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Why Wait Till The Last Minute?

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Kenya Presidential Election: Comparing Notes

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

This Thursday, I watched a video clip showcasing many beautiful sides of Nigeria, particularly Lagos. It was made by a young man by the instagram name “Rashidfreestyler”. He claimed his objective was to start exposing many great things about African continent to the world through such videos, shot in different countries across the continent, to counter the negative narratives that are majorly promoted. He is not even a Nigerian. As I watched the video, I almost got confused myself, and doubted if that was Lagos, Nigeria, where I live.

My comment on the post was: “this must be some areas in New York City or Dubai”. I was being sarcastic. This is because, the many features showed there; the high rise buildings that dot the landscape, the beautiful real estates, magnificient corporate offices, the beach, tourist attractions, rich and diverse cultures, economy, tech hubs, and many more, in the few minutes of the video. Had he not mentioned the location and for those who would not recognised some of the landmark buildings and features there, the location could easily be mistaken for some areas in Dubai, truly. I was once again, proud to be a Nigerian.

This came on the backdrop of the negativity that trails our country at all times. It is always one bad news after another. And the people who promote such negativity most are Nigerians themselves, particularly those living at home. As the Yorubas will say, when a woman has not been in two marriages, she will think her current husband is the worst in the world. Many Nigerians have never stepped foot out of Nigeria. So, they have this fantasy of an utopian “heaven on earth” conception or should I say “misconception”, of other world out there.

For those who have travelled abroad, it is often a mixed feeling. Those who are fortunate to get it right and were able to settle down comfortably in their new and better locations, see it as blessing. Those who are unfortunate, live to regret ever leaving Nigeria, as it became clear to them that life is not a bed of roses out there. Manna does not fall from heaven anywhere again.

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Even in those countries where some find comfort, it is not cheap and that easy. You have to sweat for it. They may be more comfortable relative to when they were in Nigeria, based on the opportunities now available to them, but they still miss their home country. This has made the debate about “japaing”, the new trend of emigrating abroad, to rage on endlessly, with people looking at merits and demerits of it. Although, many Nigerians are not interested in any “sermon” about it that sounds discouraging to them. They just have to “japa”, either by crook or hook. Can anyone blame them?

The phenomenon of “japaing” is not new. Migration is a natural human endeavour that has existed as long as humanity. It is done for different reasons; economic, education, security, pleasure, etc. In Nigeria, citizens have always travelled abroad. In the olden days, it was usually for education. After such education, many travellers hurried back home. Staying back was considered of less value. It was believed that there was no place like home and that the opportunities were more in Nigeria then. And that was the truth.

However, as time went by, the situation began to reverse. With economic downturn back home, not only that those abroad stayed put and refused to return, multitude are now leaving the country in droves. The situation has gotten to acme in the last seven years of this administration. What has been fueling it is the economic difficulties and insecurities in particular.

Those who have followed my writings in these past years know how critical I have been, of the present administration’s management of the country. It was as if we were not living in the same country before now. Things started and continued to degenerate just after the government took over. Nigerians became frustrated, dejected and many contemplated and or actually committed suicide. This has been going on.

Few weeks ago, I travelled by road, something I had dreaded for years now, and I found many things have actually changed for better in Nigeria. Unfortunately, only bad news trends since it is what sells. I felt it will amount to wickedness and lack of patriotism for me to be quiet about it, after I have criticised the failures in the past. Truly, we are not where we want and supposed to be, but with things I saw and the happenings in the past few months, we might be on our way to there, gradually.

The worst thing that has bedevilled us is unprecedented insecurity. I know this because I could guage the difference between the pre-Buhari era and past seven years of his government. Immediately after taking over in 2015, this administration made initial “gragra” progress with fighting Boko Haram insurgents. The terrorists who were spread in many states before then were frontally confronted and reduced to an enclave in one state, Borno, majorly. Sadly, the government celebrated too early with Alhaji Lia Muhammed’s famous “technically defeated” summation.

We had a short-lived respite, before a more vicious one reared its ugly head. The once occasional Fulani herdsmen attack on farmers and cattle rustling became full-blown banditry. It was not limited to states in the North-West and North-Central, as was the case before, but gradually spread across the northern region and further down to the south. With time, they were not just attacking farms and farmers, and stealing cows only, but seemed to be on genocidal mission. Distinct from previous attacks that usually had few people dead, we began to record killings in hundreds. That was unbelievable.

They were sacking whole community, taking over their lands, farms and homes. From there, they spread to highways and started kidnapping road travellers enmass. In no time, many highways and major roads linking states, towns and even regions became impassable. No one could travel with confidence that he or she will get to their destination safely. They began to attack schools and kidnap school children, putting parents of such innocent students in sorrows. That became the biggest business as they demanded for hundreds of millions of naira as ransom, which many parents were forced to pay to save their children. It was as if the bandits owned the country.

I have lost counts of the number of articles I have written about these challenges as they occurred over this period. The Federal Government looked helpless. The state governments seemed non-existent. Not to talk of local governments. Those were already sacked in many affected states. Nigerians were in distress. I stopped my regular travellings by road, across the country in the last three years. I don’t have ransom money. Many kidnapped victims were killed because their families could not pay the ransom.

About three months ago, there were series of heightened insecurity events that happened which made me think that the bandits have taken over. Having attacked the train travelling to Kaduna from Abuja, where over 60 passengers kidnapped and some others killed, they attack airport in Kaduna and also the Kuje prison in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). They attacked the presidential guards in the same FCT. They posted a video with the kidnapped train passengers and threatened to kidnap President Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state. That might have been their undoing as events that followed turned the table against them.

