By David Emoche
28-year-old Endurance Omeyo grew up without a kobo to his name in Uromi, Edo State. Unable to get a well-paying job, he resolved to escape the overwhelming hardship in 2016 through the sands and waters with the hope of scaling the borders of Italy.
Unfortunately, Omeyo’s expectation was cut short when he was arrested on the sea and thrown into a Libyan Prison. His dreams were not only caged and broken, but his leg was also amputated as a result of a gunshot wound that wouldn’t heal. Omeyo embarked on his endurance trek with two legs, but returned to his country with one leg and a crushed dream.
Omeyo, and several other Libya returnees like Bridget Akeama, an indigene of Anambra, Stanley Iduh, Paul and Marvellous Isikhuemhe are few among the Nigerians who desperately searched for greener pastures. Whether home or abroad, Libya or Lagos, millions of Nigerians are taking the Hobson’s choice daily to become slaves, as long as their daily bread is secured. Ripped of all pride and self-worth, they bury their creativity and ingenuity: those are not always appreciated within our borders anyway.
Although there are agitations from all groups to go after the human traffickers, this is not the end to the mayhem that slowly engulfs the so-called giant of Africa. Going after traffickers is undoubtedly a good move; however, we should thank the present government and the group of confused misfits we call leaders for this mess.
It is indubitable that economic hardship, and several other development challenges such as unemployment, is not unique to Nigeria and has been with us for years. However, it seems the nation crashed into the worst economic crisis since the wake of democracy under President Muhammadu Buhari. Though the government insists it is waging war against corruption, this does not seem to have yielded economic growth or the expected “change”.
We need not go too far down memory lane to pick the trashes that this regime has gathered for us. A lot has changed between 2015 and 2017. According to World Bank, Nigeria’s economy under President Goodluck Jonathan with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Coordinating Minister was much better than now. Though Buhari is fighting corruption, Transparency International says corruption is worse today. The Global Hunger Index believes Nigerians are hungrier today than ever.
Nigeria moved from fourth most terrorized nation in the world in 2015 to third most terrorized nation in the Global Terrorism Index for 2017.
Furthermore, under President Muhammadu Buhari, the United Nations reveals that there has been a massive increase in the number of Nigerians fleeing Nigeria via the desert with 602,000 leaving annually and 27,000 dying every year either in the Sahara Desert or on the Mediterranean Sea.
Nigerians that became unemployed rose from 8.036 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 15.998 million in the third quarter of 2017 under the Buhari regime.
With these reports and statistics, I agree with the position of Nigerians like Alhaji Sule Lamido, a former Jigawa State Governor, and Engr Yahaya Sani, National Chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP) that the All Progressive Party (APC) was not prepared for leadership. APC wanted power and change of government without any plan to lead the nation into prosperity.
Lamido described APC as a “formation of hate, envy and frustration… a creation of sinners” which should not be in government. Sani firmly believes that APC “did not come to lead, but they came to change government; all that they wanted was to get power, they didn’t plan.” In other words, APC is just a fluke.
Growth is a Trend, not a Fluke, says Okonjo-Iweala
Whether this government accepts this or not, the fact remains that the formation of the party, and the strategies being employed to combat the Nigerian realities are haphazard. This, obviously, is not useful for the growth of any nation. According to the former Finance Minister of Nigeria who spoke at a TED Talk, African growth is a trend, not a fluke. In other words, growth is over time, and not an abracadabra-like sudden transformation. Therefore, for any government to succeed, leaders must key into the continuum without having to bin the good ideas and labour of the previous regimes.
The main problem of the Buhari-led administration is the political disdain for the opposition to the extent that they do not stop at castigating the personalities of the opposition and whoever served the regime. They also irrationally criticise the brilliant economic policies even when they could clearly see the positive effects such policies have had on the Nigerian state. Although they may later accept and implement them, they lash them at first to defend their selfish interests and ambition.
One of such is the removal of fuel subsidy introduced by Okonjo-Iweala. This was brutally criticised and booed during Jonathan’s administration but was eventually adopted at the outset of Buhari’s administration. The effect of this incessant hatred and rivalry has been severe on Nigeria’s polity and socioeconomic ecosystem.
Nigeria is filled with hope and opportunities, but we will continue to roam in poverty, unemployment, inequality, economic recession and corruption if we fail to put aside the political differences. The past administration achieved some milestones that the present administration needs to manage and build upon to achieve the best.
A key to correct leadership is learning to manage success, most especially those of his/her predecessor. Jonathan’s administration was able to design blueprints for job creation, governance, economic growth, infrastructural development, security and so on. While these may not be fully-fledged in modalities, nevertheless, the foundation is there to build upon.
As we begin a new year, and 2019 general elections draw closer, APC and other political parties need to understand that the growth of Nigeria and the development of every Nigerian is far greater than the growth and permanence of any political party. Parties don’t make the nation, citizens do. Therefore, the government should pay close attention to the interest of the people and not their personal ambitions.
A government that is conscious of the interest and needs of the people is required to deliver the Nigerians from the enslavement we find ourselves in. Enough of the slavery; Nigerians need not risk their lives through the desert and the sea, only to end up enslaved because they are unfortunate citizens of a country where the government cares little about its people. Leaders should be more responsible to the oath of office for service and patriotism.
I hope that the new year brings about a positive turn in our economy and governance. However, the cross is for everyone to bear.
Happy New Year!
David Emoche is a Public Analyst from Makurdi, Benue State.