For the past month, life in Nigeria has been colored with a most bleak palette. The culprits are many and varied, but the main ones are there to see, even for a blind man, as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, told a House of Reps committee sometime last month. Earlier invited before the committee, he was unable to appear. One of the Reps, apparently displeased with the explanation given, asked him to apologise. But the COAS didn’t budge, and reportedly said: “You said I offered an explanation; it is as good as an apology. It only tells you the reasons I’m here [for], and the reasons are cogent enough. Even the blind man knows there are problems of internal security in Nigeria.” The proverbial blind man within that statement stuck with me somehow, making me see things clearly. Oh, the irony.
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Anyways, in case you’re somehow late to the melee that Nigeria currently is, and has been for some years, let me list the biggest problems for you: insecurity, insecurity, and insecurity. Get it? I’m sure you do. This is because anything worth achieving – and I mean everything – is impossible to achieve when there isn’t security. Even the proverbial blind man invoked by the COAS can attest to that fact. Now, if you’re a regular reader, you will have known by now that I don’t host pity parties, or organize blame games. I say it as I see it, and the way I see it is that we have failed woefully as far as security is concerned. I’ll wait for trolls and blind supporters to finish frothing at the mouth, but just for about 10 seconds, then I’ll continue.
You see, the failure of security in our dear nation began long ago, thus making it difficult to point a finger at any one person or group. It is a collective shame we have to bear, all of us holding that beautiful green passport. You know, the one without enough pages? But I digress. Because what I want to write about this week is life, and death, in Nigeria. Life is hard, again as even a blind man can tell. Apart from the dire situation with internal security, the prices of food and other essentials seem to be on an upward journey that doesn’t look like it’s ending soon. In a few days, by Sallah, things will have skyrocketed so bad that there will be nothing but tales of woe and suffering. A fuel price hike is impending. Prices of everything are following suit. Now don’t forget that the only things not being hiked are salaries, in the private or public sector.
Which leads us to death, partially figurative, but also quite literal. When terrorists aren’t killing citizens, they are dying from hunger, disease or poverty. Headlines in newspapers nationwide continue to inspire doom, gloom, and abject misery. But don’t blame them: The stories aren’t manufactured; they’re reflections of our reality. Stories that inspire hope are getting fewer and fewer. Instead it’s kidnapping, banditry, and other acts of terrorism woven into the tapestry of our national fabric. It’s particularly disheartening when some of us remember clearly when these were not the problems that dogged us. Recently, questions like ‘Where are we heading to?’ have been asked, even by the most unlikely persons. The fear is palpable. But ever the optimist, I haven’t lost hope. But my hope comes with conditions, unfortunately those which I have no direct control over. Our decision-makers, across board, need to start making smart decisions, and fast. They need to focus on problems that affect the many, and avoid drama that impacts the few. They also need to employ some hopeful rhetoric.
Nigerians, like other human beings, don’t want to die; At least not before their appointed time. We all want to live, until a natural death. But the general feeling on social media, and other gatherings, point to an atmosphere of fear, danger, and a sense that one could ‘be next’ at any time. Our political and religious leaders have for a very long time inadvertently, or intentionally – or both – misled us. Not out of mischief or evil, at least in most cases, but from sheer lack of conviction, fire, creativity, ingenuity, or even basic wit. Some even suffered from all the aforementioned, really. And while that is where our tragedy lies, the good news is that we can get out of it when, and only when, those who are supposed to do the right thing do the right thing. In most cases, it’s actually as simple as just doing your job. And that’s something even a blind person can tell, really.