The Nigerian citizenship has got to be one of the most frustrating things God has ever created.
Being a Nigerian stands logic on its head, particularly being the happiest people on the planet. That’s what Fela called suffering and smiling. We are a resilient bunch, looking great in the midst of troubles. We are an easy going lot.
When the Nigerian state was bequeathed by the British colonialists, a single Naira was equal to two British pounds sterling. That was a little over 60 years ago. Today, instead of moving forward, over 500 units of that same Naira is equal to one British pound. It is amazing how this happened in a country which is the 6th oil producing country in the whole world. I speak of crude oil, not palm or groundnuts oil.
In January of 2018, Nigeria officially took the baton from India as the country with the highest number of poor people on earth. According to a recent World Bank report, more than 6million people risk entering into abject poverty with the recent uncontrollable rise in the prices of foodstuff and other essential products.
AS at the time of writing this, the government has made up its mind to further increase the price of electricity to homes. This means that by December of 2021, citizens, already impoverished, would pay more for electricity. This happens in a country that is grossly incapable of distributing a straight 2 hours electricity for domestic consumption, let alone for commercial use.
Public utility for the average Nigerian is a luxury. Here is the dilemma. The government which flares away its gas is complaining about the international prices of LPG, and thus giving a good reason for the increase in the price of cooking gas. One of the most baffling things about us is that for over sixty years of exporting crude oil, we have not been able to install a working refinery to move our oil production to a level where we would stop complaining.
Perhaps one of the greatest contradictions of mankind is witnessed here where absolute wealth cohabit with abject poverty, with a diminishing middle class. This is why I say Nigeria is at war with itself. The leaders probably see themselves as the Lords of the people.
In a recent release, the condescending attitude of the government towards the people was made bare by the release of the damning revelation about the controversial #EndSARS panel report chaired by a reputed retired judge in Lagos.
Before then, the government gaslighted everyone, both domestic and international, including the CNN that what we thought we saw wasn’t the real thing. I cannot bring myself to imagine the level of callousness that could result killing your own youths in cold blood and yet denying it!
While the government treats Boko Haram/bandits with kid gloves, I deployed the full weight of its equally oppressive military to cracking down on a band of protesting youths. Pythons has been dancing in the South East for God knows how long, while in the North, it has been operation lafiyadole, a house sentence which crudely means compulsory peace.
Maybe, it would not have gone this bad if we didn’t have sycophants who think napoleon is always right. In my interactions with a supporter of the government, he seems to confuse patriotism with fanatic support for the leader. This again is another cause of our warped set up.
While our professors are wont to blaming Europe and America for our woes, on the streets we have understood that there are two camps in our country. The oppressed and the oppressors. There is no place for the onlooker. The government needs to change its attitudes towards the people. Little wonder everyone wants to become a politician. Once you are in power, you have joined the oppressors. The people become beggars, dispensable and worthless in your eyes.
Unless we change, the gap widens. Soon both the oppressed and the oppressor would fall into the valley that would eventually be created. While we pray never to get there, our attitude would speed up the answers to our prayers.
God bless Nigeria.
Usman Okai Austin
Writes From Abuja.