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The story of a country called Nigeria

09 September 2013, 14:13 Ogbeide Osa Kennedy

I was young but grown up, I had left the university and even through with my masters degree program, I was consider old enough to have a girl friend if not a wife, I met this young lady who I am really fond of, she was a lot younger and my perfect match so I thought. We were an instant hit as we were both connected like the tale from the mid summer night dream. We had a normal relationship and at some point it was natural for ‘’sex’’ to come in between us, she told me she was a virgin and that kind of thrilled me more, it made me feel on top of the world, I was so elated and I scream loud for everyone to hear about it.

I decided to love her more, shielding her and protecting her, alas the D day came and we did it. I thought as with the case with ‘’Virgin’’ that I must see a bed sheet stained with blood or at least a proof of it but none came, I was perplexed and felt empty. She noticed I wasn’t quite elated like before and she wanted to know why. I asked her a simple question, "I thought you were a virgin or aren’t you and her replied was well I think I am, but wait a minute I once had a fall while trying to cross a gutter when I was younger some few years back and perhaps that might accounted for my losing my virginity."

Well I had to carry on through with a feeling of emptiness, I didn’t know how to explain to my friends or share my experience with the same girl I have boasted about, some actually came to asked me how did it go, I only nodded that it was exactly as I was told, so I had to continue. So in 1914 there was an amalgamation of two people who thought love existed but later both found out that they could have chosen to broke up or simply walk away rather than eventually going into a force relationship leading to marriage. 46 years down the line that relationship bore the first fruit and that was in 1960 when Nigeria became an independent nation.

We all thought with the independent that the country will indeed become independent in all ‘’sense’’ independent of all societal vices, such as official corruption, corruption, wastefulness, gross indiscipline, looting and stealing of government funds, unemployment , total dependencies on other countries for virtually every items we need as a nation. Every marriages certainly have its own up and down the shares of the good and bad, but what can we say of a marriage that brought the likes of Akinloye, Umaru Dikko, Akinjide, Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Nadama, Obasanjo, Solomon Lar, the many who has been there since in the 70’s and who are still gracefully gracing the center stage, when we were young, it was a popular saying that we the youth were the leaders of tomorrow, then it was the IBB, the Abachas, the Babatope’s, etc, now I am of age and old the same people are still are leaders , isn’t this a paradox.

But can anyone blame them when in the so called youth the system has thrown up the likes of James Ibori who is now languishing in jail, Ibori wife and mistress as well as Ibori sister. The same Ibori had previously been “tried” in Nigeria, in a flawed and dangerous process in the Delta State capital, Asaba, in which he was practically allowed by the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, whom he had sponsored to the presidency, to choose his trial format and outcome.

He was acquitted of all of the 170 charges he faced, and Ibori flew out of Asaba to the University of Benin in nearby Edo State—where he graduated with a Third Class--to give a Founders’ Day lecture. The conviction of Ibori in the UK comes one day after Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed to win an effort to become President of the World Bank. That returns her to Nigeria and turns the focus back on the chaos that continues to be inflicted on the cause of Nigeria’s development by corrupt forces such as Mr. Ibori, many of them within the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Today the world bank expert and the the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said the spate of unemployment in the country is giving her sleepless nights and also causing her severe headache I am sure by her standard it has defiled solution and so Nigerians should just watch on and those who can afford it should leave the shores of the country in what is today better known as brain drain for those who are versatile and intelligent enough while others add up in presenting the country in bad light with their nefarious activities such as robbery, drugs cartel, prostitution etc. What about the likes of Lucky Igbinedion who stole everything except the government house in Edo State, what about Victor Attah the former governor of Akwa Ibom state, the list is endless and they ought to be product of today’s youth.

The youth have failed, the elderly one who are now old have not fair better and they still do anything possible to still hold on to powers and refuse to leave until death takes them away. As I re-evaluate this relationship call marriage I am force to cry as I remember what recently our incumbent president, his Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did in recent time WHEN Nigeria dispatched a jet from its Presidential Air Fleet to fetch Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda, to Abuja, it unwittingly drew attention to our government’s fiscal recklessness. It was lost on President Goodluck Jonathan that while Banda had sold her cash-strapped country’s only presidential jet to save costs, he has, in three years in office, expanded Nigeria’s executive fleet to 10 aircraft.

