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My State of the Nation Address: Updates

I’ve been teaching experimental fiction this semester, and really loving how it allows the students to tell stories they couldn’t have told otherwise. This week,…

I’ve been teaching experimental fiction this semester, and really loving how it allows the students to tell stories they couldn’t have told otherwise. This week, I am using the collage method to address the state of Naija. Spoiler alert: The nation is doing rather poorly. 

UPDATE: The number of abducted Nigerian pupils in the north-western town of Kuriga, has increased to more than 280, according to officials. (BBC Africa).

On Thursday, the 7th of March, gunmen on motorbikes raided a school and abducted children between 8 and 15 years old.  I recall when the Chibok girls were kidnapped. The noise, the shock, I couldn’t scroll through Twitter without seeing multiple posts – from Nigerians and non-Nigerians calling for their release. I couldn’t have a phone conversation with anyone in Nigeria without Chibok dominating our conversation. What a difference 10 years and many more kidnappings make. People, Nigerians, seem to have become numb to abductions, even when 280 students are carted off at once. “Like cows,” a lucky escapee says. Meanwhile, two days later, more than a dozen students and four women were kidnapped from a school in Gada, Sokoto (BBC). As far as I know, efforts are still ongoing to find them.

A heart that no longer beats is a dead one. Our nation is dead if a calamity like this barely even registers on the community radar. 

UPDATE: ‘Traders Sell 50kg Bag of Rice at New Price as Report Shows Top Nine Brands With Lowest Costs’. Read more (legit.ng.com). The price of rice – without which we can’t make out national pride, jollof-  has spiked within the last months. Apparently, it rose by over 98% in 12 months. The new price is between N70,000 and N85,000. As a child, rice was the undisputed Sunday lunch in many homes. Now, at this price, I wonder how many families can afford to buy it.

The price of rice, a staple in Nigeria, is fast becoming unaffordable for most Nigerians as grain prices have skyrocketed 98.47% in the last 12 months. “Experts say the continued rise in the price of local parboiled rice is due to the scarcity of paddy rice in the country.”  However, rice isn’t the only commodity to have risen. Everything – other foodstuff, medicines, clothing – is slowly receding from the reach of many Nigerians, and even the (formerly) middle class is feeling it. Someone said recently that the middle class has been eradicated in one swoop. 

UPDATE: Following the collapse of a five-storey building in Onitsha on Sunday, Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, has ordered that all ongoing building projects in the city be subjected to integrity tests (Daily Post)

On Sunday, the 10th of March, a five-storey building collapsed in Onitsha. As far as I know, it is still unknown how many people are trapped under the rubble. Eighteen people are feared dead. Barely two weeks ago, towards the end of February, another building – a shopping plaza with more than 120 shops – collapsed in the same city. Lives were lost, as with this one. Two buildings collapsing in one week isn’t just a tragedy, it is a sign of a seriously flawed work ethic. Folks cutting corners, cheating, building without supervision, rushing to do the most with the least, and in the end, costing people their lives. Sometimes, we act in Naija as if life were replaceable. 

UPDATE: (On the abducted schoolchildren), “President Bola Tinubu said on social media he was confident the victims would be rescued. 

He tweeted: “Nothing else is acceptable to me and the waiting family members of these abducted citizens. Justice will be decisively administered.” (BBC)

Nothing of course, gives citizens more confidence than their president telling them on social media about his own confidence. Insecurity in Nigeria is a major problem. Ordinary Nigerians are forming vigilante groups to keep their communities safe because they do not believe that their government can do so. Those who can afford, to hire their own personal security. 

I wish wishes were horses so that President Tinubu’s wishful confidence would become real and the abducted children returned to their families. My thoughts are with the suffering families. I pray with them that their children come home soon and in one piece. 


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