In a country of over 200 million people, with variants of language and dialects, where human and natural resources abounds in enormous quantity, there is poverty in the land. There is hunger and anger. people are suffering, the polity is sick, the nation looks tired and haggard, staggering and wobbling along without a destination in sight. Who will help us?
Please, as you read this, don’t jump to conclusion before you finish reading this piece. I am not a wailer and I hardly complain. I am one with a can do attitude that get’s going when the going get’s tough. But in the recent past, with all the happenstances happening around us, he or she who complains is only being human. Therefore, judge me not before you get to the last bit. It’s all about our farther land.
The opening line of the old Nigerian National Anthem, Nigeria We Hail Thee remains a fascinating line to me. Regularly, I sang it in my head, whenever confronted with any issue we casually laughs off as Nigerian factor. And when all other things failed to gel, one can only review happening in the country lightly along that line.
All the statistics regularly reel out by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) do not seem to count any longer. Nigeria pumps 2.4 million barrels of crude oil per day. This is aside the unaccountable cubic millions gas, either flared or recovered and sold through the NLGC, an arm of the octopus NNPC is no longer news. Whatever the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) declared as internally generated revenue is fast becoming an academic exercise. Equally so are, whatever the brave figures from other internal revenue generating agencies. All I see in our dear fatherland daily are wastage’s; sheer misspending of these humongous resources. Almost daily, often severally daily, I find it rather indecipherable, irreconcilable that so many things just won’t add up in our dear Country, Nigeria.
For the past four weeks or so, inbound international flights were either diverted to Ghana or cancelled out rightly. It was not until last Wednesday that regular flights were restored. During this period, several thousands of in and out-bound passengers, were, as it were, trapped wherever they are. Conflicting
reports gathered from the Officials at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMA), Ikeja is that the February’s harsh harmattan haze affected, or destroyed or is it non-availability of landing devices in the Airport, hence bigger planes cannot land, the smaller ones still manage to. Several passengers were trapped. The cost of this reckless maladministration can only be imagined.
Same period, I was at the old General Hospital, now called LASUTH, Ikeja to visit an elderly patient on admission. All I saw around were total replica of the MMA wastage’s! A middle-aged woman passed by my car, weeping almost hysterically. Because of the environment, the thinking was that she had just lost a dear fellow. But no! On enquiry, she narrated her frustrations. Some numbers of medical tests were prescribed for her husband. The total cost was almost a three quarter of a million naira. As an Accountant, she decided to scale the tests to three tranches. After undergoing the first tranche, she had paused for about three weeks, gotten some funds, she went do the next tranches, only to be told that the first ones she did are too old and that she must repeat them. The reality of almost four hundred thousand naira thrown down the drain is unbearable. Hence, she broke down.
The task of fixing the broken edges of the Country is foggy, just like the harmattan haze, that some say destroyed landing devices at the MMA. Though the FG, as usually expected through the Minister of Aviation, insisted that landing equipment were sufficiently bought and installed at the Airports, yet none worked in those three embarrassing weeks. Inbound flights were cancelled or diverted to Ghana. Simply frittering away millions of dollars.
Those conversant with the unending drama that is the story of air business in the country would not ruffled at the latest episode. That sector has been dogged with scandals and controversies since the early eighties. The Flying Elephant, the symbol of the defunct Nigeria Airways, do I still remember the popular ‘Air Waste!’ The entire enterprise had to be rested at the start of this civilian dispensation in 1999. Therefore, the recent razzmatazz noise from the Ministry of Aviation about its resuscitation even failed to convince the promoters of the hoarse. It simply refuse to fly.
No questions about the fact that Nigeria is blessed. More blessed than many of the Europeans and American countries that are denying our brothers and sisters entry Visas. The country is far blessed than the South Africa, whose citizens have made it a pastime slaughtering our kits and kins, out of envy and anger against our inability to harness our obvious humongous resources. Our children are now rushing to the Arabian enclaves to eke out some livings, doing menial and dirty jobs. None of these Arabian countries are more endowed than our country. We only have squandered our collected riches and laid them to waste!
We have laid to waste virtually everything imaginable. This can be seen all over the country’s landscape. The air travels sector is just but a fractional part. The huge population, conservatively over 250 million and still growing, is almost a waste. The National Planning Ministry has not been able to map out any plans to economically utilize thus huge numbers. China and India have turned the corner in this regards. While Nigeria still wallow in self-inflicted penury.
No one need to broadcast it, the hunger in the country is pervasive. It is written in almost everybody’s faces. Yet, in the midst of obvious hunger and lack, the country have, in over the past ten years, wasted over 15 billion US Dollars prosecuting the war against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North Eastern flank. The wastage’s in that axis of the country can only be imagined. Perhaps, only the Hiroshima and Nagasaki destruction’s of February and August of 1945 during the Second World War and maybe, the US destruction of Iraq in 1991 can be said to be worse than what’s happening in the North East.
While we waste our resources, there lie our roads infrastructure in a most deplorable state, our health delivery system works in fits, tertiary institutions fast collapsing. This year alone, at the close of the registration for this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, some 2.1 million prospective candidates have registered. The combined admission capacities of all the Universities, both the Federal, State and private, are not up to 750,000. What become of the floating 1.4 million? Yet, in the midst of this, the NUC has withdrawn the accreditation of Law studies from the ‘Great OAU’ among other Courses. Investigations revealed that this is due to paucity of funds to stock the Law Library! Funds are not available to fund university education, yet since year 2009, the Nigerian Army has been engaged in an unwinnable war against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Who will help us?
Truly, the National Anthem should be: Nigeria We Hail Thee!
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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