The Oasis Reporters
May 25, 2020
By Tony Abolo
While many countries are thinking of post – COVID stimulus packages for their economies, Nigeria is still wallowing in lock-ups and lockdowns and extensions thereof.
We are still holding meetings to decide on Economic Sustainability, through a Vice President chaired Economic Sustainability Committee. Fancy stuff, fancy name!! As if the nomenclature will put food on the table of 199 million Nigerians.
Nigeria is a strange, very strange country. It could be better. But it cannot, simply because the domineering Fulani neo-colonialists, want it in their shape of mind; archaic, primitive, unprogressive and unthinking. There is no clear agenda to move us from the primitive 13th Century mind unto a 21st Century not to talk of 22nd century.
How can, with an 84 year old leader, in the inner recesses of Aso Villa, who is busy recruiting his clansmen and fundamentalists and now with a recent 75 year old Chief of Staff (hopefully, that is the real age), what future thinking can we expect?
I have a book titled “Thinking Backwards”. It means something else, alright, but the title aptly depicts the kind of thinking that can emanate from Aso Rock in the new backwards thinking.
While tiny Madagascar has gone ahead with its COVID-Organics, big for nothing Nigeria, with its Epidemiologists, Pharmacognocists, Virologists, Infectious Diseases Doctors still await a go ahead for a nod that may never come from the cold recesses of Aso Rock.
Why should such persons be funded for researches and breakthroughs for Nigeria when Buhari needs every Kobo for his school feeding program for students on lockdown at home and for his Lawyer led COVID 19, Presidential Task Force? They can keep waiting. In any case, is there any northerner amongst the eminent scientists. So, why the bother?
And so COVID-19 is on. In Benin, Hausa Quarters was sealed up pending when the residents would yield to community testing. That is the intention and the statement of Government.
But what do the Hausa community interpret the action as?
A resident tells me, “Edo State Government says, all Hausa wey dey sell albasa (onions) and tomatoes should not sell again?. Fancy the mindset of the uneducated!!!“ When I prodded further, the response I got was – “You test you die, you nor test, you die”. Logic, informed by unenlightened mindset that is driven by stoic philosophy. Can we all really continue to stay in the same country with this thinking ?
I am amused at the spate of congratulatory messages being sent by politicians, especially from Edo State to the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari. It is not hard to know what their intentions are. But come.
Since when has an unconstitutional position of a Chief of Staff become so meaningful that politicians want to hang on to it to show relevance, “fake love”, and hopefully, it gains them ascendancy in their ambitions? Funny lot they all are.
A Chief of Staff is no more than a Head of Administration, a head clerk, a Personal Assistant, no matter what anybody wants to make of Professor Gambari. It is only in Nigeria that political positions take a life of their own and assume larger life than they should be.
A Governor or a President are what? Mere Heads of Public Service Bureaucracy.
Here we adore and worship them. This is why they do nothing important for four years and consider every official act as a favour of graciousness to the people who are their electors and masters. “What a cheek!!!”.
After eight years of Buhari, I wonder what he would be remembered for?
Obasanjo after eight years left us with a lasting wide ranging impactful GSM. In fact, but for that revolution, Buhari could not be doing any COVID-19 era video or audio conferencing.
Still asking, what in eight years and after, would Buhari be remembered for? As one who went about with sacks of Ghana – must – go bags distributing billions to persons we are yet to ascertain are the poorest of the poor and as someone with plastic plates and spoons, feeding non schooling children in their homes and spending about N697 million a day under the guise of school feeding programme?
Ambition, Shakespeare said, should be made of sterner stuff. In a riposte twist, I would say in this school feeding program, at a time the Federal Treasury is running empty, fraud and “wayo” can be better designed and not so patent like this. Or is this Nigerian style socialism?
Nothing proves it better that a past time habit of Nigerian Governments is telling lies. 22 or so Chinese arrived Nigeria in late March 2020. They were received at the Airport by the Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. We were told they came to assist with the pandemic as they are said to possess great experience with treatment and recovery in the COVID 19 pandemic patients. When the media enquired where they were, after a month, we are told they were technicians and no longer medical personnel and that they came to work with CCECC, a Chinese construction firm working on Federal Government projects. Asking further, we are told they have run out of their visa stay. Next, they cannot leave because there are no outbound flights? Who granted them visas in the first place? Who flew them in? What and where is the truth of the Chinese COVID-19 travelers?
Just when you think, you are through and through with the leadership of this country, there is one more insane act. How could we in the wake of a drop in or lack of crude oil sales, less income, impending job losses, all the Federal Government could do by scaling down on the Federal Budget is a 10% cut of its total expenditure from its original 2020 Budget. That amount represents a 0.6% cut. Clearly this is a country that has lost its head? Do we have serious so called leaders, anywhere in Nigeria? Are there thinking people in governance in Nigeria?
Lastly, as I sit musing about things, whenever I hear of the Kajuru killings in Kaduna State and the massive Almajirai movements from the North to the South, against the Presidential directive barring crossing State boundaries, I keep asking myself, does Buhari hear of these events?
And if he does, what goes on in his mind, beyond his next nepotistic and Northern based appointment or picking his teeth from a stubborn day before “Suya”, as we once saw in the famous inside sitting room photograph?
Does he consider Southern sensibilities or the core issues of securing the land? I just wonder about his mindset or the musings in his mind – like I too i’m musing now.
Tony Abolo is a broadcast trainer, former University lecturer, ex BBC Brussels correspondent and public relations practitioner.