of salary arrears owed them by 14 out of the 17 local governments in the state? Do we have to exist 100 years as an independent country to be able to pay workers their salary as and when due?
To be continued
THE THANXS IS ALL YOURS!!!