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Column No.6: Top 3 things getting my goat in Nigeria today

No, I do not own a goat, as some of you humorously inclined readers are likely to surmise from the above title of today’s piece.…

No, I do not own a goat, as some of you humorously inclined readers are likely to surmise from the above title of today’s piece. It is merely usage of a figure of speech to denote something or someone making one annoyed or angry, an expression with its roots in horseracing. A long time ago, goats were thought to have a calming effect on high-strung thoroughbreds, so they were placed in the horse’s stall on the night before the race. Unscrupulous opponents would then steal the goat in an effort to upset the horse and cause it to lose the race. And that’s how that phrase came to be. 

With a variety of things going on around Nigeria today, I thought it would have a calming effect on me – and hopefully the reader – to list the biggest ‘goat-getting’ things currently on our national landscape. There are some other things that while annoying or upsetting, could not be tabled here due to space, and the fact that Nigeria not having a single entry at the next Oscar Awards pales in comparison to the over 600 people who have perished in floods nationwide. Another I had to drop is the fuel scarcity that comes and goes faster than this columnist’s monthly allowance.  Before I digress, here are the top three:

1. Security threats 

For this one, if our lackadaisical approach to security, or our knee-jerk reactions when incidents occur form our main responses to security, then why won’t a country like the United States of America issue a threat warning to its citizens? For years, the proximity of terrorists to the federal capital has been a known thing to even the most pedestrian mind, yet only when it got out of hand was it being addressed, and even then with a pace that saw major breaches like the train attack occur. 

Even in the rare instance when gains are made, like recently in Kaduna by the Nigerian Army, it is not publicized enough to give citizens confidence and boost morale of security agencies. Honestly, I don’t blame any nation that asks its citizens in Nigeria to be on alert. It’s a no-brainer, really. Before we can pooh-pooh anything, let’s at least step up our security game and make sure we’re not caught unawares by the murderous elements who continue to threaten our safety.

2. Naira redesign

For this, I’m going full-on nuclear, to declare it the biggest display of misplaced priorities I’ve encountered in a while, which is saying a lot coming from a nation like ours. Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said it is targeted at controlling currency in circulation as well as curbing counterfeit currency, and ransom payment to kidnappers and terrorists. I have not heard a more ridiculous attempt to justify a ridiculous endeavor such as this in a very long time. At the moment, our nation has no time for cosmetic measures or optics. We need solid policies and ideas that would help the naira gain value, not just look pretty.

My personal favourite justification which the CBN governor gave in a speech has got to be that ‘the naira has not been redesigned in the past 20 years’. So basically, billions of dollars will be wasted so our struggling currency can look fashionable? Absolutely none of it makes sense. The naira continues to plunge to previously-unimaginable depths, and all we can think of is how good it looks? My personal guess is that it costs way more than 100 naira to print a 100 naira note, and I would love to be better-educated on that.

3. Flood of tears 

This is also an issue which is life-threatening, and which is also tackled in Nigeria mainly by blame-trading, hand-wringing, and a dangerous head-in-the-sand attitude that would put an ostrich to shame. Also, if it’s badly-hit Kogi State we’re talking about, then add pointless chest-beating and zero action from the number one citizen of the state, Governor Yahaya Bello. Since the unfortunate natural disaster began, I’ve not seen or heard him making a single sensible or inspiring speech or address targeting the citizens of his state. 

All I remember Governor Bello for recently is the whole Dangote fiasco wherein he seemed to side with violent attackers of the corporation’s expansive and expensive Obajana complex, and the gangster-like posture he took as it played out, including his forlorn faux-indifference in the photos that were taken to publicize a truce/’ceasefire’. The second thing is also uncomplimentary, being a similar warpath taken with BUA, though that fizzled rather quickly due to the corporation’s absolutely classy response to bullying for ‘not using land given to them to develop’. 

People have died, families are displaced, and properties have been lost. Obviously, the trauma faced by survivors cannot be quantified. So, what exactly is the state government doing about it? While at it, it would be good to consider and remember that floods are a clear result of global warming, the environment’s reaction to its improper usage, and sometimes the failure of the authorities in acting decisively to mitigate it. Unfortunately for Governor Bello, floods only respond to action, not mere words, bullying, or braggadocio.

Note: Do you have a list of ‘goat-getting’ things you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you. The most interesting and well-written ones stand the chance of being published in a future installment of this column. Please send via e-mail or SMS, and indicate ‘OK to print’ below the message.

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