By BASHIR ADEFAKA
“It was under the same Abacha that another fine officer, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), as Minister of Communications, set Nigerians free from the telecoms monopoly of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) by the great job he did deregulating the telecommunication sector and allowing Private Telecoms Operators (PTOs) to participate, which is the foundation for what has today become the ICT Hub that Nigeria is proud of.”
It was Senator Isa Kachako, a retired Army Colonel and former Acting Military Governor of Katsina State, who once told me at his Taraoni GRA residence in Kano that there had been no Nigerian Head of State or President, who had no capacity to transform the country for greatness but the people’s attitude not allowing the good results to show. It was his candid advice that Nigerians had better changed their attitude for better to begin to receive the blessings that Nigeria is capable of pouring upon them, generations after generations.
Characteristic of me, when Nigerians groan about hardship even with a capable and sincere king on the throne of powers, I try to find out why. Then in those days of recent history I usually did the findings by travelling around the country, from Lagos to any part of Nigeria where those I believed were capable of identifying the problems lived, who had enough experience to analyse and tell what the cause was and make suggestions. Col. Kachako, also a former Deputy Defence Adviser in India to Military Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo, was one of them just like General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, whose appointment for one of the talks would take me to Rayfield in Jos, Plateau State although the then very busy former Head of State would eventually be settled down for me in Government House, Benin City only for us to have to meet finally in Abuja. In most cases, the talks happened on phone. That was and is still Journalism. May Allah continue to bless the soul of my godfather, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, as I give many thanks to Vanguard Newspapers for the oxygen provided that enabled me do all of those media works for the love of country and good of all of us. It is one of those things that propel the progress of The DEFENDER Newspaper where I am today CEO/Editor-in-Chief.
In a country where people do not remember and appreciate great contributors of progress like President Muhammadu Buhari, who saw that Nigeria as naturally endowed country with countless mineral resources, should not import finished petroleum products such as diesel, fuel and so on and so forth and therefore built four refineries in his own discretion as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, there will always be hardship related to such ingratitude. In such country where the only thing to remember the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, GCFR, for is “Abacha Loot” which was coined from the lens of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in what was generally believed to be vendetta, despite the General being the first to do the banking reforms that opened the eyes of Nigerians to untold corruption in the Nigerian banking sector, the situation can never be far from what the nation is witnessing today – bank-induced corruption to the extent of manipulating foreign exchange to the detriment of the value of Naira whereas officially, the local currency is not devalued.
It was under the same Abacha that another fine officer, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (Rtd), as Minister of Communications, set Nigerians free from the telecoms monopoly of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) by the great job he did deregulating the telecommunication sector and allowing Private Telecoms Operators (PTOs) to participate, which is the foundation for what has today become the ICT Hub that Nigeria is proud of. In a country where people do not appreciate all of these great contributions to nation building but only remember to believe a fathomed lie of how that Head of State died by Indian prostitute’s apple, whereas other countries of the world benefit from such telecoms and ICT connected economic booms, it will always be other way round for such ungrateful people.
Country where people choose ingratitude as payback to good deeds of leaders, for instance what became of the end of Sir Tafawa Balewa – Nigeria’s most internationally acknowledged anti-corruption czar – from the hands of elements who got into the military with attitude that was miles apart from military discipline, what becomes the portion of the people is the seeming complex condition that Nigerians go through today. Note my use of ‘language’ – seeming – because the situation of Nigeria is not complex. It is the hypocrisy of the people by their attitude that makes it look complex because you cannot dwell in perpetrated injustice, intolerance and sabotage of government’s achievements and want to move forward. It is the position of God that he will never reward goodness with evil neither will he reward evil with goodness except the perpetrator changes and resolves not to do evil any longer.
How many of President Buhari’s years in office as civillian leader since the last seven years have Nigerians of that category allowed him the peace of the mind despite struggling hard not to fail in his promise to be better President for the people? It is either they come with ethnic controversy today to the extent that some people believe he equips members of his own Fulani tribe to kill people of other tribes and take over their land for themselves, or tomorrow they come with religious crisis that they carry abroad telling their foreign collaborators to collapse the sovereignty of their own country because of unfortunately unfounded claims that the President, because he is a Muslim, is killing Christians in the country. You even have situation where, in other tribes, people carry out their own known criminal acts and still blame it on Fulani because they must bring down the President at all cost.
