Friday, January 13, 2012
Africa, o Africa!
“My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” – 1Kings 12:11
For a writer, Africa is both immensely fascinating and infuriatingly repelling. The hugely blessed and beautiful continent that could enthrall so magically is equally capable of aggravating one to death. The same continent that is so full of pleasant surprises could also makes one want to pull one’s air out in anguish.
Where else on earth but Africa do people so lack consideration for their fellow human beings that they think nothing of organizing religious jamborees in the middle of the night with drums, shouts and wailings?
And should one be bold enough and dare to confront the pastor or pastoress (or prophet or prophetess) about the illegality being committed in the name of religion; one is met with incredulous stares and dubious questions of why one is against the preaching of Jesus Christ.
“No, I am not against the preaching of Jesus or anyone, but I just would like to sleep.”
“But we are worshipping god.”
“You don’t have to worship your god at ungodly hours.”
“Ah, but we can worship god at any time.”
“You most certainly can, but in the confine of your home and without disturbing my sleep. It should be possible to talk to your god without all the pantomime of noises.”
“We don’t make noise, we praise god. That is all we do.”
“With nightly drums and shouting?”
“It is written in the Bible.”
There are laws in this country against noise-making after certain hours. There are laws in the land against citing of places of worship in residential areas. But it seems like, in the name of imported religions, our people can break laws as they wish and with the law-enforcement agents not doing a darn thing about it.
It looks like professing to worship any of the alien religions we have in Africa is license to break the law at will. And it also looks like people have been made to reconcile themselves into the unholy and ungodly behavior of having their sleeps truncated by shameless charlatans who pretend to stand between man and his creator.
Why can’s people get it into their heads that their freedom stop at other people’s noses? Why is it so difficult for modern Africans to know that taking other people’s feelings into consideration should form part of a good upbringing? We were brought up to respect other people’s rights. So, why can’t many people nowadays learn that it is just simple etiquette not to unduly aggravate one’s neighbours? Why is it so difficult to accept that laws are not mere suggestions, but are made to be obeyed?
And when are we in Africa going to realize that discipline is a pre-requisite for an orderly society and is the foundation of all civilizations?
African politics is another bewildering phenomenon. Callousness and insensitive does not even begin to describe our political class in Africa.
Our politicians always manage to collar large chunk of national budgets for their upkeep; no long-winded debates or party divisions there. Almost every political appointee in the land gets, apart from basic salary, free accommodation, transportation and other emoluments.
Even with all the outrageous pay and emoluments they awarded themselves, the rapacious and thoroughly avaricious political class takes absolutely no interest in solving any of the myriads of problems confronting the society.
And hefty paychecks are surely no guarantee that our politicians will stop from dipping their filthy hands into the national kitty as evidenced by the numerous scandals splashed in our media.
Without any sense of shame whatever, politicians in Ghana take pride in boasting about who between them is able to garner the largest loan.
It is only in Africa that people will beat chest in congratulations for ability to negotiate a US$3 billion loan from China, totally forgetting that modern China is just eleven years older than our dear republic.
And notwithstanding the mouth-watering pay they get, all our politicians apparently do was wage useless media war against one another - contributing their quota to unnecessarily raising the level of anxiety in the land.
At the end of their unmeritorious four-year term, these political jobbers splash themselves with ultra generous severance pay and what they term ex-gratia.
No one bother to tell the citizens what they ought to be grateful for. Little wonder that politics has become a do-or-die affair in Africa, or is it do-and-die?
Nigerian and Kenyan politicians are believed to be the highest paid in the world. While Kenya seems to be finding its way, Nigeria is clearly a failed state tottering on break-up as the Americans predicted it would in 2015.
Today in Nigeria, citizens are mouthing what is considered unthinkable just few years ago: “The soldiers must come back.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, the first Nigerian leader to brandish a Ph.D, is clearly a man totally out of his depth. He is as visionless as he is clueless and he is totally bereft of ideas.
Nigeria has never been blessed with great leadership, but Lucky Joe’s regime is such a monumental failure that it defies categorization.
Nigeria has never had it so bad. Not even at the height of the civil war did the generality of Nigerians feel as insecure and as helpless as they are today. And not since the twilight of the Gowon’s regime has the country been as rudderless as it is today.
Despite billions of naira voted for security, lives of Nigerians are being snuffed out like cheap candles.
It is sad to watch such a beautiful and once-promising country like Nigeria reduced to its present sorry state.
