(By Chiedu Uche Okoye)
“But, our leaders are telling us that we have never had it so good like now, that today’s Nigeria is better than Nigeria of yester-years. So, the minister of finance does read out statistical gobblydook to prove that our economy has improved tremendously. But, millions of Nigerians are living below the poverty. And, about ten million children of school ages are out of school because their parents cannot afford to keep them in schools“.
AREN’T we living in troubled times in the geographical space called Nigeria? The Boko Haram insurgents are killing innocent people in the north-east of Nigeria in order to create an Islamic State there. Kidnappers and armed robbers are having a field’s day in some cities of Nigeria. Daily, millions of unemployed youths throng companies and government establishments searching for jobs. Truly, this is not the best of times for Nigeria and Nigerians. It is not the best time to be a Nigerian.
But, our leaders are telling us that we have never had it so good like now, that today’s Nigeria is better than Nigeria of yester-years. So, the minister of finance does read out statistical gobblydook to prove that our economy has improved tremendously. But, millions of Nigerians are living below the poverty. And, about ten million children of school ages are out of school because their parents cannot afford to keep them in schools.
Besides, yearly, our universities churn out university graduates who are pushed into the already saturated labour market. For all our economic prosperity, as espoused by our leaders, the government has not tackled the issue of unemployment effectively. An adage says that an idle hand is a devil’s workshop. The unemployed people constitute a ready pool from which Boko Haran recruits its foot soldiers and suicide bombers. And, most discontents in Nigeria who have taken to crime are unemployed people. There is always a connection between the high rate of criminal activities in Nigeria and our issue of unemployment.
Now, Nigeria is racked with crimes. Kidnappers are having a field’s day in some states in the south-east and south-south. Rich people are seized and they would not regain their freedoms until and unless they’ve paid ransom. There are incidences of armed robbery operations in the country. The rich live behind fortresses, and drive in bullet-proof cars. It is that bad.
Now, the north is a hot-bed of terrorist activities. The Boko Haram insurgents control a large swathe of the north-east; and they’ve hoisted their flag in the Damboa town. They carry out their bloody and murderous operations in Abuja and other northern towns, too. Aren’t the people of the north under siege? Until now, the Federal Government has not secured the release of the Chibok school girls who were abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents. The abduction of these girls has provoked global outrage and condemnation, and attracted sympathy to the Borno people.
But, the government’s responses to issues affecting us are tardy, uninspiring, and ineffective. It takes ages for the President to take a decision on an issue. The spectre of the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola disease looms over us. Given our porous borders, an infected foreigner can find his or her way into our country, and inadvertently infect our people with the Ebola virus. A citizen of Liberia died of the Ebola disease while in Nigeria.
So, what is our country’s level of preparedness regarding how to tackle and contain the Ebola disease if the situation goes beyond what it is now which is not an impossibility given our way of life as a people. What is our Plan B? The government, no doubt, has risen admirably to the occasion. Even then we cannot rest on our oars. We should be proactive. The dysfunctionality of our health sector is obvious and it cannot give us the confidence we need. Well-heeled Nigerians travel to South Africa and India to receive treatment for minor ailments. Doctors in the government employ are always embarking on industrial action to press home their demands. In the past, our hospitals were referred to as consulting clinics; today, they’ve moved to mortuaries where people go to die. Against this background, the outbreak of the Ebola disease has the potential of decimating our population until the last contact, primary or tertiary is completely cleared.
So, we are really living in troubled times. But, our country’s future is a cause of anxiety and worry among Nigerians. The year 2015, when we will conduct a general election, will mark a watershed in our political annals. For that reason it is striking alarm in the hearts of our people. Forces are arrayed against our President to ensure that he is removed from the top-most political office in the country. Those agitating for power shift to the North are unrelenting; they have not given up their sabre-rattling. And, the emergence of the Boko Haram terror group is part of a grand plot by some people to rattle and cow the president into relinquishing power. The country is split along ethnic and religious lines. As the 2015 draws nearer, tension is mounting in the country.
Come to think of it, the President is accused of master-minding the removal of Mr. Murtala Nyako via impeachment. And, the dust of the impeachment plot to remove governor Tanko al-Makura has not quite settled. The gale of impeachment sweeping across the country is seen as a plot to weaken APC, the opposition party. Will the democratic and electoral process be perverted and compromised before and during the 2015 general elections to aid the ruling PDP to win elections? Here, our brand of politics is a do-or-die affair. Violence trails the release of election results, and those that lose elections head to the election tribunal instead of accepting defeat.
The Boko Haram insurgency, the issue of unemployment, our egregious variant of politics, and government’s ineptitude are factors that can trigger off conflict in the country. Indeed, we are living in troubled times.
• Okoye is a poet, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State
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