By Uche Amunike
I am supposed to be sleeping now because it's just 1am and my entire family members are enjoying their sleep especially as the rain is falling so heavily and the weather is as cool as cool can be. One of the challenges of being a columnist is that of having a ready topic on ground for your column every week. It's a Wednesday night and I'm still not inspired enough to write on any topic. I am just enjoying the cool weather and the beautiful sound of raindrops on my roof as my mind wanders and seeks the topic I would write on. Well, as I just couldn't think of anything in particular, one thing that crossed my mind was the fact that there were perhaps too much going on in my dear country, that it is actually hard to put a finger on one. We seem to be a nation full of drama and lots of crazy vibes from all sectors.
There is never a dull moment in Naija. I just chuckled and decided to go to my reading table and start typing. Since there was nothing in particular my mind dwelt on, perhaps I should just start writing about all the craziness going on in the country lately...
Adams Oshiomole's Public Disgrace
Let me start from the embarrassment meted out to the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole. It happened in the full glare of Nigerians and foreigners alike on the day of President Buhari's Inauguration at the Eagle Square in Abuja. While the representatives of the two arms of government, (the Legislature and the Judiciary) stood in a file to welcome the President, along with serving Service Chiefs, he proudly stepped out and breached inauguration protocol by standing next to the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed Tanko. Shortly after, one of the Service Chiefs walked him out of the waiting line because he didn't have a constitutionally recognized position that authorized him to stand in as a part of the parade. As I watched him walk away with head bowed in shame, I felt no pity for him because he deserved the public disgrace he received. Even APC faithful have since been asking him to resign as National president since that shameful incident. Watching it truly reminded me of the saying that 'pride goes before a fall'.
Wole Soyinka and the Plane Seat Imbroglio
The social media is also awash with the story of Nigeria's Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and an unnamed young man inside an aircraft. The young man just boarded the plane and when he got to his seat, he saw Prof Wole Soyinka comfortably seated on the window side, engrossed in the newspaper he was reading. The young man told him to get up from the seat because it was his space. The young man's insistence drew attention and Soyinka quietly stood up and sat on his rightful position. Now, this particular incident has generated a lot of controversy and while a lot of people have condemned the young man's action as a mark of disrespect to a man of integrity and also an old man, some others have also blamed Soyinka for not minding his own seat. I have this to say, though: that young man did not act like a true Nigerian child. A true Nigerian child that is well brought up by Nigerian parents is taught right from childhood that respect for elders is a sure ticket for someone to live a long and healthy life because it comes with blessings from them. I accept that the young man had every right to demand for his seat because it is his entitlement. However, he should have considered Soyinka's age, first of all before even considering his personality. Soyinka is an octogenarian. He is 84years old, for crying out loud. Why won't the young man let him have the seat? Isn't it a one hour flight? I also learnt that Soyinka refused to make a fuss and allowed the young man have his seat. I didn't expect any less. I am an Igbo woman but I was born and raised in the city of Lagos. In Yoruba land, respect for elders is one of the first things you learn because it's even a part of their culture. Even your sibling that is a year older than you is your elder who you are expected to give a 100% measure of respect. When I entered Molue buses, back in the day, I always stood up for elders so they could have my seat. At church on Sundays, I would stand up for elders if there were no longer available seats. The same thing goes for inside banking halls. It's all about having proper upbringing. So, for those who are cheering the young lad in the plane incident, I hope you remember that it is also biblical to respect your elders. He didn't do well as far as I'm concerned. Grey hair should always be respected. Let's always call a spade a spade.
Establishment of Fulani Radio Station
Recently, President Buhari announced that Nigerians and the paramilitary should submit their arms, regardless of being licensed or not. Nigerians were thrown into the frenzy of that statement because people wondered what his motive was. If he decided to disarm citizens of illegal arms, it's not a bad idea, but Nigerians have lost confidence in Buhari's government which was why eyebrows were raised. As if that was not enough, he made another pronouncement about a radio station being established for his Fulani brothers in our dear country. He didn't stop at that. He went on to say that the official language for the radio station would be none other than FULFUDE. Fulfude is the Fulani language. It was such a shock to Nigerians because, first of all, the Nigerian constitution only recognizes Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa languages and the government already pays for their broadcast. Why then Fulfude? What was the motive behind it? In my opinion, that decision served a lopsided purpose and is better halted until such a time when suspicion about the Fulani threat has died naturally! It just doesn't make sense to me!
