Nigeria’s many problems are obvious. We smell them in the air we breathe. They are encountered on airplanes we fly. They are present in the waters that flow down our esophagus into our stomach linings. We taste them in the food we munch on down our digestive tracts. Our problems daily wait for us on the roads we travel and in our public schools that function like public toilets. Nigeria’s difficulties are neither too difficult to see with natural eyes nor intangible to touch by our sensate fingers. But far removed from a nation’s goal is the boldness to embrace the truth. The truth surrounding reasons for our outstretched and hyper-extended challenges.
A nation’s besieging and bedevilling problem will only drag on for eons if the truth around the reason for the problem is not embraced by the people who know the truth. According to the 2017 estimates, Nigeria’s GDP is $375.8bn; the biggest in Africa. By year 2030, the consumer arm of Nigeria will grow to be about 273 million in population, more than the population of France and Germany lumped together. Over the same period, the GDP will also garner an additional $500bn. Nigeria’s economy is the biggest; so also, are citizens’ plights and pothers. The life of an average Nigerian is entrapped in misery. There are no tectonic effects of the bigness of the country’s economy.
The World Poverty Clock shows that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. Some 86.9 million Nigerians are extremely poor. Poverty rate is pegged around 40%. Almost 62% of households in Nigeria consider themselves to be poor as they struggle with body-slamming typhoid that slays men for drinking unclean and untreated water. And malaria drowns their health for laying down their heads in mosquito strongholds. Almost non-existent is an ordinary Nigerian’s access to food that will nourish their bone and marrow.
At every election season, hopes of the hopeless millions around us get a jumpstart because the people sheepishly fantasise about one man who wants to be president. To them, he is a one-man-saving-crew. Readers, not one man is able to change Nigeria. One magic-man cannot heal a systemic ailment. Nigeria’s afflictions are in systemically surfeit supply. With ease and justifiably so, we blame the nation’s woes on a sitting President. And then we throw him out of office. And a new one steps in. The systemic purulent waters later choke up the new kid-on-the-block President and his agenda. He too begins to gasp for breath of presidential survival. But he is doing business in a stinking water flow of status quo corruption and other vices. Magic is not rooted in truth and reality. It is an optic illusion. It is an ocular fantasy and phantasm. Nigerians need to stop looking for a leader who will perform magic. They must search for one who will perform.
Nigeria’s system is a dream-killing maddening machine which has killed our highways and byways. It has turned our hospitals into concentration camps where death is buy-one-get-one-free endeavour. In one Nigerian hospital a few years ago, a pregnant woman was allowed to die with the baby in her womb because her husband could not pay the required upfront hospital bill. What kind of sane system allows her citizens to die so cheaply? Why must money always trump compassion and beneficence in our nation? Another friend lost his twins in utero because the family couldn’t pay the required fees on time. His wife survived, and the family quickly learnt not to be broke when expecting a baby. Who has bewitched Nigeria?
In the last 10 years, a whopping sum close to N3tn was budgeted for healthcare alone. Yet, when Nigerians visit our hospitals, they gnash their teeth in pain and suffering. Former Nigerian presidents travel to Germany annually to change their eyeglasses. Politicians come to America for annual bloodwork. Rich fellas who have got wealthy from a corrupt system have stand-by doctors in London and Houston attending to their entire families. And sitting presidents and governors travel abroad monthly to check on their health statuses. But for the rest of the people, hospitals have become abattoirs where men, women and children are slaughtered, and nobody sheds a drop of tears in mourning. Nigeria, who has bewitched you?
Nigeria’s growth and development are beyond a particular man as President. The scream for who should be President is just more of emotional dance than reality footsteps. Nigeria is a dysfunctional and decrepit piece of crap and scraps that must be fixed. If not, Nigerians who have no access to America, London, Germany, and other developed countries where things work are the ones in trouble. These people who have no access to cash are the ones marked for death in hospitals without medicine. They are the ones whose lives will be cut short by typhoid and malaria. They are the ones who will be depended on to vote. And they are the same cohort that will surrender to money offered by men of means who just want to get richer from elective offices. Nigeria has been bewitched! But, by who?
The bewitchment signs are everywhere. Are you a contractor who builds roads and bridges? Are you a supplier of technological software and hardware searching for business opportunities in Nigeria? Are you ready to surrender to cumshaw? You must bribe before you get a “Yes” for an answer. At every stage of the contract negotiation, you must cough up money that you may not have. Applying for a loan in the Nigerian bank for your small business may require consenting to giving up a certain portion of the debt to loan processors. Bewitched!
In stable political and economic environments, it is easy to predict the future and plan for the next 50 years almost without error. But living and doing business in Nigeria are like fighting guerilla warfare. In guerilla warfare, you don’t know when you get killed or maimed. In Nigeria, a rich and affluent man today can become the unbecoming tomorrow. Who has bewitched Nigeria for God’s sake? To survive a bewitched Nigeria, the fluffiest part of the organ of your bodily endowment must be made of iron and steel. The neurotransmitters in the weird and wild connective web of your human brain must not be in a state of dysfunction. If you want to be steady in Nigeria, you must be ready for the unsteady. Nigeria is unsteady and unstable; who will help stabilise and keep the bewitched steady? Who bewitched Nigeria? Nigerians themselves have bewitched Nigeria; and Nigerians alone can switch off the bewitchment when they are ready.
Follow me @folaojotweet