Good, we and their American lobbyists now know that Owo, Ondo State Catholic Church attack was not done by Fulani or on behalf of Islam. Nobody has come out to apologise either to the Fulani community or Muslim Ummah of Nigeria. No one says any tribe is free of criminal elements. They exist everywhere; like they are in the North so they are in the South, like they are in the Muslim community so they are in the Christian community. That is where God passes all of us: If he had made community of man of a saint, there will be no need for the Law: Call it Canon Law or I call it Sharia Law, which is known at an elementary stage in philosophy as “Ethics and Society”. All countries of the world unite and stand with their governments against terrorism that escalated from the fall of Libya following West killing of President Maumaur Gaddafi, and other crimes. But, in Nigeria, people get divided along ethnic and religion lines because they have a Muslim President of Fulani extractions to blame, failing to realise that terrorists are what they are because they want to see people misrepresent their terrorism.
Is it the penetration of the all-important media that is supposed to be noble profession in carrying out these evils that we should mention or the collaboration, in form of NGOs in the disguise of human rights activism, they have with foreign agents who supply weapons to their fellow citizens to kill themselves mostly in Northern Nigeria and cause disturbances in Southern part? What about the fact that too many foreign countries envying Nigeria for its extra-ordinary blessings of natural resources make great efforts to collapse the republicism of the country so as to return and control those resources through their puppet in a disguised colonial hegemony? This is another area those who misinterpret the problem are not thinking about. Why is terrorism or banditry so rampant in Niger State, Zamfara, North East and South South? Has anyone been able to sit down and ponder over this? That will be topic for other day but who benefits? The sponsors.
I remember when Prof. Chinua Achebe’s then new book, “There was a country”, nearly tore the country apart as it attempted to open a wound of Civil War (1967-1970) that was already healed with General Gowon’s “No Victor, No Vanquished” end-of-war policy. The former Nigerian Leader, when contacted by me on instruction of my editor to speak on the new controversy being re-ignited, had told me to go and meet Historians, who had done a lot of works on the matter being re-opened by Achebe. I remember also telling General Gowon that, “Your Excellency, as a major actor of the Civil War era, there is no Historian that can better capture the scene than you can”. This made him sit up and speak with me confirming that, “With our policy of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’ over 40 years ago, it is not proper for anyone to re-open the matter again “, and he continued.
All of the aforementioned simply tell how we had gone about getting past or present leaders to diagnose prevailing situation, tell how we got to where we are and make suggestions for the guidance of those on the throne of powers at the given time.
Then in office, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, when I met him in his Senate Wing of the National Assembly office as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) senator in 2011 under Senate Presidency of Brigadier General David Mark, corroborated particularly Senator Kachako when he said, “The problem with Nigerians is that they have always taken their yesterday to be better than their today” and suggested that “the day the today of Nigerians start to be better than their yesterday, their situation will change from bad to good”. Still about attitude of the people!
This makes it imperative that I come up with this WAKE UP article as I begin to listen to some of the campaign promises of presidential candidates, who aspire to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2023. I have listened to some of the speeches of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and especially the Town Hall on Channels Television Sunday evening of November 13, 2022, addressed by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and I find out that the problem with governance in Africa’s most populous nation is not human capacity deficit but, strictly speaking, attitude of the people is disappointingly killing natural opportunities for Nigeria. Most Nigerians love to eat their cake and still have it. How do you expect a country you curse and sabotage daily to bless you? It is practically impossible.
That is why, despite huge investments in food security, non-oil sector of the economy and even power and energy sector, the people still groan in shouts due to the grip of poverty resulting from unemployment. Take N-Power for instance. How do you that are in one employment go and take N-Power that is meant for the unemployed and you that have capital go and take money meant to lift the less-privilege out of poverty, for instance, TraderMoni, and you think Nigeria will be better? It is how you contribute to the problem as unpatriotic citizen.
