Have Nigerians Become Janitors of Shadowland?

Recently, Macrotrends, The Premier Research Platform for Long Term Investors gave the current life expectancy for people Nigeria in 2021 as 55.12 years. This indicates a 0.57% increase from 2020. The study also highlighted that while the life expectancy for Nigeria in 2020 was 54.81 years, a 0.58% increase from 2019, that of 2019 was 54.49 years which shows a 0.58% increase from 2018. The life expectancy of any nation touches on security of lives and livelihoods as well as general welfare of the people.

The reader would recall how many ordinary Nigerians literally starved to contribute money to buy ticket for General Muhammadu Buhari to run for President. When he eventually defeated the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, the nation was agoged with wild celebration for an Abraham Lincoln who would take Nigeria to paradise. Many Nigerians trekked to show solidarity with the emancipator of the poor. On several occasions, he cried to demonstrate his love for poor citizens whom he vowed to liberate from the shackles of poverty.

Upon assumption of office on May 29, 2015, he pledged to concentrate on the fight against corruption, provision of security and revamping the economy. It is six years now and the county is on the verge of collapse. What has suddenly happened to the President’s passion for the poor? Where are his lofty promises on housing and reforms in the area of improving rural agriculture and emancipating the entire citizenry whom he once loved like the apple of his eye?

On the fight against corruption, the government has not recorded much success. This is partly due to perceived politicization of the anti-corruption fight and the alleged double standards by President Buhari in failing to investigate his close allies.  In 2019 when Buhari was on his second term in office, Transparency International reported that Nigeria has dropped from 146 to 149 on its corruption perceptions index. To make matters worse, the former Chairman of President’s party, Adams Oshiomole publicly stated that defectors from opposition parties to the governing party would have their “Sins forgiven.” With this statement, is the fight against corruption not way out in the woods?

In the area of security, the prevalence of ungoverned spaces is mass-producing non-state actors who are wielding enormous power in the underworld. From commercial kidnapping to armed banditry, agitation by separatists and insurgency, the nation’s security structure is shaken to its foundation. With attack on military formations, sporadic abductions and various cases of armed robbery, the nation seems to be on the road to Mogadishu. The general situation of insecurity is impinging on the well-being of the nation and its citizenry.

The economy which is the lifeblood of every nation has been bleeding. No thanks to visionless and premature economic policies, the government has had to swallow its vomit after discovering that blocking the nation’s borders did not yet results. Perhaps after being overfed with the forbidden fruit of “foreign rice” those in authority reopened the borders for the anawim to once again relish the commodity – but at what price? Policy somersault plus inability to woo investors and revamp Nigeria Railway Corporation, Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Nigerian Airways have put the nation’s economy in limbo. The saying “Social and economic development can only thrive in an atmosphere of peace” makes meaning here. No foreign investor would like to invest their money in a volatile environment.

Sadly, there are other sectors that are also groping in the dark. For example, the agricultural sector; insecurity has become the bane of the sector. According to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, increasing conflicts and large-scale displacements are limiting agricultural labor activities such as dry season harvest and household purchasing power. Without adequate security in farmlands, we are heading for food scarcity. Also, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations listed outdated land tenure system, low level of irrigation development, high cost of farm inputs like fertilizer as well as limited adoption of research findings and technologies as factors responsible for poor performances in the agric sector.

The health sector has not fared well too. Without doubt, factors such as political instability, corruption, limited institutional capacity have been blamed for the moribund health sector in Nigeria. Experts think that an unstable economy is a major factor responsible for the poor development of health services in Nigeria. Before the advent of COVID-19, while the citizens could not access ordinary Paracetamol in public hospitals, the elite were hopping abroad for medical tourism. The President is the worst culprit in this regard. The masses are left to fend for themselves in all matters relating to health.

Government has also not been able to score high in the area of providing other social amenities like building good hospitals and schools as well as providing constant electricity, good roads and pipe bone water for the generality of the rural populace. While government at the centre does not have the sole blame, the type of central government we operate apparently absolves state-governors from culpability. This being said, governors must take decisive steps to provide infrastructure for the rural populace.

In functional democracies, citizens enjoy the dividends of democracy in exchange for their votes. The social contract between the electorates and those in public office is meant for nation-building. Expectedly, those who aspire to the exalted position of President must make the welfare of the masses a creed. Anything short of this, like the recent Twitter-ban, amounts to breach of trust. With, barely two years to go, state-actors should realize that is high time they took the fight against corruption, ending infractions of security and revamping the economy are seriously. Nigerians must never be treated like mere janitors who are eternally doomed to shadowland. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.


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