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OBSERVATION: Aboard “One Chance”

OBSERVATION: Aboard “One Chance”
  • PublishedDecember 13, 2021

By Yaya Ademola

ALTHOUGH they had some privileges accorded them by the virtue of their offices, the ruling elite immediately after Nigeria’s independence rendered “unto Caesar what’s Caesar’s and gave to God what’s God’s.” The politicians and their parties had distinct ideologies, which guided government policies and programmes whenever and wherever they are the ruling party. To that extent, they provided conducive environment for people to thrive in whatever legitimate businesses and engagements, which made Nigeria and Nigerians to be productive with relative decent working and living conditions for majority of the people.

In that era, Naira was weighty and valued compared to other international currencies including Dollar and Pound Sterling. Foods and other consumables were easily accessible to majority. Although, it was no Eldorado, it was generally a “Garden of Eden” compared to the present “hellfire and damnation.” In those era, after flag independence up till 1980s, that set of ruling elite, both military and civilian, made attempts and policies to make farming attractable via “Operation Feed the Nation,” “Green Revolution,” etc. In fact, Cocoa House in Ibadan, Oyo State, a twenty six floor edifice operational in July 30, 1965 was built from the proceeds of agricultural commodities like Cocoa, Timber, Rubber of the then Western State of Nigeria.   By the end of second republic (1 October, 1979 – 31 December, 1983) when the military coup d’état truncated the civil rule, with  a very short and another truncated Republic via elections annulment – Third Republic (1992-1993), every government since the beginning of the fourth Republic (May 29, 1999) has been a scam: a ‘One Chance’ encounter, so to speak.

Apart from their nomenclatures, there is no fundamental ideological or visionary difference in their policies and programmes. This partly informs why the politicians switch from one party to another with ease especially between the two dominant parties – All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). On the surface, by its name and manifesto, APC claims to be a progressive party while PDP is adduced to be conservative. As at today, however, the difference between the two parties is the one between six and half a dozen. APC is peopled by renowned PDP and vice versa. 

From 1999 till 2015, PDP misruled Nigeria. Under its watch, “Stealing was not corruption.” Resources meant for progress and development found themselves in private politicians’ pockets with impunity which resulted into miserable life for the majority of the people.

In lieu of this situation, a savoir was needed. APC was a formidable opposition, giving alternatives to every bad policy of the PDP. It eventually manufactured a mantra: APC – Change! Based on frustration in the hands of the PDP, majority keyed into the slogan and voted en-mass for APC, which promised a better life. Some of APC’s promises were to tackling insecurity, expanding electricity generation and distribution and guarantee petroleum products supply at affordable prices among other lofty programmes for Nigerians. Six years having taken power from its PDP cousin, APC has made life more miserable that to eat a meal in a day has become extremely difficult for the vast majority of the people as prices of staple foods and other essentials have risen by an average of one hundred percent and taken away foods from the table of average people. An average meal from food vendors that used to cost between N400 and N500 per meal is now N1,000 and N1,200 without increase in income. This trend is applicable to every consumable. 12.5kg of cooking gas is N8,750 (Eight thousand, Seven hundred and fifty naira). Same to electricity and the government is said to be poised for more attacks any moment via increasing electricity tariffs and increasing the prices of petroleum products.

Majority of the people are unemployed as there are no openings and enabling environment to establish business, few that are privileged to be employed are living in hell as their pay can no longer pick their bills because of astronomical rise in the cost of living associated with increase in fuel price and electricity tariffs, insecurity, COVID-19, refusal of government to diversify economy and creating openings for production and productivity amongst others. Under the circumstance, to augment salary in order to be able to pick the rising bill, there must be increase in stealing and corruption, which unfortunately cut across government officials, security agencies, judiciary down to the market places and schools – everywhere! For the unemployed, crime that will translate to quick money becomes material force – kidnapping, ritual killings, cattle rustling, robberies, e.t.c. In Nigeria of today, government can no longer guarantee life and property – its core responsibility.

Where we have boarded ‘One Chance’ is that the Police that will arrest the criminal are also under pressure to augment their depreciated salary. They are prepared to compromise justice and society for money required to pay their bills. ‘One Chance’ is the use of a commercial vehicle to rob passengers of their belongings and pushing them out of the moving vehicle after the operation. It also includes using same method but for ritual purposes. This captures our situation in Nigeria today.

To say the least, there is famine and hunger in the land. How we have gotten here is not surprising as there were indicators pointing to this destination. What is surprising, however, is how the contemporary ruling elite have refused to do the needful in steering Nigeria ship to the direction of progress and development. Spate of insecurity had never been so horrible with attacks on security formations and public institutions among others. The present ruling elite cannot give what they don’t have and there seems to be no viable alternative political party that could, as at today, wrest power from these “iniquitous twins” – APC and PDP – at the national level. This is the challenge to the Nigerian electorate. What is to be done, either to rebuild and reconfigure any of these parties with a new operating system with visionary and humanitarian operators on the console, or fashion a fresh and formidable party and structure with tested and trusted leadership? There is less than 2 years to go, and there is no other democratic and peaceful way out of this traumatic cul-de-sac. 

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