Until few years ago, few Nigerians would have believed it possible that their nation would become the Iraq or Afghanistan of West Africa. And until recent years, few would have believed that seemingly fun-crazed Nigerians will spawn suicide-bombers.
And while his (let’s settle for his country) is collapsing around him, Lucky Joe is fiddling. He spent his first few months pre-occupied with campaign for tenure elongation. Precious presidential time was spent canvassing that the idea that a four-year term was too short.
And whilst Boko Haram terrorists rain bombs on Nigerians, their president was rather focused on removing IMF-inspired so-called fuel subsidy.
Several civic organisations have rubbished the idea that the Nigerian government in any way subsidized fuel in the country. They have published data to show that fuel is most expensive in Nigeria among OPEC members. Their data clearly shows that the selling price at N65 per liter is way above the production cost.
Yet, while pretending to be negotiating with stake-holders, Lucky Joe announced the removal.
And the timing, good gracious!
Even were the arguments for the removal of fuel subsidy not to be so specious, the timing is simply atrocious. Does it have to be announced when Nigerians are busy trying to enjoy their New Year holidays? And does it have to be announced at a time of heightened security tension in the country?
Would a two or even four weeks delay break the economy?
Talking about breaking economy, what could be more economy-bursting than the latest budget that Lucky Joe presented?
While the Nigerian government was parroting the IMF-scripted nonsense about fuel subsidy, the Nigerian budget contained provision for the following items as published by a Nigerian paper:
• N280 million for two bullet proof Mercedes Benz saloon 600 E Guard at N140 million each
• N356.72 million for new vehicles in the presidential fleet
• 5 Mercedes Benz 350 (semi plain/partial bullet proof) at N25 million each, 10 jeeps (assorted - Range Rover, Prado and Land Cruiser) at N10 million each, and accessories for these vehicles will cost N25 million
• N57.43 million to upgrade facilities at the Presidential Villa
• N127.50 million to overhaul power generating sets
• N512.385 million to refurbish the family wing of the main residence
• N385.35 million for land reclamation at the State House Medical Centre
• N101.67 million for the rehabilitation of transformer substation in the villa
• N97.95 million for extension/expansion of State House car parks (The more SUVs and cars you accumulate the more ground you need to park them in!)
• N108 million for communication equipment at the Villa, Dodan Barracks and vice president's guest house
• N36.88 million to rehabilitate presidential/ministerial chalet at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, despite spending/budgeting N48 million for this last year
• N52.87 million to rehabilitate 10 presidential houses on Ibrahim Taiwo Street, Abuja, despite allocating/spending N101 million
• N530.57 million to rehabilitate the State House and Dodan Barracks, despite spending/allocating N628.64 million this year on the two properties
• N357.731 million for repairs and renovation of the administrative building at the Villa, despite allocating/spending N302.29 million on this last year
• N62.23 million for the rehabilitation of the banquet hall dome roof, despite allocating/spending N81 million on the roof last year
• N992.57 million for feeding the president and the vice president
So, while the elite shamelessly plead with citizens to tighten their belts, they are busy splashing the country’s wealth on their lavish lifestyles.
And Lucky Joe who told tale of going to school sans shoes to win elections, today is budgeting one billion naira to feed himself and his deputy!
Nigerians are rightly asking questions. Top of these are:
1. What has the government done with all the oil and other revenues it collected over the years?
2. And what happened to the US$41 billion dollars debt the government borrowed since its inception in 2007, having inherited zero debt from the Obasanjo governmnet?
3. Why has the foreign reserve being depleted from US$80 billion to US$33 billion and what has the money been used for?
It is difficult to argue with those that says Goodluck Jonathan is the worst ever president in Nigeria - a country that has had its share of truly appalling rulers.
Here was a man who is facing immense security challenges from the Boko Haram insurgency, but decided to add more to his problem by, literally, throwing down a gauntlet to his own people.
Luck Joe has 36 ministers and is said to have more than one hundred advisors, including one for beans and Cassava affais. Why can’t a single one of these so-called advisors tell the Bossman that removal of so-call oil subsidy will galvanise the populace like no other idiotic thing? Why can’t they tell him that it is only an insane and utterly stupid general that seek unnecessary fight while waging a major battle.
Now lucky Joe is forced to use the security people who should be confronting the menace of Boko Haram to face and beat up Nigerians protesting an ill-advised and wrongly timed provocation.
Cry the beloved country!
Happy New year to everyone.