By Tony Abolo
All countries are thinking of post – COVID-19 stimulus packages for their economies. We are still in lock-ups and lockdowns and extensions thereof. We are still holding meetings to decide on Economic Sustainability, through a Vice President chaired Economic Sustainability Committee. Fancy stuff, fancy name!! As if the nomenclature will put food on the table of 199 million Nigerians.
Nigeria is a strange, very strange country. It could be better. But it cannot, simply because the domineering ethnic neo-colonialists, want it in their shape of mind; unprogressive and unreflecting. There is no clear agenda to move us from a primitive 13th Century mind set unto a 21st Century not to talk of 22nd century. I have a book titled “Thinking Backwards”. It means something else, alright, but the title aptly depicts the kind of thinking that permeates the nation, a more or less backwards thinking!!
While tiny Madagascar has gone ahead with its COVID-19 Organics, big for nothing Nigeria, with its Epidemiologists, Pharmacognocists, Virologists, Infectious Diseases Doctors are waiting for a go ahead for a nod that may never come from the inner recesses of Aso Rock. Why should such persons be funded for researches and breakthroughs for Nigeria when Buhari needs every Kobo for his school feeding program for students on lockdown at home and for his Lawyer led COVID-19, Presidential Task Force? They can keep waiting.
And so COVID-19 is on. In Benin, Hausa Quarters was sealed up pending when the residents would yield to community testing. That is the intention and the statement of Government. But what do the Hausa community interpret the action as? A resident tells me, “Edo State Government says, all Hausa wey dey sell yabas (onions) and tomatoes should not sell again ? Fancy the mindset of the uneducated!!! “When I prodded further, the response I got was – “You test you die, you no test, you die”. Logic, informed by religion that is driven by stoic philosophy. Can we all really continue to stay in the same country?
I am amused at the spate of congratulations being sent by politicians, especially from Edo State to the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari. It is not hard to know what their intentions are. But come. Since when has an unconstitutional position of a Chief of Staff become so meaningful that politicians want to hang on to it to show relevance, “fake love”, and hopefully, it gains them ascendancy in their ambitions? Funny lot they all are. A Chief of Staff is no more than a Head of Administration, a head clerk, a Personal Assistant, no matter what anybody wants to make of Professor Gambari. It is only in Nigeria that political positions take a life of their own and assume larger life than they should be. A Governor or a President are what? Heads of Public Service Bureaucracy. Period. Here we adore and worship them. This is why they do nothing important for four years and consider every official act as a favour of graciousness to the people who are their electors and masters. “What a cheek!!!”.
After eight years of Buhari, I wonder what he would be remembered for? Sitting in front of a screen, doing video meeting conferencing? What, exactly? Obasanjo after eight years left us with a lasting wide ranging impactful GSM. In fact, but for that revolution, Buhari could not be doing any COVID-19 era video or audio conferencing. Still asking, what in eight years and after, would Buhari be remembered for? As one who through a Minister went about with sacks of Ghana – must – go bags distributing billions to persons we are yet to ascertain are the poorest of the poor or as someone with plastic plates and spoons, feeding non schooling children in their homes and spending about N697 million a day under the guise of school feeding program? Ambition, Shakespeare said, should be made of sterner stuff. In a twist, I would say in this school feeding program, at a time the Federal Treasury is running empty, populism “wayo” can be better designed and not so patent like this. Or is this Nigerian style socialism?
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Nothing proves it better that a past time habit of Nigerian Governments is telling obvious lies. 22 or so Chinese arrived Nigeria in late March 2020. They were received at the Airport by the Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. We were told they came to assist with the pandemic as they are said to possess great experience with treatment and recovery in the COVID 19 pandemic patients. When the media enquired where they were, after a month, we are told they were technicians and no longer medical personnel and that they came to work with CCECC, a Chinese construction firm working on Federal Government projects. Asking further, we are told they have run out of their visa stay. Next, they cannot leave because there are no outbound flights? Who granted them visas in the first place? Who flew them in? What and where is the truth of the Chinese COVID 19 travellers?
Just when you think, you are through and through with the leadership of this country, there is one more inane act. How could we in the wake of a drop in or lack of crude oil sales, less income, impending job losses, all the Federal Government could do by scaling down on the Federal Budget is a 10% cut of its total expenditure from its original 2020 Budget. That amount represents a 0.6% cut. Clearly this is a country that has lost its head? Do we have serious leaders, anywhere in Nigeria? Are there thinking people in governance in Nigeria?
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Lastly, as I sit musing about things, whenever I hear of the Kajuru killings in Kaduna State and the massive Almajirai movements from the North to the South, against the Presidential directive barring crossing State boundaries, I keep asking myself, does Buhari hear of these events? And if he does, what goes on in his mind? Does he consider Southern sensibilities or the core issues of securing the land? I just wonder about his mindset or the musings in his mind – like I too am musing now.