I FELT a bit miffed at the president’s Eid-el- fitr message not because it lacked compassion or empathy but because it lacked a departure from his strongly held minimalist view of our daily reality. In all sincerity, I have made a solemn promise not to throw empty criticism at Mr. President and only lend my voice to matters in which common sense is clearly shrugged away to accommodate political vacuity. The message read thus: “I am not unaware of what Nigerians are going through and I want to use this medium to commend the amazing sacrifices of Nigerians in the face of temporary economic and social challenges and also reassure Nigerians that my government is working assiduously towards providing basic needs and other amenities. Let
me also use this opportunity to reaffirm that we will not relent in the fight against corruption and we will ensure that all appropriate and legal measures are deployed to root out this malaise”. Perhaps the words of O Henry, Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man is starving, underpins the very premise of my argument. Again, Nigerians are being congratulated for their sacrifices in difficult times, what needs to be asked though, is if such burdens will climax with better days. In any case, as for me and my house, we will remain skeptics until proven otherwise by the government of the day. Of more concern, however, is the fixation of Mr. President on the fight against corruption. Without a doubt, corruption is a must kill but I also share the concern of Hon. Yakubu Dogara, that convictions have hardly been made even in the sight of
overwhelming evidence of the culprits admittance and willingness to return stolen funds. Neither the president nor his towering integrity can prosecute any war against corruption; he has no choice than to rely on the institutions saddled with such statutory obligation. The best the president can do is to empower such institutions and let the chain off the neck of the proverbial dog. It is not enough to make public declarations that merely romanticises the populace and whips sentiments but rather a case of putting your money where your mouth is. The president will be guilty of living in the clouds if he thinks that he can champion a successful fight against corruption without a reform of the Police Force, the judiciary and a healthy working relationship with the legislature to pass into law the propositions of the executive. Hence, a continuous focus on a fight technically outside the arena of the president will
A person can grow as much as his horizon allows — John Powell IT IS only perhaps in Nigeria, that in the midst of hyper-inflation, hyper- unemployment, unbearable hardship, leaders will be fighting over words uttered in the hallowed Chambers of the Senate. By comparison, let us take a look at some really disturbing incidents that occurred during the period: A truck laden with petrol ran into a commercial passenger bus under the bridge at Liverpool Road, Apapa, setting the bus ablaze. Over three persons who got trapped in the bus were killed. A Catholic priest was kidnapped in Imo State, and there was concern over his life and where about. Oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta area met and complained of increasing military build-up in their place. Niger Delta Avengers and their likes blew up another gas pipe, bleeding the nation. Fulani herdsmen attacked a quiet village in Benue State, killing over 18 persons. Christians are mourning a female Evangelist who was killed for preaching in some out skirts of Abuja. A
Catholic Church was set ablaze in Niger State. In all these, some people are protesting the verbal abuse of the a senator by another senator on the streets of Lagos! It is a game of distraction! Ordinary Nigerians are groaning under unbearable living conditions. There are no jobs, unemployment rate in the region of 30 percent, banks are firing workers, state governments refuse to pay workers for months; in fact, Oyo and Imo states governments are asking workers to apologise and go back to work or be sacked for protesting non-payment of their salaries. Most state governments continue milking their peoples dry, through increasing drive for IGR, preying on vehicle owners, shop and business owners. In Lagos, the new ban on street trading, is being implemented selectively. While nothing is happening in Lagos Island, Yaba, Apapa, Ketu and Ojota arrears, street traders are hotly hounded at Cele Bus-stop and Oshodi. Considering that life has become very tough in Lagos presently, here is advocating that government gives a breathing space to those women trading under the bridge at Cele Bus-stop by allowing them times and days to trade to enable them sustain their survival. Governments: Federal, states and local governments, are the biggest employers of labour today and with the late approval of the national padded, then unpadded
budget almost one year behind schedule, things are bound to be hard. Life is so unbearable that in villages, some parents deliberately sell or pledge their children for food to eat! People typically are reacting in different ways to the realities of these hard times. Some, if not most of them, are getting closer to God by attending churches where they expect the Pastor or Priest to give them transport and feeding money from the offering box after every service. Others resort to the crimes of robbery, cultism, prostitution and kidnapping to make money to survive. Networks between these various areas of crime are developing, and who knows what our nation will look like when prostitution networks with cultism and kidnapping, etc. Some people simply move into terrorism, blaming education and humanity for their predicaments in life. Most people, including those driven closer to God by hardship, find corruption the easy way out, causing it to run deep into the Nigerian system due to survival instincts. They cheat, lie, deceive and steal to survive and meet up with life and living, making trust and integrity scarce elements in our society today. This is why the task of fighting corruption cannot be accomplished without a comprehensive plan. Clamping people into jail, police cells, and rough use of the coercive powers of the state, will
not solve the problem as people will only devise more clever and safer means to survival through corruption. Governments need to focus more on employment generation and job creation by attracting investments into the economy at all costs. Investors and businesses in Nigeria need three things to flourish and reduce corruption occasioned by poverty. First is security and safety of live and property. Boko Haram and Fulani herds men have rendered the North East of Nigeria supine, and no investor will be keen to do business there. The oil rich Niger Delta region is gradually being reduced to a desolate land through the activities of militants. And the wrong ‘ crush this and crush that’ approach of this government to every issue that does not involve the Fulani herdsmen has not helped matters. The South East is ravaged by the menace of kidnapping for money. This is a big disincentive to foreign direct investments. The North Central areas appear to be under permanent siege of Fulani herdsmen. The sooner the Federal Government jettisoned the Grazing Bill idea, distances itself from the marauding Fulani herdsmen and drops the obvious islamisation trends for a while, the better, things will be for Nigeria. The next thing investors and businesses need is electric power. The power sector is sinking
be simply straining at a gnat and ignoring a whole camel, a typical case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Someone needs to remind Mr. President that it’s about the economy, about job creation and an improved livelihood, nothing else at this junction matters. I quite agree with Olatunji Ololade in his Friday’s column in The Nation newspaper, when he said “Buhari seeks to eradicate diseased plants from the nation’s fields of enterprise even as he sows sickly seeds under the roof of the Nigerian barn house”. One of the greatest economists of the 18th and 19th century, John Maynard Keynes argues that in a recession of significant magnitude, it is necessary for the government to intervene and actively stimulate the economy. He was famous for recommending that the government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them up because it doesn’t matter
what they do as long as the government is creating jobs. Quite frankly I understand the president’s fascination, if not obsession with corruption and never will I doubt his sincere passion for a nation he fought and bled for but he must come to terms with the fact that strong nations are not built on the integrity of an individual, even if that individual is the president, but on a continuous investment in the people in whom the government derives its authority from. I therefore urge the president to maintain his stance on corruption but give a closer attention to the economy. Mr. President also needs to remember that economic deprivation, stagnation or exclusion will ultimately lead to social and political catastrophe, the very demon he is fighting very hard to expel. Mr. Ayodele Adio, a social critic, wrote from Lagos

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