Some people made up their mind that since the candidate from their part of the country lost in 2015, they would make the country ungovernable and for seven years going, they have never changed from that unpatriotic position. I ran into an argument between a commuter bus driver and passengers in Ikeja in 2016. The driver is from a particular region. He had picked the passenger from Allen Junction going to Ikeja Underbridge, a less than 400 metre distance that was normally charged for N50 and he insisted on taking N100. When I saw the heated argument, like many other passers-by, I asked, “Oga, why did you charge N100 for the said distance?” His response would make an inpatient one want to go to war. “Are you not the one that voted for Buhari?” He replied with another question.
Again, that time, Nigerian rice, courtesy of Anchor Borrower programme of the Buhari Administration handled by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was on the rise and crashing market prices. 50kg bag was sold between N7,000 and N10,000. At Ile-Epo way between Alagbado and Iyanapaja, a shop owner from the same mother tongue of that driver told his customer that his 50kg bag of rice was N27,000. When asked why, he said, “Are you not the one that voted for Buhari?”
Those two samples I took personally in Lagos and all of a sudden, inflation began to rise. Sadly, however, people from region even more favoured by the election victory of President Buhari but who are ignorant marketers joined in the artificial inflation and economists, who talk economy on the television and in newspapers, left the real issue and started talking about indices that are not even helpful to economy as a course. They did no more than blowing grammar until they escalated the simple issue up to the time politicians were set for 2019 elections and they used “Hunger in the Land” as campaign strategy.
Trust most Nigerians, one the mainstream media helped amplified the political “Hunger in the Land”, it began to spread and even those that had no good intention about better Nigeria also joined in hiking marker prices and it became a daily affair. Thank God for COVID-19 lockdown, when countries in the world locked borders and ports against exports. The fact that Nigeria had enough food to sustain its people has continued to expose those saboteurs of government achievements. But even at that, the fact that hoodlums are allowed to handle transportation system in Lagos State plays role in the hardship that Nigeria express. An economy that other Nigerian states’ economies depend upon like of Lagos State should not be left in the hands of mediocre, hoodlums. I agree with Major General Abdullahi Adekunle Martins (Rtd), former Commander, Nigerian Army Ordnance Corp. The BRT system today in the supposed Centre of Excellence has failed to save the commuters from the hoodlums-dominated sector because they are still franchised to the same non-state actors. Then able people, who have work, have to beg in the streets to go to and from work because the Lagos transport sector has rendered their earnings inadequate just like market sector has done.
Many non-saboteurs that blame President Buhari do so because he does not take hard decisions against those market elements. But I also understand the President’s concerns. Rule of law and interest of him to allow Nigerians freely express themselves are unfortunately abused. Otherwise, how can market price increase on daily basis and salary of workers and earning of other citizens are not? Attitude!
The Cotton-Textile-Garment value chain is an integral part of economy that used to account for larger percentage of employment and GDP in Nigeria. Since Buhari came, he has been spending money to retool and revive the textile industry since 2017 but, because of the attitude of the people, these things have not been allowed to work.
So, to those who are campaign, who see the electorate’s votes, before they promise to be better President come 2023, try to find out what is it that is making Nigerians cry of hunger in the presence of plenty? And to the listening electorate, whose votes they seek, the question that should be asked now is not about capacity? WAOH! No! Is it Tinubu that someone would say has not capacity? Anyone that can govern Lagos State can govern United States of America talk less of Nigeria. Is it Kwankwaso or Peter Obi, for real, that one will say has no capacity or wherewithal to govern Nigeria? Or Atiku? All of the candidates are quality people but, the question electorate should ask at each time any candidate promises to be better President is, “In situation where bad election losers or naturally criminal Nigerians insist on make Nigeria ungovernable for your Administration, what will you do in order to protect the interest of the innocent ordinary citizens?”
See you again next week but don’t forget to send your reactions or comments through the email address or Whatsapp number above.