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The uselessness of Christmas (3)

By DOUGLAS Anele
AFTER all, a day, including each of the “three special days,” is 24 hours, made up of morning, afternoon and night. As the ancient Greek philosopher, Protagoras of Abdera, aptly remarked, “man is the measure of all things, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not.”

Therefore, a wise person should not sheepishly ape others during Christmas. Although social expectations and pressures at Christmas can sometimes appear impossible to resist, we must try as much as we can to overcome them.

There is absolutely no good reason for you to stress yourself or buy all those things your family members, relatives, friends, pastors, lovers and so on want you to buy for them.

You don’t have to overeat, get drunk, or attend all of the parties you were invited, all in the name of Christmas enjoyment. Just be your normal self and adhere to the principle of moderation in whatever you do. Enjoy yourself, but do not overdo things.

For those like myself who want to travel by road, we must be very careful, because the roads, particularly the ones in the south-east, are death traps, due to the fact that government officials responsible for fixing them are wicked – they don’t really care about us, in spite of the shameless crocodile tears by a former transport minister, Mrs. D. