The main talking points as we mark the 62nd Independence Anniversary of our beloved country Nigeria today would surely revolve around the political campaigns of 2023 and the current state of the country. There are those who would look back on the past seven years and five months of the Buhari administration and draw subjects – such subjects which would depict their varying feelings on how Nigeria has been for them under Buhari and various issues. It will definitely be different strokes for different people. Many will regard their experiences in our national economic life as an imprescriptible right to judge the government because it cuts deeply. Many others would also look at Nigeria through the prism of security, infrastructure, corruption, education, health and general administration for the same reason. Whatever angle you look at Nigeria during this celebration, I think we are totally dependent.
At 62, Nigeria is deeply dependent, barely making ends meet as an independent economy. Then there are those who are totally dependent on Nigeria. It’s a cycle of addiction – kind of a lice-on-the-dog situation. Such people are like the proverbial egret by which Ovonramwen Nogbaisi described colonialist foragers. At 62, Nigeria survives almost solely on borrowings from almost everywhere. In this dispensation of Buhari, Nigeria’s outstanding external debt has grown much more in size than it was when the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo felt the need to rid itself of the country’s burden. Chief Obasanjo must have thought deeply about his origin and a saying that it is not a virtue to wear the crown of debt while you flaunt prosperity.
In fact, life is a cycle of addiction. Life is a cycle of give and take. We thrive in this time-tested ecosystem that shows fish eat fish to fatten up, and the hard-working sandy hand will bring the delicious fat mouth. In the Kegites Club it is passed on as knowledge, this tact, which helps you through life, is part of cariability, a way of life. The Kegites Club Nigeria, National Headquarters, taught us that tact and skill in difficult situations, called BBHS, is ‘karid’.
However, there must be a limit to addiction. When you win some and I win some, the game would be more exciting and competitive. It is also an eternal truth that when a child is mature enough to own a hoe, he must own a hoe. Nigeria turns 62 today and shouldn’t be dependent when it comes to some basic necessities of life. There are many visible spheres of corporate life in Nigeria that shamefully deny many truths about life.
Tayo is the main character in Sarah Ladipo Mayinka’s 2008 novel, “In Dependence”. The title of this beautiful work has a set of meanings, and it came in handy in laying the life of Nigeria at 62 on my table. Tayo’s life unfolds like Nigeria, I mean Nigeria born on Saturday, October 1, 1960. A character analysis says that Tayo is a strong, smart, and gifted man but he always seems to be on the wrong side of everything. “He always seems to do evil.” The novel is a study in the eternal problems of love and betrayal; gender, race and what might be their common denominator: confidence. These issues so plague Nigeria; and they seem to be getting worse as Nigeria ages. It is beyond the lack of trust in successive governments, it is more in the lack of love and betrayal of the government and various political leaders, visited on the citizens.
By the country’s next independence anniversary, October 1, 2023, Nigeria would hopefully have a new democratic government of the people by the people and for the people. By then, Nigerians may be privileged to truly experience that indeed, the Buhari government has left us at our lowest ever debt to income ratio as a country. At present, the government is trying hard to make the country’s economic problems look like those facing the whole world. Efforts are being made to make things look like this, but many savvy people, especially unbiased Nigerians, know that we are in our own particular kind of mess. Few Nigerians can see that the truly competent defense and apology of concerned government officials and random supporters is now so scattered that it can be easily seen through like an uncurtained window.
Yet daily reports point to growing insecurity, debilitating debt and crippling inflation. A recent report cites stakeholders in the country’s agriculture sector who lament that 84% of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet or three full meals a day. The group known as the “Sahel Food Systems Changemakers” blamed the development on “insecurity, climate change, micro-economic challenges and the recent war between Ukraine and Russia”. Two of the causal factors are in our hands, but what do we have? Group Vice President (AGRA Innovation and Delivery Program), Ms. Aggie Konde, said, “Insecurity has contributed to 30-40% of the hunger the country is currently experiencing. The group observed that “farmers cannot go to the field. If we don’t have land for farmers, obviously there’s going to be hunger. I think we knew all that, the powers that be are just aloof while their followers are drunk on being politically correct. It is a clue on the way to continued addiction in the immediate and near future.
Some other actions of the current administration to hasten Nigeria’s steps on the road to dependency relate to the sphere of debts – foreign and domestic. In this respect, we are profoundly not independent. We are absolutely dependent on our foreign and local creditors. Nigeria’s debts are mind-boggling, and we’ve rescinded Yoruba’s warning to debtors as we keep running for more. As a teaser, in June this year we are at 42 trillion naira in domestic debt. The President only recently approached the Senate to ask for N402 billion in promissory notes. The states of the federation borrowed 820 billion naira in six months as their debts reached the ceiling of 5.28 trillion naira. We are resilient when it comes to seeking to borrow, and we have flowery words to elucidate the abyss into which money has sunk.
The country will depend on more than quality leadership from the end of the Buhari administration. But it’s a very good place to start the process or get our country back on track. We can accomplish a lot more than we have in the past seven years, and we need good leadership as a springboard.
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