By Rev Fr Gerald Nwafor
The Industrial Court has said the university lecturers would go back to the classroom. I did listen to the Minister of Labor talking on one of the popular TV stations in the country. I spent one hour listening to him. In the middle of the interview, I wanted to switch off the television and go about my other business. My brother priest, who is serving in one of the riverine areas, was calling me to tell me that the flood was carrying them away. I am sorry I did not quickly respond my brother.
Back to the main topic again, listening to the Minister on national television. I was sad that he was defending the APC government, which is indefensible. Whenever someone is defending this administration that person has two choices. The first choice is to lie right away to your face.
If you debunk the lies, he will say that he needed to check his record; or he will accuse you of the same crime which we call the fallacy of “YOU TOO” (tu quo que). The second choice is to choose the stammering method that makes them look confused or stupid. I have watched eloquent speakers like Festus Kayemo (SAN) stammer for 30 seconds without saying a word. The Minister of Labor did stammer too, but he preferred the first choice more.
So, in the last minutes of the interview with the Minister, the presenter started asking the Minister some personal questions about the political situation in the country today. At that point, I turned up the volume to hear clearly what he would say. I remembered that while he was governor of Anambra state in early 2000, he was kidnapped by non-state actors and put in a hotel for nearly 48 hours.
The episode changed his political beliefs, and he started working in Anambra state for the three months and seven months he was in office as governor. I do not want to go into details of the SupremeCourt judgment that removed him from office, because he may be in the same shoes as Celestine Omehiaof River State who must refund all the monies paid to him as an illegal governor of River State.
The wise man on the road to Awka said that while he was trying to say this, that will come out of his mouth. The presenter asked the Minister of Labor if he will vote for theAPC or LABOR PARTY. The Minister did not disappoint me at all. He did not stammer or answer foolishly. He said that he will vote secretly on election day. The presenter asked him again if he would vote for his party (APC), he said he would not disclose his franchise publicly. It was at that point that I gave him a pass mark.
Peter Obi was on national television also informing the Nigerian public how the oil business has become a criminal syndicate. His calculation and the multiplication veracity made me get my calculator to make sure his brain was working well. He did not disappoint. We lose 800,000 barrels of oil daily to the thieves whom he called government thieves.
In his calculation, if we can stop the oil theft in one month, multiply 800,000 by 30 days. 2.4 million barrels in one month. Multiply 2.4 million barrels by $110. It gives you about $250 million dollars. And he asked the question, how much is ASUU asking for that the universities are closed for the last eight months? One month of stolen oil would settle the ASUU strike.
Anyways he made the point that no ordinary Nigerian can steal the crude oil because it is not candy in the grocery store that you can put into your pocket and walk away. To steal the oil, you need a cargo ship to come into the territorial waters. The Navy must be aware. It takes 12 days to load one ship so even if our Navy officials were asleep, they must have woken up in 12 days. Unless they transition from sleep to death; that would be understandable.
I had the opportunity to listen to the budget presentation. I weep and cry that the House (both chambers) and the President presented a budget they agreed was not sustainable. A budget that started with a 60% deficit. A budget that the government would borrow 50% to service debt. A budget in which the expected income of the total budget is less than 30%.
The subsidy is higher than the crude oil sold. I remember the old woman who said that she did not go to school but she uses common sense to deduce that, “No, no, no” is not a positive answer in the English language. I am not very good in mathematics, but the optics of that budget would even tell the old woman that all those deficits and services of debts and subsidies are a sign that things are not standing well.
When will the university go back to its glory days when the undergrads were the pride of their parents? When will the crude oil that transformed the Emirates in 25 years transform our beloved country Nigeria? These two things should be a blessing to a country, not a curse. Universities and crude oil and the 2023 Presidential election should bring blessings into the Nigerian state, not the opposite.