Osinbajo's Comments on Kidnapping in Newyork
Also recently, our Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who is a pastor and a University Don, went all the way to New York where he was to have a meeting with their Vice President and had this to say to Americans about kidnapping: 'When people say that there is security problem here and there, it is not one thing. It is several things, but if it is described as several things, then it will look bigger than it really is. With respect to general kidnapping, which we have seen in certain parts of the country, again this is not entirely new. Some are fuelled by politics'. Hear him, still on kidnapping 'I am not sure how many follow the number of arrests made in different State Commands. I don't think the problem is as massive as that'. The truth is that Osinbajo's comments on kidnapping simply goes to show that the Buhari Administration has no single concern for the pain and suffering of Nigerians. He has gone out there to the USA to show the world how incompetent his master's government is, in tackling the security situation in the country. The international community is aware of the kidnapping and security challenges we face as a country. So, why make a fool of himself in the bid to cover up for his master? How will the families of kidnapped victims feel after viewing his presentation? And those that still have their family members in the custody of these kidnappers? How will they feel? It's really a shame!
I could go on and on. Nigeria is about the most comic, sad, dramatic, backward and interesting country in the world map. Democracy has been raped a million times before our very eyes. Economic recession is now a part of our narrative. I mean, you can't mention Naija without mentioning economic recession. Just recently, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi angrily lashed out at the Buhari's government and I quote, 'The country is Bankrupt and we are heading to bankruptcy. What happened is that the Federal Government do pay petroleum subsidy, pay electricity tariff subsidy, and if there is rise in interest rates, Federal Government pays. What is more life-threatening than subsidy that we have to sacrifice education, health sector and infrastructure for us to have cheap Petroleum. If truly President Buhari is fighting poverty, he should remove the risk on the national financial sector and stop the subsidy regime which is fraudulent. I challenge President Buhari to tell Nigerians the fact about the economic situation and also act quickly on it because the nation is already bankrupt. Since I have decided to come here, you have to accept what I have said here. And please, if you do not want to hear the truth, never invite me. So let us talk about the state of public finance in Nigeria. We have a number of very difficult decisions that we must make, and we should face the reality. His Excellency, the President said in his inaugural speech that his government would like to lift 100 million people out of poverty. It was a speech that was well received not only in this country, but world-wide. The number of people living with poverty in Nigeria are frightening. By 2050, 85 percent of those living in extreme poverty in the world will be from the African continent. And Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will take the lead. Two days ago, I read that the percentage of government revenue going to debt services has risen to 70 percent. These numbers are not lying. They are public numbers. I read them in the newspapers. When you are spending 70 percent of your revenue on debt services, then you are managing 30 percent. And then, you continue subsidizing petroleum products; and spending N1.5 trillion per annum on petroleum subsidy! And then we are subsidizing electricity tariff. And maybe, you have to borrow from the capital market or the Central Bank of Nigeria to service the shortfall in the electricity tariff, where is the money to pay salaries, where is the money for education, where are other government projects. For 30 years, successive governments have had this project called petroleum subsidy. This is the right time to stop it, so as to save the nation's economy. We need to tell ourselves the truth and put national interest above all other political permutations and attacks. It is our only way out of this looming disaster'.
I agree with Sanusi. He has said it all. We can however decide to make our country better from our very little corners in our homes, offices and society in general. We can't be the giant of Africa and yet live like refugees. It doesn't make sense. I can however, only keep thanking God for the grace that has made us come this far, in spite of all we have had to put up with, as a nation. It will all be hopefully over someday. Yes! No matter what, i will still shout it from the roof tops...I love my good old Naija!!! Oga adi mma!!!