Many Nigerians are stuck with zero experience of what it means to live in a decently run society. Laden with a long history of mostly inept and less-than patriotic leaders, it seems abnormal to expect any bit of improvement in their daily existence from the government. Massive infrastructural decay and regular reports of primitive accumulations of illicit wealth have since lost their capacities to shock.
In fact, most people have since adjusted their lives to perennially absorb the vicious impacts of these debilitating vices. They constantly extract some bit of comfort from continually reassuring themselves that they are in such a hopeless and helpless situation where these excruciating fallouts of leadership failure will remain the resilient, inseparable companions they are condemned to perpetually coexist with.
Those who lack the resources to obtain some form of alleviations resign themselves to fate, hoping that they would be able to sustain the capacity to continue enduring the searing rewards of successive wayward and rudderless leaderships – which will remain their perpetual sources of torments.
Even the Nigerians who reside in well-ordered societies, where leaders are accountable and basic amenities are meticulously provided and maintained, once they touch down on Nigerian soil automatically adjust their minds to endure the excruciating realities of life in Nigeria. They only derive some consolation from the fact that they would soon jet out again to where sanity and orderly existence are taken for granted.
And so, when it is election season and these disoriented Nigerians are ready to vote, they do not even bother to interrogate the antecedents, hollow promises and other antics of the candidates having concluded they all belong to the same cult of corruption and ineptitude; they would only seek to extract some ephemeral emotional satiation from lending their support to somebody who shares the same ethnic or religious identity with them. At least, they can always derive some comfort (or even animation) from the fact that their “brother” or “sister” had also joined the rampaging band of locusts, and that their votes had helped to achieve that feat for their people!
But, sadly, there is hardly any green vegetation anywhere again for the locusts to swoop on and devour. What we have all over the place are long stretches of excruciating aridity which only rewards with poverty and hardship all that are unlucky to have Nigeria as their home at this time.
Only recently, the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit, EIU, told the world what most people already knew, namely: that Nigeria’s “debt service payments in the first four months of 2022 totalled N1.9trn, which was greater than its total revenue of N1.6trn, according to the 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, MTEF/FSP, draft presented by the Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed, on July 21st.”
In plain language, what we are being told is that the amount being spent to service the huge debts accumulated by the Buhari regime, as a result of reckless borrowings, including the $1.96 billion foreign loan for the construction of an undesirable rail line from Nigeria to Niger Republic, has far exceeded our country’s income, forcing Nigeria into the perilous state of compounding the debt burden by borrowing more money to service debts!
The Excess Crude Account, ECA, Nigeria’s savings for the rainy day, which stood at $2.1 billion when Buhari became president, instead of increasing, has by June 2022 been brutally reduced to $35.7 million. By July, it plunged further down to $376,655. It will be a huge surprise if one cent would remain in it in the next couple of months.
And clearly at sea as to how to crawl out of the sticky pit he has dragged Nigeria into, President Buhari is still playing the profligate big brother out there, dolling out $1 million to Afghanistan a few months ago and recently approving N1.14 billion for the purchase of posh SUVs for Niger Republic to strengthen their security operations while the country he purports to rule is scarily submerged in worsening insecurity. For about six months now, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has been on strike due to very poor working conditions, and hapless parents are forced to watch the unsightly and devastating spectacle of their children’s future being toyed with by insensitive politicians whose own children are mostly studying in quality schools and colleges in better managed countries of the world.
Indeed, unless a competent and patriotic manager is allowed to take over the leadership in 2023 and steer her away from the path of disaster, Nigeria, already miserably broke and prostrate, will fail beyond what anyone had thought was possible in a country ruled by human beings.
At the recent national conventions of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the delegates that voted to choose their presidential candidates were reportedly bought soul and body with crispy wads of US dollars – an unwholesome indulgence that unleashed further hurt on the economy. This is apart from the hundreds of millions of naira earlier squandered to purchase nomination forms and sort out other logistics.
Now, after investing all these millions of dollars and billions of naira to secure their tickets alone and then more billions to prosecute the campaigns and buy votes from willfully impoverished Nigerians, would their first mission, if by any stroke of misfortune any of them emerges as the leader of this unfortunate country, not be to hurriedly seek to recoup their investments with rich interests?
And will Nigeria’s already bankrupt economy be able to survive such boundless looting for a few more months when they and their associates who helped them to power descend on it like starving locusts? Social media reports say that a presidential candidate has hired about 500 young people and armed them with laptops and data to market him and demonise his opponents.
It will be tragic if among these misguided lot are university students who have been at home for the past six months because government officials think it is better to pocket and squander the scarce resources of Nigeria than to use them to secure the future of the younger generation by giving them quality education.
Now, these youths would be naive to expect to return to school any time soon, after being paid for a few months to help enthrone another callous and corrupt government with a handsome fraction of the money that could have met their lecturers’ demands.
As these old parties which have since eroded their credibility and ability to inspire the populace deploy the same well-worn shibboleths to recapture power and continue Nigeria’s march to desolation, Mr. Peter Obi suddenly emerged as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, and immediately captured the widespread admiration and acceptance of Nigerians with his sterling records of transparency and competence demonstrated while he served as Anambra Governor and clear message of economic recovery.
Stunned, the politicians of the old order, rose with wild desperation, vigour and vicious determination to resist his bold move to reclaim the country for the people. They know that Nigerians have become aware that Obi has the courage, competence, resolve and unyielding patriotism to remove the feeding bottles from their greedy mouths and return Nigeria to the Nigerian people.
Not finding anything about corruption and incompetence to discredit Obi with, they have regurgitated the same old, weak tool of ethnicity and have unleashed their attack dogs to do and say anything to “Igbonize” his candidacy, even when it is so very clear that Obi is not contesting because he thinks it is the turn of the Igbo, but because of his zeal to reverse the rapid rot and turn Nigeria from a consumption country to a productive one.
If the Nigerian masses allow themselves to be deluded once again, they would all be here to suffer the consequences of their tragic decision. They are already crying because of the pepper rubbed on their eyes with the worsening hardship of last several years. The excruciating pains of corruption and incompetence do not unleash their torments with discrimination. They attack everyone irrespective of voting preferences or the tribal marks of the new misruler. Nigerians from Katsina, Buhari’s home state, can attest to that.
• Ejinkeonye, a journalist and author, wrote via: email@example.com