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Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!

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Can We Have 'No Victor, No Vanquished'?

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

Firstly, we need to give glory to the Almighty God for keeping us till this day. Whoever is reading this only means he or she is alive. This is the last Saturday of the year and a day to the end of 2023. We take many things for granted as human beings. By our nature, we majorly worry about what we don’t have while we don’t appreciate what we have. Most of us alive today don’t attach so much to it despite being hale and healthy. We are more concerned about mundane things.

If many of us are asked as to if we have problems at all, majority will answer in the affirmative. A further probe will reveal our problems to be about not having money or not having enough of it, feeding, clothing, housing, cars and other worldly things. While these are genuine needs of every human being to live well, in other situation, they pale into insignificance.

What do they matter any more to someone who is dead? No one wants or prays to die, but it is only sure thing for all living things. Let us not even start talking about how many people had died “unnatural” deaths in this country. Human life is so cheap in Nigeria of today. We have lost count of the number of those who have been killed by bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, and so on. Thousands are unreported. These are not regular deaths like from sickness, which could also result from lack of quality and affordable health care services or accidents due to bad roads. All still caused by the failure of government.

Just some days ago, on the christmas day, murderous bandits (terrorists) attacked some communities in Plateau State. The death toll has risen to almost 200. That’s in a country that has government at multiple levels and many security agencies like military, police, civil defence and other paramilitaries. This was just one incident out of many. All those people never knew they would not celebrate christmas, not to talk of seeing new year. This Wednesday, Nigerians woke up to the news of the passing of two prominent political figures in Nigeria; the former governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba.

Aketi, as Akeredolu was fondly called, has been sick for a while and was reported to have terminal illness. Ghali Na’Abba’s case was unknown as he has not been in active politics. Now, with all the power, influence, connection and wealth by these duo, especially the then sitting governor with the world at his feet, what did all that amount to in the face of death? Nothing. With all the pains Akeredolu went through, I want to believe that if he had the option of getting well but losing every material thing and position he had, he would have taken it. That was the point I was making about taking what we have for granted. We don’t value what we have until we lose them.

The holy Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) taught us to visit three places regularly for us to reflect. They are prison, hospital and burial ground. When we see people in prison, whether they are there rightly or otherwise, we will appreciate the freedom we have to move around unrestrained. When we go to hospital, we will see many people who are even very rich, who can afford everything that money can buy, but could not buy good health for themselves. This food we complain we don’t have, a sick person will have plenty of it but wouldn’t be able to eat.

What is more sobering is the cost of getting many things we have, which we freely use as we are alive and healthy. This oxygen we breathe freely and endlessly costs a fortune in hospital. Can anyone calculate how much oxygen they breathe daily for all the years they have been alive? Anyone who has seen dialysis patients with kidney problem would know the value of what God is doing for us in our body alone. Let us not talk of the other body organs and parts; heart, liver, lungs, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, digestive, respiratory, skeletal and other systems. Can we pay for their services that God made possible effortlessly and we do naturally?

The ultimate is death. Someone who is sick in the hospital still has hope and believes they are better than those who are dead, which is the end. There are too many reasons to be thankful. Therefore, in all situations, irrespective of what we are going through right now, particularly in Nigeria (and we are going through a lot of difficulties, sincerely), we must be introspective and appreciate wherever we find ourselves and be grateful to God, while we continue to hope for the better. President Tinubu has kept emphasising Renewed Hope as his mantra. We pray our hope will not be dashed.

I get many reactions regulary to my weekly articles. One question I do get often was how I kept going, writing week in week out, believing in Nigeria as being redeemable and bothering about how things are going in the country and wanting them to get better. They ask if I am not affected and or not tired of the disappointments? Many feel that I am immune to all the challenges facing the people of Nigeria. This is because, engaging in such writings is outside the core of my business. I have businesses I purse daily as my own source of livelihood and survival. I am not an employee.

And despite that, I have never, for once, missed a week, by failing to write the article in the last six years. Not once! It has been demanding and energy sapping, especially with continuous worsening of the economic and security situations in the country. With what I see people go through daily, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to keep quiet. I see this as my own contribution to the betterment of my fatherland. It is a self-imposed responsibility for me, though, it has become a “burden” on me as it is becoming more difficult to quit. Many readers now consider it as my “duty” to speak up about whatever is happening in the country. Many do specifically ask for my opinion on things or even demand that I write about them.

So, contrary to the thinking, I am affected. And seriously too. As a matter of fact, this year is one of the most difficult years of my life in the over two decades, given the enormity of challenges I have encountered in my businesses which nearly grounded me. From the start of this year, my businesses have been in turbulence. Many might wondered why I was usually very furious with Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the former CBN governor, in my comments about him, it was because his devilish naira confiscation policy early this year set the foundation for the many woes I have suffered in the last one year. It set my business back. I lost millions of naira.

Ever since, it has been wobbling and fumbling. Every effort to rise up above it, to remain afloat has suffered one misfortune or another. I have made supplies to company where my funds got hooked in the last eight months. Imagine a business that relies on turnover, makes purchase of goods with available capital, made supply, only for the money to get hooked. Is it not when someone has retrieved their capital that we can start to talk of profit? This is a business I rely on for survival, with enormous responsibilities to immediate and extended families. The children’s school fees, feeding, welfare and all.

