I have failed the second time trying to maintain a weekly post on my blog; in between my daily hustles and in the past two weeks being very occupied with ‘occupying’ Nigeria, I tried to jot something because ideas just fly about in my head like commuters jostling for a bus; so I tried to record my thoughts on paper. My failure didn’t occur to me until a faithful follower and friend sent a message to me saying ‘it’s been a while you posted on your blog’… so where did all my jottings go?
After reading her message, I told myself ‘it’s time to work’, so I set forth at dawn with my machete and axe to plough. Although, I wish there is a land, one still flowing with milk and honey. How I wish I could say the land is green; it is Nigeria of course, what other land can I plough? And who else I do intend to weed if not the government who likes to feed us with cruel policies that would choke us so that we would not be able to cry fowl.
After the Christmas bombing at St. Theresa Catholic church, Madalla, the news of the mother of all bombings spread across Nigeria; Boko Haram will attack again on New Year’s Day and we were warned against any form of gathering. On the so called ‘D’ Day’ rather than celebrate, we were security conscious that we avoided gatherings (especially those in the north). And suddenly, as we were about to heave a sight of relief the threats were empty after all, BOOOOOM!!!!!! It was deafening and utterly shocking! So disastrous that this time, not only a few, but practically every Nigerian was caught! Indeed it was the mother of all bombings; the fuel subsidy removal didn’t leave anyone unhurt.
The next day (trust Nigerians!), prices of goods and services doubled; some even tripled. Many people who couldn’t further their journey to work returned home, others went grudgingly and those who travelled during Christmas had to sell some of their belongings to return home. But then I ask which way forward?
The government resolved that fuel subsidy removal is the best way forward but to Nigerians that is the fastest way backward; an unreasonable decision, the polity will suffer and immeasurably too. The second week was massive, Nigerians set out to occupy what is theirs; nobody is saying fuel subsidy removal is wrong but the government is wrong by not cutting down corruption, tightening their belts, providing the basic needs of the people before removing anything. Of the world’s top 10 producers of crude oil, Nigeria’s minimum wage is miserly. At 18,000 naira, we are forced to eat cake crumbs, while government officials binge on the national cake; they collect allowance on everything including the smallest of things that their salaries should cater for and we are expected to carry the burden of fuel subsidy removal on our already burdened backs while the government continue to grow bulgy stomachs!
We had decided to plough on a sterile land, it was the fifth day and not an action from the government, not an action from me either because I had stopped reading articles and blackberry broadcasts about occupy Nigeria, the whole situation was getting to me faster than to the government and I recalled I had wished that this struggle will give birth to a Jerry Rawlings and Nigerians would live happily ever after. On the sixth day, I had hoped that while we rested at home the government would see reason and come to a conclusion but instead I see the government on the podium of unrest-in the name of meetings and negotiations- cracking the ribs of their cohorts at our expense. Well, at that time we still had NLC on our side even when people were beginning to loose hope; we felt they were fighting our course. On Monday and technically the sixth day of strike, after all said and said and after unleashing the soldiers on us, the strike was suspended at a consensus price of 97 naira per litre. A protest of five days felt the sting of betrayal, all along our enemy was within stirring us to charge yet caressing the back of the government.
Although few Nigerians still think it is the best way forward, development won’t come if fuel subsidy is not removed. But I ask again, on which path are we going to tread? What has been laid that will make the journey traversable? The government making this policy, what exertions- in the very least- have they shown us to make us see reason? (Oh! They actually did, 25per cent of basic salary!) And how well have they prepared us for the journey? If fuel subsidy is removed and the prices of goods and services are increased, how does it improve a dead economy? We all want well for ourselves; a 51 years old woman deserves to reap the fruits from the hardships she had sown all her life. Fuel subsidy removal is not the issue; it is the government and their ways of implementation that is questionable and unreasonable.
Since 2009, 935 people have died in the Boko Haram attacks and nothing has been done except that 100 million naira was paid as compensation to the family of the late Boko Haram leader. On the 20th of January, 162 precious lives were lost in the Kano bombings and barely 24 hours later, 11 people also killed in Bauchi. How people’s lives have turned goat meat; our lives are not secured even in our own land. When we manage to catch a Boko Haram suspect alive, he escapes; if he dies, the government compensates his family while the victims are given a mass burial. For how long are we going to tolerate this insensitivity? How many more deaths before the government realizes that this madness must stop? Citizens now live daily in trepidation; they can’t walk freely on the streets without being blown up by bombs, shot or mobbed.
Thus, I wish to weed the government and its corrupt practices; I wish to weed the continuous trend of ‘chop- I- chop- while- the- masses- suffer’; I wish to weed a government whose judicial edifice has more or less crumbled and in its place a shanty, of glaring corruption and injustice. This is the government I wish to weed… I wish there is a land, one still flowing with milk and honey. How I wish I could say the land is green.