The Sun News

How long can a country run on generator?

From 1960 (if not 1914) Nigeria has been running on generator. That’s at once an empirical, profound and unassailable statement. There’s not one sector of our national life today that would keep this country breathing one more second, if we shut off the perennial, inevitable life support. There never was, yesterday and, the way we’re going, there may never be, tomorrow.

God forbid! That’s our habitual consolatory refrain, right? Wrong. I can no longer be consoled with the silly daydream that Eldorado would fall on me, after I vehemently elected to ignore the fact that heaven had empowered me to create it. That’s the tragedy of our reality: Nigerians have what it takes to fix Nigeria but we would rather she remained on life support forever.

By the way, what does it mean: a country run on generator or life support? And, since we are a people of monumental hypocrisy, what proof(s) exist(s) that Nigeria is the perfect example of an adult that lives on breastfeeding? Let’s analogise with electricity generation: noiselessly or noisily. If it’s being provided, say by government, consumers suffer no noise, no fumes; but with self-supply we suffer untold hazardous concomitants.

Our country enjoys uninterrupted noisy electricity because it runs on generator. As a people, we are on life support because we cannot breathe naturally. It is crass patriotism to caontest both unimpeachable verities. Even worse, continuing to live in that denial and allowing it to mess up our perspective is a terrible failing and failure of citizenship.

In justifying the assertion that Nigeria and Nigerians are permanently on generator or life support, space or the lack of it would restrain this piece to just three major areas of nationhood. Take politics, economy and education, which are veritable tools for and indicators of development. Are these three fundamental drivers of society on autopilot, in this country? The answer is not blowing in the wind.

Educationally, the state has done nil to ensure quality in process, finishing and employment. The sector is a free-for-all that was conceived (and is being run) in fits and starts. There’s no deliberate policy to ensure qualitative process or product. There’s no system to engage those who have gone through it.

Our universities and allied tertiary institutions take ungodly advantage of our craze for paper qualification to churn out millions of half-baked graduates, year in, year out. Yet, the national employment market has never been able to accommodate even one hundredth of this critical, time-bomb mass. Alas, this horrendous actuality is not peculiar to just our education sector. It’s general.

Economy-wise, the seemingly overworked Budget and National Planning Minister, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, and his smooth-talking Finance colleague, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, continue to daze us with how well the country is performing. They bandy head-swelling scientific growth figures. However, this is yet to affect the price of fish. Unfortunately, that’s about the only index of economic health known to the common man!

If you weep over our educational and economic F9s, what next seeing there’s no mark for our politics? Pray, how do you score adults who on the eve of joining the sexagenarian club are still busy in the sand, engaged in child’s play politics? Nigeria has lost a fortune to her politics of blood, mediocrity, ethnicity, religion, corruption, elections, etc. We’re fast losing our country because our political apathy emboldens or allows nincompoops to have a field day. 

Last Saturday, at namesake Michael Matthew’s birthday in the Ewet Housing part of Uyo, my friend ’Rach (a frontline foot soldier for President Muhammadu Buhari) voiced a deeply troubling truth: that the few Nigerians who have managed to acquire the permanent voter card want it not for elections but as a means of identification. We cannot and should not laugh off such an expensive joke nor permit its reality one more second. If Nigerians want back Nigeria to redirect her where she ought to be post-2019, the time to prepare to turn off this annoying, cranky, sickening generator or life support is, sorry, was, yesterday.

God bless Nigeria!

Slow and steady, Saraki’s Senate is coming clean

Mid-2019, when posterity files away 2015, I suspect that it would be fair to the Nigerian Senate, under Dr. Bukola Saraki. Forget the hide-and-seek over how fat their pay cheque is, a handful of these men and women have, overall, been wonderfully senatorial and nationalistic in speech and performance.

For example, the Senate President himself. More than even President Muhammadu Buhari, Sen. Saraki has almost-always evinced leadership, balance and statesmanship, which are necessary ingredients for stability in a hypersensitive jurisdiction such as Nigeria.

Just last week, two senators also showed their patriotic hands. Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, immediate past governor of my home state of Akwa Ibom, told the security summit: “We must discuss the real solution to domestic insecurity and not how to show hostility to Fulani herdsmen. The herdsmen are under serious attack too.”

And, as the week was about to roll into history, the Kaduna activist-senator, Shehu Sani, thundered: ‘The bloodshed in Zamfara is yet another tragedy in a series; there’s not enough tears to cry. Mourning has become part of our lives, under the very President who promised security. Every day sees a burial; funeral is a daily service. The most tragic of all tragedies is when tragedy is no more a headline.”

Coming from an APC senator, this is fantastically reassuring. Respite cometh to Nigeria, willy nilly!

South Africa: Not yet uhuru

The post-Nelson Mandela era hitherto not recording a presidency which didn’t crash-land (first, Thabo Mbeki, and now Jacob Zuma) speaks to a premonition that President Cyril Ramaphosa should be wary of, 24/7!


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