The Security Chiefs were given marching order by the president, not that it was anything new to us, but we started seeing different actions and results from the various military engagements against the bandits and terrorists across the north, immediately and that have continued till date. The military brought their might to bear on the fight and it showed that the terrorists were actually not as powerful as we were made to believe. It was just because the government has been handling them with kids’ gloves.

As I write, I am not saying kidnappings and attacks are not going on across the country. However, it is no longer in the proportions and with the audacity with which they were doing it before now. The military has been dealing serious blow on them, decimating them, neutralising many of their leaders and fighters, destroying their camps and scattering them. Many terrorists have been surrendering. We only see snippets of these recorded successes in the news, since good news does not trend and sell in the media. They were not given the wide coverage and reportage like when situation was the opposite. That is Nigeria.

It is based on this progress that I have disagreed with the manner in which the foreign embassies went about their advisory to their workers and citizens last week. I believe there is no smoke without fire. But when the alarm raised about a prospective fire can cause unnecessary panic that could result in stampede, where more lives could be loss, then, such method is irresponsible. Dropping such a huge security information on the citizens with high alarm with their dramatic evacuation order, created undue fear in the people. This created panic, something that works for the terrorists as well. So, to what end?

I know that these countries find ways they managed such information in their own countries, which made them look very safe at all times, when contrary is the reality actually. They usually downplayed the insecurities in their countries. They suppress such news while they loud same in others. “A ri t’eni moowi, a f’apaadi bo tie mole”. Same terror alert in USA has been raised by UK yesterday, but we have not seen the same dramatic evacuation of the staff and citizens of various foreign embassies from US. That’s hypocritical.

We are not saying government should discountenance such advisory and be irresponsible in their response to it, as it is usually the case. The tempo of dealing with terrorists in the last two months should be sustained. The security agents should not be demoralised or distracted by any such alarm or action.

There are few other areas that the government has started making progress which made me question why wait till last minute. Since two months ago, the power supply suddenly improved, from nowhere. Many Nigerians have never experienced that quantum of power supply in decades. Imagine power being uninterrupted for many days and even weeks. Where there were interruptions, it only took very short time. That was what we demanded of our government. More efforts are ongoing to improve the power supply greatly.

My travelling by road was interesting. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway has been substantially completed, with the Lagos end remaining. There are also some works going on within Ibadan axis that cause gridlock. With the pace of work, that road should be delivered as soon as possible. It has taken too long but it will be to the credit of the present administration if completed. Same improvements are in many other roads in different parts of Nigeria, based on eye-witness reports.

I have seen pictures of Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway, and many others. No one has said they are fake. I have seen the second Niger bridge connecting Asaba to Onitsha. No one can even deny that. A 1.5km border bridge linking Nigeria to Cameroon at Mfum/Ekok, Cross Rivers State has been completed. And many more. These are works we have criticised the government for, in the past. If they are doing or have done them now, it is only fair that they are commended for them.

Someone shot a video of the newly completed Muritala Muhammed International Airport Terminal 2. It is a beauty to behold. That was the same feeling we had when the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, in Abuja, was opened after completion. Others that have been similarly transformed are airports in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano. Same as MMAI Local Terminal 1. Don’t government deserve some credits for them?

Why are we just finding out about a 4 kilometre pipeline and another one, illegally connected to a 48 inch Trans Forcados Export Trunk Line, a major line for exporting Nigerian crude oil, to steal from the country? Who could be responsible? That is high level stealing. No one should claim they belong to any of these small local thieves who steal crude oil for the “kpo-fire” local refineries. We won’t buy that. The NNPC officials were also quick to claim it has existed for nine good years. How did they know? Unfortunately, no head has rolled so far, with prospective culprits pointing accusing fingers and looking for the thieves. How ironic.

As a step to finding solution to inflation, the CBN has said it will change the naira notes. The 200, 500 and 1000 notes will be redesigned. Old notes are expected to be returned to the banks. This will mop up excess liquidity in circulation. What the CBN might not told us explicitly was that it wanted to use it to fight corruption. How? Since the announcement that new notes will come out on 15th of December, 2022, all kinds of videos have been in circulation on social media showing money coming out from hiding. A trailer load of damaged naira notes was seen.

Another woman showed mints of 200 naira notes which were given to her husband from the bank. The shock was that they were dated 2003. Just imagine. Someone has hoarded the notes for almost 20 years. What kind of people are we? They have hurriedly moved them to the bank to deposit. EFCC raided some houses in Abuja and Lagos within the week, and they found hundreds of millions of Naira in one and almost half a million dollar in another. The guys were said to be fraudsters who hacked into a commercial bank and stole N1.4 billion. They must be planning to deposit the cash in bank before they were caught. EFCC has said they will be monitoring unusually huge cash deposits into banks by depositors, including the Bureau De Change (BDC) operators. If they are serious about, then, some progress about anti-corruption fight might be made.

There are many challenges that the country and her people are still battling with. What is however critical is to face them squarely and ensure the right direction is being followed. In the next four months, another president will be elected. The new administration that will come on board in May 29, 2023, should have a good footing to start with and build on. The challenges are humongous and we need very competent, courageous and visionary leader to salvage the country. So, we must choose wisely. The progress being made in these areas is encouraging. Government should improve in other failing areas. It is better late than never.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: lateefadewole23@gmail.com

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