“He who knows no hardship will know no hardihood. He who faces no calamity will need no courage. Mysterious though it is, the characteristics in human nature which we love best grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles.”
– Harry Emerson Fosdick.
I am a professed and an active Buharist and I am glad I made a wise choice. If given the opportunity again, I will not hesitate to repeat my preference for Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s President.
With that said, one cannot but be worried about the direction in which Nigeria is headed. That there is a cloud of darkness surrounding the country is no longer in doubt. No thanks to the impunity of the Jonathanians which turned the country into a veiled entity, unworthy of incense.
As things stand, Nigeria’s foundation is not only threatened with predictable consequences, its economy is also castrated. The masses are in total hardship, toiling and suffering; and it seems as if the spirit of Saul is pursuing our David. In this ‘fantastically corrupt’ country, demigods and untouchables in high places who once stole Nigeria blind are using Nigeria’s money to it. And it is as if their Cain is plotting to assassinate our Abel. Civil servants are living in avoidable stress and agony; and it is as if the Pharaoh which knew Joseph has passed. Though we seek to behave as a country run by laws, there is increase in electricity tariff without any corresponding increase in its availability. As if to compound our woes, our intelligence system has become so weak that criminals’ propensity to succeed in their acts has increased. As such, rather than collaborate, our security agencies find it more convenient to compete for recognition and attention.
A recently-released Livelihoods and Economic Recovery Assessment 2016 report on the North-East is not only revealingly disturbing, it is also symptomatic of a looming disaster unless urgent steps are taken to reset the button of Nigeria’s socio-economic situation. According to the report, unveiled by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, in partnership with Oxfam Nigeria, “46 percent of households in that part of the country borrow money to buy food; one economically active member of a household sustains 2.3 non-active members, while a majority of them do not have sufficient food supply.” It did not end there: “41 percent rely on alternative health care, 21 percent have migrated to other locations, while 20 percent send their children out to work and beg. 11 percent support a member with mental or physical disability, while 21 percent include, at least, one member with a chronic illness.”
In another report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, inflation in April 2016 jumped to a nearly six-year high, shooting up from March’s 12.8 percent to 13.7 percent. Elsewhere, government’s promise of better days ahead has been likened to the promise of a fully-loaded duplex in a highbrow city centre to a poverty-stricken family, whose immediate need is food for the belly. This is the sorry state of our country and the story continues.
Inadvertently or in-house, Nigeria has fallen on hard times and the time has come for us to reawaken our collective preparedness to confront the situation and chart a new way forward. Currently, the future gives very little hope for any meaningful change unless concrete and urgent steps are taken to salvage the situation. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, politics in this part of the world is not only seen as the art of the possible, it is also regarded as war by other means. Perhaps, it is the opposition’s somewhat better understanding of the texture of Nigeria’s politics that has catapulted it into presenting the ruling party as one of ‘pick and choose’; and its leaders as mere noisemakers unmeritorious of administering a country as vastly endowed as Nigeria.
To the opposition, the race to 2019 started the very moment it lost the last presidential race which informs all manner of unethical tactics by bad actors and vulgar heroes to re-seek relevance in the consciousness of the people. From loungers’ incitement of the people with nauseous and unrhymed lyrics; to the shadow-chasing, noise-only wailing wailers’ peddling of half-truths and outright falsehood against the Buhari-led administration, the tenuously stalemated opposition seems to be leaving no stone unturned in its desperation to recapture power. Unfortunately, however, it is as if the ruling party is still in its first day in office, endlessly-yet-needlessly savouring the joy of victory. And that is where the problem lies. Indeed, this is why this administration needs to increase its speed with unquestionable courage and uncommon amount of guts.
Goodluck Jonathan’s government has died of its own free choice. May its carcass continue to find peace in its pieces. But then, how did we get here and why has Nigeria suddenly become an ‘until it happens again’ country, sanctifying the footprints of her conquerors? Why is our economy dollar-determined and why does it look as if the poor is being unnecessarily taxed in order to fund government’s stimulus packages? Taking the issue beyond our current cut, what can the president do about the Delilah at the door, waiting to betray Samson to the Philistines; and the crowd of Pharaohs who, out of pure mischief and political miscalculation, is carousing the exigencies of intellectual acrobatics and deliberate distortions to cause disunity among Nigerians?
To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians do not hate this government per se. Instead, it is because their expectation of the dividends of ‘Change’ are taking too long to come to fruition. In like manner, it is not that some notable achievements have not been recorded in the life of this administration. Rather, it is because bad news travel fast. For instance, they are quick to insult our collective intelligence by accusing the president of courting Fulani herdsmen for ulterior intentions without mentioning that herders’ terrorism is a new phenomenon which neighbouring countries are also grappling with. They are also good at regaling us with moonlight tales on the parlous state of the economy without conceding that corruption as the mother of recession was actuated by the immediate past administration.
The tragedy of our politics is that Nigeria is blessed with an intelligent-but-value-starved political elite who thrive in throwing confusion into the midst of the electorate with a view to making them too oppressed to take intelligent decisions. I have had cause to ask Buhari’s traducers if Nigeria under Jonathan wouldn’t have collapsed, but none, so far, has been able to supply satisfactory answers beyond their Israel’s quest to continue slaving in Egypt.
Pain nourishes courage, but are the gods angry with Nigeria? No! The gods are not! Instead, at the end of the tunnel is the exhilaration of victory. After all, Buhari has with invincible determination and measureless vigour applied himself to the crisis of value, compounded by crisis of structure, currently threatening its sovereignty. Yes, there is a wilderness! Yes, there is a desert! From an analytical perspective, the God who created the garden also created the wilderness. But, if all we see is a desert without water, then, there is a problem.
In any case, given the prevailing circumstances, is one year enough for the president to “dream the impossible dream, fight the unbeatable foe and reach the unreachable star”?
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State