It is confirmed that Nigerians are happy, expressively joyous, and expansively celebratory people. Just the week past, the whole World marked the World Happiness Day. This time around, and perhaps, for the first time that one can recollect, only Mauritius managed to pushed Nigeria to the second spot as the “Happiest People”. Perhaps, the spiral multiplier effects of the long years of bad governance and the struggling economy are finally getting at the hearts of the people.
All the essential factors that aid happiness are down, laying prostrate, actually. Partying, Owambe mentality, free funds and free launch, all are gradually vanishing from the table. And the legitimate incomes are nothing near what can sustain anyone for a whole month. Yet, the local currency, naira, is in free fall at the international exchange market. Oddly, a naira now exchange for some 480 naira. But a friend, who just returned from Maryland, United States was arguing with me a couple of days ago. He launched to statistics to back up his arguments. He insisted that no where in US can one eat any meal at that, with one USD. But here in Lagos, same one dollar once changed to naira can conveniently buy a decent full plate of amala and gbegiri with ogunfe meat. I agreed, not that I was convinced, but simply because, I want to quickly wind down the unnecessary argument. I had so much reservations with his claims on housing, transportation, power and telephony ET Al.
I lamented the flight of the proverbial Common Sense which behavioural Scientists called Number Six. But sadly, the most uncommon common sense has died in Nigeria, died not on flight, but has died already, while we were searching for it here. The main organs, conscience and truth were said to have suffered some serious haemorrhage. And so Mr. Common sense bled to death. Painfully, but not pitiable. For we are a nation without truth and any shred of conscience.
A nation lacking in truth and conscience will budget a whopping 1.5 billion US dollars to carry out a nebulous and repetitious Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) on a Refinery that is laying comatose already. One can recollect that since the ugly days of late General Sani Abacha, as Head of State, Nigeria has been spending blindly on Turn Around Maintenance of these refineries without success. So far, money burnt repairing these dead refineries are enough to build four new ones. Yet we emotionally held to the dying octopus. Truth is lacking in all these dealings and so is conscience. The four refineries the country is holding on to at present cannot produce enough fuel for Warri township or Port Harcourt where they are located. What a waste!
I must admit here that I stole, not plagiarise please, this headline from an edition of London Times and dug up by an acerbic critique of the governance by Mr. Segun Oyegbami in his book entitled: “Reversing the Rot in Nigeria- The way forward”. It is disheartening and instructive to note at the same time that some 45 or so Nigerians of different shades, education, character and religion can sit down and decided to burn 1.5 billion US dollars on an invisible project. This is clearly antithetical to good tenets of Number Six, the Mr. Common sense. But the Mr. Common sense has long died in Nigeria. So anything can happen. From unbelievable to the ludicrous.
As we speak, this same government that has found it so difficult to tackle the insane policy of keeping in place Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) is already preparing the citizenry’s minds for an eventual increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly called petrol. Now a litre may sell for 234 naira or even more, if the release pushed out to the press by the Satanic people managing the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is to be believed. Yet, government apologists would want us believe that a US dollar equivalent in Nigeria will buy you a decent meal. Unemployment figures keep rising. Yearly hundreds of thousands young graduates are pushed into the already saturated labour market. Neither the proverbial White Collar jobs, nor the private sector is capable of employing anyone again. Government too, the largest employers of labour is weak and burdened by huge wage bills. The youths of the land are more confused and disoriented than ever. Yet, some of our leaders, who are supposed to engage in critical creative strategizing, stay glued to their seat, from night to night, like an Obafemi Awolowo of old, seeking and proffering solutions to these myriads of problems facing the country are unfortunately, indolently galivanting around, junketing stealthy, like nocturnal beings, politicking and pushing unnecessary egoistic political and inordinate ambition. The nation suffers, so are the legion of the unemployed employable youths of the land. Conscience is dead, so is the ally, truth. And sadly, no one seem to be taken responsibility for the funeral. Not even the church, nor the mosque. Coronet Inquest will implicate these institutions for complicities in the death of the unfortunate man. They were supposed to be the last pillar of support and help, but sadly, they abandon Mr. Common sense to the hands of idiots who murder it.
