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The N10 billion defense

What the Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili could not tell us however in her desperate defense and attempt to refute the statement was the actual…

What the Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili could not tell us however in her desperate defense and attempt to refute the statement was the actual amount that this government is voting for the futile exercise. What she simply said rhetorically was that it was the late Yar’adua who indeed set up the anniversary committee which continued under the present government.

It is one of the few things that people like Dora and Co did not advise Goodluck Jonathan to do away with because it is money spinning venture where they all will milk the nation dry. Of course, by the estimate that was revealed to the nation by concerned citizens, Ministry of Information has a large share running into hundreds of millions of the said money. It is necessary therefore that Mrs. Akunyilli will lead the team of defense in order to douse any national tension that the insensitivity is causing.

If truly Yar’adua did not intend to spend only N62 million for the worthless project, Nigerians are curious and expected that as part of the minister’s defense, the actual amount that is earmarked for the anniversary would have been announced instead of the sweeping statement that Nigerians would be told of the exact amount at the right time.

This is the right time. Is Dora and the Federal Executive Council trying to take us for a ride? Okay, they will let us know how much was budgeted only after either expenditure has begun or is almost completed. This in my view smacks of insensitivity which seems to be the hallmark of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

A nation whose past seem to be better than its present has little if anything to celebrate. Life in this country was better, easier and more abundant in 1960 than it is in 2010. Our school system was far more qualitative than the trash that we have today. Our health services were more effective than the death centers that we today have. Most importantly the quality of leaders we had in 1960 was more patriotic and nationalistic than this crowd of contract-approving executives who parade themselves every Wednesday mainly to approve one form of contract or the other.

I am of the view that what we need to do as a people after these wasted years is to sit back and reflect with a view to building more lasting and sustainable blocks for national development. I am of the view that we have made tremendous retrogression in the last 50 years to the extent that at 50, Nigeria still cannot generate electricity up to 3,000 megawatts after wasting more than $25 billion.

I am equally of the view that the only thing the government can showcase is the bourgeoning of institutions without commensurate improvement in quality of every aspect of life. We will be foolish to celebrate quantity with fatal quality. I challenge those in authority to tell the nation why we must spend so much money to showcase our ignorance and backwardness when every social and economic infrastructure is at the base or even non-existent.

Certainly, what we need to do as a people is to use this period to reflect on all the lost chances and opportunities that the nation has had in the last 50 years. Nigeria definitely is one of the potentially richest nations on the surface of the earth. We are blessed with good climatic condition and fertile land for agriculture. Several products that could be produced in this country can only be available or cultivated in other climes under specially created conditions.

In Nigeria, we eat mango and throw the seeds unnoticed; in a matter of years, such seeds grow and become ripe for consumption themselves. We have several mineral deposits that we even do not know they exist. Oil deposits make the nation the six largest on the surface of the earth. But the reality is that despite the fertile land for agriculture, millions of our children go to sleep hungry. We still import rice, fish, and chicken and so on.

With this large deposit of oil, the governments have been unable to build simple refineries that would guarantee internal consumption of refined products. The meaning is that we still import refined petroleum products from nations that either don’t have oil deposits or put the other way have no oil wells at all.

This is one of the greatest Nigerian ironies according to one BBC reporter in the 1990s who said Nigeria is a strange nation. It imported what it had and exported what it never had. Meaning that with the rich oil deposits, the nation was importing refined petroleum products and while it was under a military rule, it was exporting democracy to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

What the nation will want this government to do is not to chase shadows but to live in the reality of its being and that of Nigerian people. It does not matter if billions of this money voted for anniversary celebration will end up in few pockets. I am of the view that our neighbors will laugh at us. Those who do not have the resources that we do have done so wonderfully well.

The Ghanaian economy works so well today our businessmen find more peace doing business in Ghana. The security system is working well and incidence of crime is at its minimum. Their school system is also working fine in high quality, so also is their health system. Privileged Nigerian elites now go to hospitals in Ghana to treat minor health cases.

Worst still, our government officials and business men now send their children to schools in the neighboring Benin Republic and Togo because their primary and secondary schools are working while ours are not. What for God sake are we celebrating then? The only success that we have had as a people is that Nigeria is still one country despite all the troubles and in my view that shouldn’t cost the nation so much to celebrate.

Our rulers are not leaders. Yes, there was no credible election that brought this presidency to power in 2007. Otherwise they will think of better things to do with our resources. I am of the view that what needs to be done is for government to have a rethink and do a low key celebration and emphasis on reflection than this grandstanding.

I don’t know how a match past would be so expensive. Let’s have a rethink please.

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