The Yoruba phrase akoko wa ni is the closest to awalokan meaning (it is our turn)—I really do not know, but I remain a cautious optimist about the Nigerian project. At the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. This is number nine, and three more to go.
Nigeria has three musketeers plus one as flag bearer come the General Elections, all elites, all part of the problems yet all coming cap in hands proffering solutions to problems they are largely part of.
For me, I have never ceased to say that you cannot build something on nothing, there is no amount of emotions that can solve the Nigerian malaise, the conversation and engagement around Muslim-Muslim ticket, or the globetrotting meetings of gladiators in other climes looking for solutions to problems that are of our own making.
My nation is at ease, historically in recent times, animals have made away with a very scary amount of money. When will it be our turn when the agriculture ministry spends N18.9B to clear bush according to the House of Representatives. Whose turn was it when almost half a billion was spent on school feeding while there was a COVID-19 Lockdown just in two states and the FCT Abuja.
The youths are worse hit, but whose turn is it really, when Festus Keyamo, a serving minister, states in public space that some N100 billion has been disbursed to unemployed youths, small businesses.
When will it be the turn of the masses, despite the fact that Mr. President has been Minister Extraordinaire for petroleum, three dormant refineries have left over N136 billion as operational deficits.
According to a Guardian report, the shutdown of 445,000-capacity refineries for two years kept the over 1,701 staff at the facilities, as rehabilitation for the Port Harcourt refinery took $1.5 billion and those of Warri and Kaduna took ancestral kolanut of $1.4 billion.
In August 2020, the total losses incurred by the refineries was N7,088 billion, it was N7,043 billion in September of the same year before moving to N5,489 billion in October. In November 2020, it went up to N5,995 billion and went further up to N8,279 billion in December that year.
In January 2021, the operational deficit was N5,371 billion, February recorded an N6,879 billion loss, N3,866 billion in March, N3,544 billion in April, and N5,243 billion in May, N4,014 billion in June, N3,752 billion in July and N3,819 billion in August 2021.
On average, NNPC spends, plus or minus, N68 billion in paying salaries and other expenses at the moribund refineries, yearly. In the last two years, the losses have amounted to an average of N136 billion.
And we in the same space of time have seen what a Dangote Refinery could finally look like, even with the same federal government investing in the same. In Nigeria many things we don’t understand…
I wonder who really had the turn, when a national carrier without any planes, no roadmap, was busy spending millions designing a logo and with seven years, five failed take offs, some N14.6b in four years, under 5% govt’s equity, the only Nigeria Air flying are our numerous problems as we head towards the 2023 taking on us like local witches.
I honestly hate to dabble into the Nigerian Government vs ASUU drama, but again, it is one of those slippery grounds that needs a robust conversation for whoever wants to lead this nation, sadly, without sounding pedestrian when I read that the United States (US) government has signed an agreement with the Federal Government to repatriate $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria.
The fund, which is tagged ‘Abacha-5’, was a product of a series of negotiations and meetings between Nigeria, the US Department of Justice and the United Kingdom (UK) National Crime Agency. Our money, yet it is not our turn.
According to our AGF, in line with the terms of this agreement, Mr. President had already approved the funds to be utilised for the ongoing Presidential Development Infrastructure Funds (PIDF), projects namely: Abuja-Kano Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge under the supervision of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
These are very important essentials but truth be told our sense of priorities is weak, our staying power is absent, I love Nigeria, we largely a people with a short fuse memory, preferring to largely forget very quickly from a point of learning slowly, we either never remember or we choose to totally forget.
We are a nation that has no staying power. We do not have the staying power to push through an issue or go through substance, our strength or determination to keep going until we reach the end of any matter is lacking.
Our deficit of staying power is deadly and often at the root of many of the problems we face.
Our case like the “Mocking bird, you are accused of insulting the king.” It asked when would it have time to insult the king, seeing that it must sing two hundred songs in the morning, two hundred in the afternoon, and two hundred at night, mixing it all up with some frolicsome notes?
One of the main reasons for our continuous failure is a lack of persistence. We live in a society where almost everything is “instant” and available on tap. This “instant” mentality robs many of us of the lucrative advantages of critical thinking and follow through on issues and subjects of national importance.
We are not able to grind something out until the desired outcome is achieved. That is why we are not tackling the educational problem that has become ASUU vs FG, no persistence, no consistency, but we are organizing one million marches all over the place for political elites that are exactly the problem, feigning solutions and deceiving the gullible us.
When will it really be the turn of the masses, do they the masses know what they want, Nigeria as a nation and her people has a poor persistence…the leadership and the people are birds of same plumage, there are reasons aplenty, excuses abound why this could not be done.
Let me end with this riddle; a man is wearing black, black shoes, socks, trousers, and gloves. He is walking down a black street with all the street lamps off. A black car is coming towards him, its lights off but somehow manages to stop in time.
How did the driver see the man? He saw the man because it was daytime.
When will it be the day for Nigeria, her leaders, and people to see through all our dramas and face the issues head on, indeed emilokan or awalokan—only time would tell. Read more.
Prince Charles Dickson, Ph.D. is the Team Leader of The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre). He is a development & media practitioner, a researcher, policy analyst, public intellect and a teacher.