This morning, I am mourning the death of Mr. Common sense. No church, no mosque can lay claim at any point of helping the poor man in his dying days. Every level of societal stratification, every institutional leadership, have been muddled up. All now live in utter deception and outright lying.
While the youths of other lands are trooping to sporting activities to escape the crushing jaws of unemployment. This is working wonderfully in countries like Brazil, Argentina outside Europe. But here, it is a disheartening failure. Our footballers will always claim age that will surprise their fathers. A man finishing high school education in 1990 will filled 1996 as his date of birth. Yet we expect growth, we expect results. They will come occasionally. Spurious and phyric victories. But do they last? Never. It doesn’t simply fall like this.
Now we rationalize every issue with imbecilic religious submission: It is will of God. Yes, it is will of God, but do God will this self-created suffering and destruction for Nigerians, as a people?
Maintaining an institution like PEF is simply insane. No Federal System survive maintaining an odious institution like this. One is still, unable to decipher why must petroleum products sell at the same rate all over the country? These products berthed in Apapa, Lagos State. This Apapa, in Lagos State, to Maiduguri, Bornu State is 1,532.5 kilometres. Apapa to Sokoto in Sokoto State is 987.8 kilometres. Same Apapa to Calabar, in Cross Rivers State is 781.1 kilometres, while Ado Ekiti, in Ekiti to Apapa, Lagos is 312.2 kilometres. How can one reasonably justified selling these petroleum products in all these locations at the same price? Yet an idiotic management of the petroleum corporation is telling the citizenry a couple of days ago that a whopping 120 billion naira is paid monthly as subsidy. Why still keep the odious anti-South Petroleum Equalization Fund? If there is any truth in what the government has been telling the citizenry about the deregulation of the petroleum sector, why still keeping PEF? Why still mouthing subsidy? So sad, Mr. Common sense is dead. And so are truth and conscience.
Let me revert to that cerebral Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah here: “The beautiful ones are not yet born”. Not the smooth talking, nor the coarse cracking one deserve our collective trust any longer. Seem rapist have taken over critical organs of the governmental institutions. Let these gladiators now trying to scavenge on our collective blood to further their ambition go and learn from history. If they do and are well tutored, they will quickly tuck their tails behind their hind legs for now. The sky is cloudy. And this is ominous. The ocean they intend to swim is crocodile infested. No sentiment here. This is no time to deceive ourselves. Any ambition now is delusional. The soul of the country is badly haemorrhaging. The country is suffering from life threatening Issues and we all seem to believe: All is well. It is the will of God. The explosion coming may be unimaginably mitigatable.
The ancient Greeks, before categorizing the people on the Planet Earth into three must have done a lot of study and spiritual thinking. To them one is either an idiot, or a tribesman or a citizen. Idiot here was not the abusive or insulting use we now put it to. An idiot will never do well anywhere. Not in government alone. Also in his household, among peers and in corporate world. He is bound to misuse common wealth, misapply common sense and generally a disorganized person. A tribesman is always particular about his person. Be it is kinsman, his friend or religion person. He will isolate and alienate any other not having any primordial link with him. But a citizen is seen as the archetypal perfect example of a patriotic and progressive person. He thinks constantly about the welfare of others. With this, one can see we have largely elected idiots to position of authority and control of our common wealth. From Independence, the baton has been passing from idiot to another. And at some point to a tribesman. Never has a citizen gotten the opportunity to govern this badly raped and abused nation. The other day, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) claimed in a most alarming report that over 50 trillion US dollars have been taking out illegally from Nigeria’s Treasury since Independent by our different idiotic leaders. The report , as garrulous and ludicrous, as it may sound may not be too far from the truth, after all. That is the level of idiotic stealing by government officials.
Yet Nigerians still pecked faintly, at the top of the table of the most happiness people, only just displaced by Mauritius as the most happy country in the world.
Those castigating the rebellious among the citizenry, the likes of Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu and co, clearly loose sight of the fact that the incongruous political and economic system we run create room for the emergence of these types of rebellious gangs. A system where political enforcers are better treated than professors or industrialists. A system based on the whims and caprices of the political lords and his enforcers. Those who propped up Sunday Igboho may soon regret ever empowering him. Let the egging and goading continue. The Tiger will turn against the carer. The hues and cries of some cyber idiots should matter a little. The shameless masquerading of aspirants and aspirations at this point is an invitation to tragedy and calamity. They will soon realize that their political gods will reach out to a Sunday Igboho faster than he will ever call them when the push comes to shove. The turning of Street miscreants and *agbero* to Lords in South West of Nigeria is a pointer here.
Mr. Common sense died because idiots running various moral institutions and facilities could offer no help to help it. They instead, by their various shenanigans, acts of omission or commission, hasten the poor man’s death. Truth and conscience cannot cohabit with an idiot. All these were murdered in cold blood in Nigeria.
Now no matter the level of infrastructural development carried out by the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), no one will notice them. No one will acknowledge them. To many, they simply do not exist. What exist to these traumatized people is the excruciating hunger and poverty ravaging the land.
Basic thinking now, if we are to be honest to ourselves for once. How can the people see these massive infrastructural development? The 8.7billion US dollars Lagos-Ibadan rail line is almost completed. There are several world class stations and sub-stations built along the corridors with it. Also, the multi-billion naira Lagos-Ibadan expressway is almost done with. Yet the multiplier effects of these massive projects were never felt along the corridors. Petty traders, artisans, food hawkers suppose to key in and benefits. No not in our Nigeria setting. The people only see the workmen and heavy duty equipment mowing the grounds and laying surfaces. Nothing more. If anyone now come up and dismiss these projects as no project, one really cannot blame him. The projects never addressed the immediate needs of the local populace. To some, it is just an elitist undertakings, simple.
Very, the sixth edition of the much vilified BBNaija will come beaming from our DSTV decoders. This senseless show of immorality comes with a handsome 90 million naira prize money. Never has a first class graduate of science, technology or medical course benefit from a reward of note in our country. Yet we reward handsomely irresponsible flaunting of nudity and bestiality. Only an idiot reward enterprise such as BBNaija and ignore budding scientists. The medical doctors here are gallantly fighting the Corona virus pandemic. In the last weeks, the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC)’s figure have been sub one hundred per day. Yet no will notice their gallantry. It is not in our collective common sense to reward such. But to make an overnight stars of BBNaija participants is no problem. No need to look deeper into why morale of professional are at their lowest ebb.
Yes, petrol, that common product we use to generate alternative power, power to give ourselves water, income and do practically everything, may soon start selling for 234 or so naira. At the same time, teachers in private primary and secondary schools still earn as low as 15 thousand naira a month. Lawyers still earn 25,000, while some bank marketers are on 30,000 a month. The man regaling me of how an equivalent of one US dollar can fetch me a good meal is not ready to take this take home in the Almighty dollars equivalent. All he is interested in is the volume of naira the single one dollar note will fetch him. One need not weep for the future of our dear country. Political imbalance, structural incongruity, the oft cry of marginalization will only cause rumpus in the polity. They can not cause an eruption. But the lack of a viable economic template to run the country and manage her vast resources will definitely ground the country, sooner than later. The eruption from this will consume every pillar holding up the country. The present system of running the country only allow individual in government, especially at state level, to dig his hands into the state’s treasury and turn it into his personal fiefdom. No common sense, no truth, no conscience. These stealing’s have been ongoing unabated since Independent, no stopping it. We never think of what positive use to put such mammoth sums. Only to assuage our ego and feel good nature.
Our inability to manage our resources effectively is already telling seriously on our collective psyche. This is one beautiful society where professionals cannot feed, where scientists cannot think, but idiots who find themselves in the corridors of power now control so much wealth. where nepotism has been in St I tut ionized. Where collective welfare is nobody’s business. Such senselessness will not profit anyone. Neither the state that loses these funds, nor the idiots that stole them. But this is Nigeria. A country of anything goes. Here we live by lying to ourselves. We all live in the world of deceit, more deceit and still more deceit. Indeed, we can safely bid Mr. Common Sense a lugubrious final Rest in Peace in our country.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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