How does one survive, coupled with the economic shock waves through the land immediately after subsidy was removed and the unification of the exchange rates that has driven the rates through the roof? This pushed inflation to unprecedented level with the skyrocketed cost of living. These are better imagined. I have suffered all these in the last one year.

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About eight years ago when I voluntarily resigned from my paid job in a downstream oil and gas company after fifteen years working there, to venture out on my own, a capital of N30 million was enough to start something. That amount could purchase three trucks of petrol, two trucks of diesel and one truck kerosene, totalling about 200,000 litres. One was in business with that. Today, that amount will only manage to buy a 33,000 litre truck of diesel. It will require nearly N200m to do same business at that previous scale, a money I don’t have.

Partnership should solve this problem but lack of trust is the bane. “Eniyan buruku ti ba eniyan rere je.” The fraudsters, who have taken over our society, have ruined the chances of genuine people like me. In the past, suppliers were ready to give you any quantity of petroleum product or any good for that matter, on credit, to be paid for after sales. Many business men and women became big from that. But when fraudsters began to dupe such suppliers, that door was shut. Getting loans from Nigerian banks might require that you bring your great grandfather’s head (literally) as security.

I watched Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) recently where he stated that he has never been able to get a kobo as loan from any Nigerian bank but he got many times from UK. Imagine someone of such status and influence. He was delivering a lecture at a programme where seated, the powers-that-be in Nigeria; President Tinubu, Senate President and Senators, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Honourable members, state governors, captains of industries, powerful politicians and so on.

This is why in my previous article about corruption, I emphasised that it had become a culture. Addressing it requires all hands on deck but must be championed by leaders. Are they ready? “Ilu ti ko l’ofin, ese ko si nibe” (where there is no law, there is no sin). But when there is law but sinners get away with crimes, what do we expect from such society? Many leaders are culprits themselves. How then can we expect them to enforce the law to punish themselves? The police should prevent crimes or arrest criminals, and the judge should do justice to the matter in court. Where corruption has taken over these institutions, where is the refuge for the victims?

Someone commented that if Emefiele and gang were to have committed all those alleged criminal acts in China, they would have been dead by now. I wondered how many people will also be alive among all the people who have occupied or still occupying political offices and in civil service today. Even in private sector. Did Emefiele carry all those money on his head? No. They were done through banks and other organisations. The banks have been declaring stupendous profits while the economy performed poorly. Where were the profits coming from? So, it will take tsunamic anti-corruption fight for us to see any impact.

As a person who supported and campaigned for President Tinubu, anyone might wondered why I still support his decisions and actions despite personal injuries to me and my businesses from the actions too. Well, I supported Tinubu then because he was the most suitable among the available candidates. He has the best credential of performance based on his antecedents. He has the gut to take on difficult tasks of governance and the political sagacity to navigate difficult terrain of Nigerian politics. And he has not disappointed.

His leadership capacity is far and above those of his co-contestants. We saw him demonstrated this in his interventions in Ondo and Rivers states’ political crisis in the last few months. Other leaders could have allowed them to fester until they snowballed into conflagration. Some of these candidates couldn’t even resolve minor disagreements within their parties. These are people who wanted to manage Nigeria with our multireligous, multiethnic and multicultural interests. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Also, as a matter of personal conviction, I have been an advocate of the removal of petrol subsidy for years as it was being run. This is the sector I have been in over two decades and I felt that the money that the subsidy was draining from our national purse far outweighed its expected benefits to the masses. Some people were simply taking advantage of it to steal our common patrimony. Same as the fraudulent forex arbitrage from fixed rates, an equivalent of petrol subsidy in the financial sector. So, President Tinubu simply lived up to my expectations with those courageous decisions to do away with them. I support the decisions even at personal cost.

I have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like Allah says in the Qur’an, Surah Ash-Sharh, Chapter 94 verses 5 and 6 that read: “(5) So, surely with hardship comes ease. (6) Surely with ˹that˺ hardship comes ˹more˺ ease.” All these sufferings are sacrifices that we have to make as a people, with the hope and expectations of better tomorrow. “Eni ma j’oyin inu apata, ko ni w’enu aake.” (there is price to pay for every good thing).

What I will not accept is for the leadership of the country to make demands on the citizens to sacrifice while they are not ready to do the same. Sincerely, the actions of the executive and legislative arms of government have not reflected that, with all manners of expenditures we read daily and items for which huge scarce funds are allocated in the budgets. We are not seeing that fiscal discipline from their side. This is not peculiar to the federal government alone. Same is observed in many states across the country. That culture of wasteful spending cut across regions and party lines. It is unacceptable. Leadership should be by example rather than precept.

In spite of the challenges that we are currently facing, whether individually or as a country, we must know that there will always be some reasons for gratitude. Many countries around the world did not experience half of what we are going through before they went burst. Sadly, any crisis that followed such burst only made already bad situation worse. This is the admonition we often give to some people, especially the young ones, who think by scattering everything, is how we can solve our problems. “Eni ija o ba, lo n perare l’okunrin. Eni Sango t’oju e wole, ko ni bu oba koso laye laye.” Same goes to some bitter opposition party leaders and members who were ready to bring down the roof on everyone’s head. “Orun n ya bo, ki s’oro enikan.” Let us keep hope alive. We shall all live to witness the greater and better Nigeria of our dream.

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: [email protected]
Whatsapp: +2348036034685

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December 30, 2023.

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