Neither the reality of over 68 per cent of the population living in poverty, nor the recent alarming revelation by the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that government’s revenue inflow had dwindled to a dangerous level, has persuaded Jonathan to pare down the size of the Presidential Air Fleet. Instead, it is projected to rise as provision has reportedly been made to purchase two additional helicopters to ensure the President, Vice-President, their families, and other top functionaries travel in luxury at public expense.

Banda was in Nigeria to deliver the keynote address at the Global Power Women Network Africa summit in Abuja at the invitation of Nigeria’s First Lady. To ease her trip to Nigeria’s capital, our generous government dispatched a jet to pick her from Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, and return her home after the event. That is to be expected since Malawi lacks a presidential aircraft.

Shortly after assuming the presidency in 2012, Banda had taken a critical look at her country’s economy. Almost 40 per cent of the national budget came from aid donors, while revenues from its major exports – tobacco, tea, coffee and sugar – were falling due to lower global demand and prices. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had withdrawn most aid in response to the purchase in 2009 of a presidential jet by Banda’s predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, and his abandonment of an IMF-dictated adjustment programme. Other donors followed the World Bank/IMF lead.

Besides selling the presidential plane for $15 million, Banda also sold off a fleet of 35 Mercedes Benz limousines reserved for the president and the cabinet. She cut her own salary by 30 per cent, among other austerity measures. Her actions won praise around the world and convinced the IMF and other aid donors to return with credit and handouts to back the government’s ongoing painful structural adjustment programme.

But Nigerian leaders will not sacrifice their own comfort for anything. Even in a rich country like Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron and cabinet members took pay cuts in response to the global recession and the spending cuts that the government introduced. Here, our leaders are obsessed with living in luxury, regardless of the mass of people who are poor, the lack of infrastructure, mass unemployment and dwindling revenues. Okonjo-Iweala’s warning that the government may run out of money to pay salaries by October in the face of massive oil theft and vandalism of pipelines that have sharply reduced oil production and revenues has not jolted officials. Neither the wasteful Executive nor the overpaid legislators are ready to give up their luxurious lifestyles. The president himself who has no shoes at a point in time is also a product of today’s youth.

What then is wrong with this marriage called Nigeria. Is it a curse to have gone into an unholy alliance, is it that we ate a forbidden fruit, is it that we missed it at some point. I thought there was a time even in this marriage when we use to practice federalism. Our country is facing serious crisis and our leaders and our elites are living in denial of this serious crisis.
When we were a country of four regions, we were developing faster with all the sectors in each region doing so well.
Think of the achievements of this country then, the Universal Primary Education in western region, the agricultural development in Northern Nigeria and the Industrial revolution in the Eastern region.

I believe we should go back to a federation of six units, where the six geo-political zones will develop at its own pace; that will solve two of our major problems. We should transform the nature of our politics because our politics today breeds the culture of corruption which is the biggest evil that is facing our country.

We must return to politics that rediscovers the values of hard work and that money is not everything. Nigerians, however, desperately need a government that exists to serve the people, not a few. Successive governments have demonstrated incompetence and abused and misused public funds. There should be minimum ethical standards and decorum in public office. Other developing nations like Ghana where a former president, John Kufuor, once disposed of a spare presidential aircraft, retaining only one, should shame us into prudent conduct.

Jonathan has no excuse to continue keeping 10 aircraft and our under-performing legislators have no reason to keep approving new purchases or the billions of naira they appropriate for their maintenance each year. But, ultimately, it is only when the electorate shakes off its lethargy and demands accountability and responsibility from public officials that things will change for the better.

A marriage of 99 years old and in another one year from now will be a centurion cannot continue to crawl, we ought to have learn and rediscover ourselves, we ought to have forgotten and forgiven that we were mislead into the marriage on the basis of virginity, we have to change our destiny and become destiny changers, we all have a role to play, the elderly one who has refuse to leave the political landscape, the youth who have lost focus and see politics as the quickest way to amass wealth, the ideas that once you occupied an official position you immediately becomes a LEADER rather than a PUBLIC SERVANT. Our orientation must change and it starts with you and I, who are products of the marriage called NIGERIA.

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