By: Abdulrasheed Ibrahim, Notary Public
On 1st October 2022, Nigeria celebrated her 62nd independent anniversary. I continue to be worried that if the military had ruled the country for the greater part of years preceding 1999 when the country returned to democracy, without taking the country to where it ought to be, then what has gone wrong in the last 23 years with the uninterrupted practice of democracy? Are we in “One Chance” democracy? A young cousin of mine called me recently asking if there was a way I could assist him to get an International passport. I did not need to be told to know that the young man was looking for a way to take his exit from this country. The rate at which many Nigerians are planning to get out of this country today is becoming too alarming. Many professional, non-professional; skilled and unskilled Nigerians are trying to leave the country in search for the greener pasture they believe this country is not affording them. It is very unfortunate that the professionals trained in this country are now taking their skill and expertise to other countries to develop those countries. Can this Nigerians be truly accused of being unpatriotic when the country is becoming hopeless day by day? What advice will you give to a Nigerian who after graduating from Nigerian university could not get a job because of no contention in his fatherland?
Recently, one Osunleke Oludare Alaba, a University graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo State was in the news when he went back to the institution asking for the refund of all the school fees he paid in return for the certificate awarded him at the end of his course in that university. According to the 36 years old man in an interview with The Punch Newspaper:
“I studied Agricultural Extension at the Ladoke Akintola University. I graduated in 2015 with Second Class lower grade. After my national youth service, I tried to secure a job but didn’t get anything reasonable. I later got a piece of land and went into farming. I invested some money in it but couldn’t get anything out of it. I later sold the land and went into the sale of ponmo (animal skin). I did that alongside my wife. But we couldn’t get anything out of that too….Cows used to disturb us. They destroyed my farm and that of the man beside mine. The man used to help with his tractor to clear my land. But cows destroyed our farms. I have been through a lot of things that I can’t be talking about now; let’s us just leave it at that…. I went on Monday to return the certificate; it has been at home for this long and it’s not useful. Whatever is not useful, it’s better to return it and get a refund, so that I can use the money to pursue my career….”
There are many Nigerians facing this kind of problems today after graduating from the universities. There are no jobs to compensate their efforts. The comedy staged by Alaba surely attracted the attention of the Alumni of the University that came to his rescue for financial assistance. Must our university graduates engage in comedy before getting assistance from people while the government has refused to live up to its responsibilities? While the government continues to indiscriminately approve the establishment of private universities without corresponding thought of proliferating the establishment of industries along that line; it has at the time refused to find lasting solution to the problem confronting the public universities under the false pretence of lack of funds to finance those institutions. But one has continued to wonder what is happening to all the loot funds recovered from the foreign land and within. Are those funds being re-looted rather than being used to finance the public educational sector? When those stealing and misappropriating the public fund are not properly prosecuted and sanctioned, other will think stealing and misappropriation of public fund is proper and rewarding. There are countries in other part of the world where corrupt public officers found guilty are made to commit suicide or face public execution. But it is ironical here that corrupt public officers are celebrated and given chieftaincy or traditional titles!
Democracy in this country has succeeded in exposing the hypocrisy of some leaders and public officers that had in the past criticized their predecessors in offices either through letter writing or press interview as when they themselves eventually got into power; they have proved to be more brainless and clueless than their predecessors. When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was coming in 1999, the hope many Nigerians had then was that the country would be great again having seen him as a person that willingly relinquished power as military Head of State to the elected civilian government in 1979. By the time he was completing his two terms and was looking for another third term which agenda was frustrated by the like of his Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, OBJ for that whole eight years as elected civilian President could not take the nation to the promised land contrary to the expectation .
OBJ insisted Yar’adua must succeed him and he did in 2007. In fairness to Yar’adua, he did his best before the angel of death came and took him away. He was succeeded by his Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The nation did not equally get it right under the Jonathan’s Presidency as some people would argue that he allowed himself to be turned an ATM without PIN number until he was voted out in the 2015 Presidential election. When the Daura born General, Muhammadu Buhari and the Professor of Law from Ikenne, Yemi Osinbajo were coming in 2015, the hope of many Nigerians once again was that the country would be great again because Buhari being perceived as an anti-corruption crusader with the way he jointly handled the country with the late General Tunde Idiagbon as military leaders before they were overthrown by IBB in August 1985, he would be in better position to checkmate the corruption and the insecurity facing the country at that time. Almost now completing his eight years as an elected President, the country is still yet to get it right as the situation is like falling from frying pan to fire contrary to the great expectations.
