By Fola Aiyegbusi
What Nigeria needs at the moment is a moral reconstruction and moral reorientation which over years has disappeared completely from our national psyche. Take it or leave it, the return of Nigeria to democratic form of government from 1999 till date has completely worsened the situation. The average Nigerian is getting “damned and damned” everyday. It is a circle of stress.com in his daily life endeavours. Before 1999, most of the things the average Nigerian can access as a citizen has now become impossible. Due to the continous devaluation of the naira from the inception of this current democratic dispensation till date, his take home pay can no longer take him past the bus stop. If he finds a way of getting home, he has no electricity. Getting gasoline to power his “I better pass my neighbour “generator set is a problem. To get for his car if has one is also a big problem. When he sends his ward to tertiary institutions, he is not sure if the child will graduate or not because of the now regular and unfortunately traditional ASUU/ASUP strike every academic season. The strike is now a part of every academic year in our tertiary institutions. When per chance the child graduates after eight years for a four year course, there are no jobs available. Jobs in Nigeria’s public and civil service of today is reserved for the children of the privileged or sold. If he is a law student, then hardly can he make law school because most law faculties have admitted more students than their quotas, therefore someone may need to require a little influence to get your child on the list from the university to the law school. This was never the case few years ago. Choices of law school is another matter as some are presumed exclusively reserved for certain categories of people. Is not apparent now that it is even difficult for the average Nigerian to get justice at our law courts? Can we compare the speed and duration matters concerning the privileged are dispensed in our courts and those concerning the average Nigerians are dispensed? For the average Nigerian, it is a frustrating endless litigation process. The average Nigerian had access to food and beverages consumed by the privileged too a while ago. He could shop in Leventis, kingsway, or Domino stores with his humble wages. Sardine was no luxury nor butter. With his labourer wages, he was able to buy provisions for his family and even buy for his wards going to boarding house schools. The story is a lot different now. He cannot anymore. The average Nigerian is damned. If he drives, he cannot get a driver’s license at the official fee. If needs arises to get an international passport, he must pay through his nose “for lack of booklet”. If he does businesses that requires forex, he cannot get through his banks. The commercial banks must cheat the average Nigerian through unexplainable charges . Account maintenance, ATM withdrawal charges, vat, administrative charges, electronic charges, etc all on a transaction of ten thousand naira. The pain is more when the central bank keeps saying most of the charges are illegal and they are not doing anything to stop it. For the average Nigerian, you can not get your goods legitimately imported into the country cleared at our seaports or airports. You are at the mercy of port officials, customs, immigration, quarantine, police, army, navy, standard organisation of Nigeria, and many more irrelevant government agencies at the ports. And if ii is a car for example, after it is registered, custom officials must waylay you on the motorways like armed robbers asking for customs papers. Only God knows the exact genuine customs papers for cars in Nigeria.
The average Nigerian is completely damned in the hands of electricity distribution companies. He must pay for electricity not consumed. He has no meter therefore his bills are estimated to the pleasure of the providers. The inept leadership at the federal capital territory ministry nearly created a “novel addition” to the suffering and smiling with its proposed law of wanting the common man to pay for “owning and using a generator set”. A laughably idiotic proposal. The telecom providers are no different too. You must be be made to pay for drop calls. When you call and other person does not hear the caller, you still pay. The average Nigerian is at the mercy of our local airline operators anytime he is to travel. Despite the presence of regulatory authorities, the airlines treat the average Nigerian as trash. From personal experience, a 2pm flight on a Sunday was shifted to 3pm, 5pm, 7pm with boarding announcements made, boarding passes collected and then flight cancelled at 7.3pm till following day without a particular hour of departure. There are cases of passengers who checked in for a one hour flight from lagos to Abuja by 8am in the morning and didn’t get to Abuja until 1am the following day through unexplained delays by the airline. That is the plight of the average Nigerian in our aviation sector. It is too often surprising how those saddled with the responsibilities of overseeing routine things that affects the daily sustainance of the average Nigerian do not understand all these factors. On this prevailing fuel scarcity for example, what explanation can they offer when there are processes for fuel importation into the country and all the supervisory requirements at take off and landing destinations in the process are carried out by different agencies of government. Yet, no one, no agency has been reprimanded till date. It has been a situation of blame game between nnpc and marketing companies. The children of average Nigerians who are now adults, who had the best of what the country could offer her citizens in their own times and by fortune subsequently moved from being average to privileged, sadly have now unfortunately made life unbearable for the average Nigerian of these days. Nigeria’s political class or group since 1999 till date have done lots of damage in this regard. I wonder why we don’t know that this will encourage crime in all ramifications. A society where the average person lives the life of sorrow, tears, stess and punishment will surely lead to the escalation of criminal activities as everyone will struggle to belong. Unfortunately, the national orientation agency seems not to understand the enormity of the problems at hand which this country of ours has put itself. There is a complete need for national rebirth and moral reconstruction. The government needs to be alive to its responsibilities to the citizens. There is a serious need to tackle the economic crisis and the non ending devaluation of the naira. Wonder why our country economic experts can not look beyond IMF and world Bank policies? Why do we continue to experience a dwindling export and a growing importation of foreign goods? Why is it a big stress in exporting goods, especially perishable agricultural products, through our seaports? Public service officials must act responsibly and patriotically. Why this government and previous ones before it do not see the importance of monitoring and evaluation of its policies as a major instrument of success is what I don’t understand.
*Fola Aiyegbusi, a public affairs analyst wrote from firstname.lastname@example.org*