Can you imagine a 61 year old ‘child’, still a toddler, not yet weaned and using diaper? Diaper is worn by infants to catch excrement and hold urine. Also called napkin or nappy. That 61 year old ‘child’ is Nigeria. She refuses to grow and remains a ‘child’ despite her age which falls in the category of the aged. A 61 year old is old enough to have children and grandchildren. From the perspective of political economy, at 61,Nigeria aught to have grown to a developed economy in the category of the First World Countries.
But here she finds herself—a third world country. I hope and pray Nigeria will not be the first country to be classified Fourth World Country. Yet there are people who still believe this is our best moment since 1999. They believe Nigeria is still not a failed state despite the glaring facts to the contrary.
Nevertheless, there is consensus that Nigeria is a third world country. Is that where we should be? Is that the appropriate niche we should carve for ourselves? Oh! Pardon me! It is the niche our political gladiators carved for us.
Nigeria is still a ‘child’ because there is hardly anything she does by herself. Her ban on rice importation, for example, to encourage local production is an evidence that she cannot do anything by herself. What ordinarily should be a commendable policy becomes harbinger of agonizingly unbearable hardship. Local rice is prohibitively exorbitant. To grow common rice which is affordable, she cannot. Don’t even talk of beans—the only source of protein for the common people. It is far expensive than rice. Yet all is well.
What about cooking gas? It is very unfortunate. A salary earner in Nigeria finds himself in a serious dilemma. He either fills his gas cylinder or buys some muds of rice. It is difficult to strike balance. If he fills his gas cylinder, no food to buy. If he buys muds of rice, no gas cylinder to fill. How food gets to his table has now become a miracle. The greatest achievement of average Nigerians —any day in Nigeria—is their ability to feed once in a day. What a pity!
Yet they say naira is better and stronger than dollar. “Though a dollar is exchanged for 580 naira”, they argued,“the latter can provide a day meal while the former cannot”. One is fatigued of this kind of argument. So, I will not argue. I will only ask these economists on the payroll of the government-of-the-day to explain why Nigerians are migrating—en-masse—to the United States and other countries to earn dollars. Why is the reverse not the case? Are they saying naira is better now than it was in the 70s? I leave them to their conscience—their inner conscience.
Nigeria is still a ‘toddler’ in the sense that any attempt by her to make a step forward results to one or two steps backward. She slumps many times on her trajectory to socio-economic development as a toddler slumps in an attempt to walk. But kudos to a toddler who finally walked after few days of several attempts. Alas! Nigeria is yet to walk after sixty one years. If Nigeria had fixed her refineries, diversified her economy and saved for the raining day, she would have been able to walk. The corruption in the oil sector is calamitous and unbearably stinking. How do we objectively contend that the BIG Minister of Petroleum is not culpable? If he is not; who is?
Nigeria @ 61is still a sucking baby; not yet weaned. Thus, she has many mothers. She is still being breastfed by other countries—by Britain who initially colonised her and others who are on the threshold of colonizing her. Just like a hungry but yet-to-be-weaned-child cries to its mother for breast, Nigeria cries to her mother, China; her mummy, America; and her grandma, World Bank for loan. She cries to Mrs Germany for electricity and to Miss Malaysia for graduate studies. Just few days ago, she (Nigeria) BEGS Queen of Netherlands for funds. What a shame! Netherlands is less than Yobe State in terms of land mass and its population is less than Lagos’. I wish these were not facts but fictions. I cry for my country.
She was/is being breastfed with loans such that her debt profile skyrocketed unprecedentedly. Her total debt stock hits 28.63trn in Q1, 2020 (March). Or do you think it is COVID-19? No! This was before it. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s debt profile stood at approximately N12.12 trillion as at June 2015 barely a month after the APC took over from PDP. As at June 2020 according to DMO, it is N31.01trn. the Senate alarmed that the debt will rise to N33trn if President MuhammaduBuhari got approval for the $22.7 billion foreign loan request. The projection is right—as at March 31, 2021, it is 33.107 trillion. The Present government is about to triple the debt banqueted to it by the corrupt PDP government in 2015. Worst still, the loan has not, in any perceivable way, bettered the lots of Nigerians. Rather, the masses experience hardship after hardship on daily basis.
Nigeria still wears diaper. Surprising!? But that it is. Corruption stinks. It is like a baby’s excreta covered or held with diaper. Our looted moneys are being held in foreign accounts because they stink. The foreign banks are like diapers worn by Nigerian looters. It is when the diapers burst, due to the volume of the excreta, that we smell the stench. You recall Abacha loot, though Malami said it is ‘asset’. Whichever word you choose, it was the diaper that burst; we wouldn’t have known.
Let’s turn to the President’s speech. Who deleted the missing part? I don’t know. But something is missing. That is my guess. I might be wrong. For I don’t think the President would be eager to investigate high-profile financiers behind Sunday Adeyemo and NnamdiKanu but not the financiers of those chasing his own people (northerners) to their early graves in the North (his region).
Who deleted the financiers of terrorism in the North from the President’s speech? I was thinking their names will be mentioned in the speech to shock Nigerians. Are these allegations of parochialism and ethnic jingoism real? Are we criminalizing terrorism in the South and legalizing it in the North? Is the President contented with the harrowing insecurity in the North?Perhaps the President read the speech parrot fashion, without scrutinizing the contents.
If we assume Nnamdi and Igboho were actually terrorizing their region, people of the South should be grateful to the President. They should be grateful for the ongoing investigations to reveal the financiers of terrorism in their region. For those of us in the North, terrorism is not just an assumption; it is real. Why the financiers of terrorism in the North are not exposed is esoteric—only known to those in government.
Despite what Nigeria has become since the last six years, the President’s speech (not the President) says; “No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years…” Is there any need for this kind of speech? Anyway, it is a rite in Nigeria. I think this is the penultimate speech. All other things being equal, the ultimate speech by President MuhammaduBuhari shall be next year. Happy ‘INDEPENDENCE.’
This article was edited and updatedto capture the current grotesque reality. It was first published last year under the title “Nigeria @ 60: Facts and Fallacies in the president’s Speech” by THE WILL, a California based newspaper in the USA.