Nigeria Survives only on Surprises

By Uche Amunike

Ikedi Isiguzo is a veteran in the media terrain. He calls himself a major commentator on minor issues. I love reading him and each time I do, I end up either sharing his posts in my various platforms or here on Frank Talk. Today, I bring you, not one, but two of his really interesting articles. Enjoy…

Not too young to run Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello is a major news item for two reasons – his strident stand that Covid-19 does not exist, and his decision that he is the next President of Nigeria. Both are bold positions. Some ascribe them to youthful exuberance.

Whatever they are, Bello carries both campaigns with dedicated enthusiasm. His interesting thesis is that Covid-19 is not as dangerous as Lassa fever and malaria, diseases that barely get attention.

Eleven states that surround Kogi State are the immediate beneficiaries of his health policy. Thousands of travellers who pass the state daily to access other parts of Nigeria enjoy the Covid-19 lapse in Kogi.

The surprise is in the federal response to Bello, who believes he is a lion, best Governor by many assessors, liberator of the youth, an “imminent” future President of Nigeria. He is ignored on Covid-19, but has unfettered access to the President.

How will Bello be President of Nigeria? Someone dared ask me. How not? Why not? Is he not (over)qualified?

Many are busy reading non-existent literature on the best President for Nigeria, qualities of the President in 2023. Others are postulating on who should not be President relying on statistics, fairness, equity, ethnicity, religiosity, and rations (zoning).

Bello could be reading a pick from one of numerous strategic notes that have flooded his office and home since he muted the idea of succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari. His choice is remarkable.

He found the title, ‘How I became President’, most appealing, most futuristic, and in tandem with Bello’s belief that 29 May 2023 is his ordained coronation day as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Whatever happens with Covid-19, whatever Kogi people think of the performance of their Governor, Bello is the foremost candidate (not aspirant). His campaign is on, the most prominent.

Fears about annoying President Buhari with an early campaign do not apply to him. He visits the Presidential Villa regularly. Could he be familiarising himself with the surroundings?

Bello is reportedly generous sometimes at personal risk. A September 2018 incident, when he fell off his official car, saw him badly injured. The injury required that Bello be flown abroad for treatment.

His Excellency was hurriedly stepping out of his moving vehicle to fulfil his traditional obligation of spraying money on crowds (some say, admirers) that line his routes. The incident appears to have curbed his unique philanthropic feature.

Another surprise is that the Federal Government has nothing to do with its time than to engage in conflicting statements on cost of fuel. It was only Mrs. Lauretta Onochie who came close to admitting how trite the exchanges were when she declared that fuel once sold for N288 per litre, yes, in Nigeria.

When was that? She didn’t say but drew our attention to the gratitude we deny President Buhari with all he has done to rescue Nigeria from “a certain doom” in 2015.

Occasionally, our refineries and cost of maintaining them are mentioned. The debates are as unstable as the international price of crude oil which we benefit from through crude sales. We expend oil earnings on lifestyle of our politicians and the rest to import fuel.

Nobody should be surprised when we start borrowing to import fuel. There must be an economic explanation for it. The only surprise is government’s patience. It has not told those who can’t afford fuel to found a country.

A similar answer would suffice for rising food prices. Economists blame the prices on inflation. With time they will blame inflation as the cause of inflation. Safe answers are simpler and sustain the surprises.

Herdsmen attacking farmers, insecurity of our forests, rising cost of fuel, and indeterminate storage practices, are factors in the prices of food. They can easily be termed inflation.

Nigeria daily strips us of the remaining shreds of humanity. Abduction of students, kidnapping at home, on the road, in the farms, killings, have all become regular, daily news. Government barely acknowledges these.

When they do, the responses say it all – series of speculations and surprises that confirm that Nigeria delights in defying the most basic logic.

Those who intend to lead Nigeria must have insights rooted in ad hominem.