Democracy as being practised here since the past 23 years has left many Nigerians hopeless rather than being hopeful as many Nigerians are now finding it difficult to trust any of politicians seeking political power in this country as most of them have shown to be birds of the same feather. How can leaders that travel to foreign countries for medical attention and send their own children to school overseas think seriously about developing their own country’s health and educational sectors? How can a country whose leaders build private universities for themselves, think about the serious funding and development of the public universities? It is very painful that at the time the country was celebrating her 62nd Independent anniversary the Federal Universities were under lock and key for months with no solution in sight to resolve the issue of strike between the university lecturers and the Federal government. We have now leaders that are inclined to destroy the Federal Universities most of them passed through and are no longer patronizing with their children. If our Nigerian leaders particularly the legislators are truly patriotic and really meant well for this country, let them outlaw public office holders going for health tourism and sending their children overseas for studies. Until this is done, we may not get it right in this country.
If we have been having patriotic leaders, Nigerian citizens will have no business complaining of hunger and poverty because the country is so blessed to get it right. Alaba, the young man earlier referred to get involved in agriculture but encountered grand failure due to the problem of herdsmen and their cows. He also with his wife got involved in the business of ponmo (animal skin) but equally failed. The government now wants to ban the ponmo business and a lawyer has threatened to go to court if that is done. The government just wakes up and decides to ban the consumption of ponmo on the pretence to revive the leather industry. The situation is so bad today that many families cannot even afford the consumption of ponmo talk less of beef, fish or chicken. Should the government be talking about only reviving the leather industry? What about other industries like the textile industry that used to be there in the Northern part of the country in those days? Are there still States in this country that invest largely and heavily in the Cotton, Groundnut, Cocoa, Rubber, and Palm Fruit Plantations among others? These are the kinds of things that need to be encouraged for the growth of industries in this country. These are the areas the State Governors who are in charge of lands in Nigeria should be given serious thought to .We often hear of the Governors Forum of Nigeria or the Association of the Local Governments, but one wonders why this kind of issues are not featuring their meeting agenda. Such forum would have been a better place for them to collaborate on resources in which various states have comparative advantages that can be exploited to the benefit of the entire nation.
Agriculture is not considered as priority by most States in this country and most individuals interested in that venture are not encouraged or protected. A classical example of what many farmers go through is depicted in the story of Alaba, the university graduate of Agricultural Extension. Agriculture as sector cannot thrive in this country in the absence of effective law and the willingness on the part of government to enforce it. The Farmers /Herders clashes have been very common in this country and until the government do the right things that problem will continue to affect the agricultural food production in this country. Since the world has embraced technology in the way of doing things, people in this part of the world cannot continue to do things in the same old ways by moving their animals everywhere for open grazing. Whether crops or animal farming, technology must be encouraged and embraced the way things are being done in the developed countries. If properly exploited and managed, agriculture is capable of providing employments for the able bodied young Nigerians roaming about the streets. A country that does not take the issue of children parenting very serious will continue to explode her population irrationally. In this part of the world, people are allowed without being cautioned to be having children they are not ready to cater for. This is more the reason why I agreed with Reno Omokri when he said:
“As long as a river is dry fish won’t come. Stop looking for women in your poverty. The first thing that a dry river needs is water, not fish. Look for water for your river and fish will come naturally. Look for prosperity and right women will come naturally. Eve came as soon as Adam secured the job of tending the garden. And until you have a salary or income, you should learn to control your libido. Much of the world’s challenges is caused by adult males who increase the population when they have no remuneration. Be productive in the boardroom before being reproductive in the bedroom!”
It is very disheartening that Nigeria at 62, you still today see many young Nigerians all over the places doing nothing meaningful. They are the products of adult males with high and aggressive libido but without reasonable sources of income. They are the people exploding population of the country that adds no value to the economic growth and development of the country that is yet to get it right. As long as there is no effective law on the ground to sanction these men of high libido that are only interested in procreating children but not ready to discharge their parental responsibilities, such madness will continue if not properly check to the disadvantage of the country. The numerical strength of this country is yet to reflect on the great resources it is abundantly blessed with. There are countries not naturally blessed with abundant fertile land like ours but are economically and agriculturally sustaining their population without complaining of hunger and poverty. Countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia have marvellously transformed their desert for their agricultural advantage. But unfortunately in this part of the world, those in charge of the Nigeria’s massive fertile land and forest have allowed the terrorists to turn what could have been our goldmine to criminal hide outs. It is very sad that at 62 and still moving on, Nigeria is yet to be at where it ought to be. While countries such as Singapore and Malaysia that started the journey of development with Nigeria have left her behind, countries such as China and India with higher population have gone beyond imagination in terms of economic growth and development.
NOTE: Anyone is at liberty to disagree with my above submissions as I will surely appreciate a balanced, fair and objective rebuttal.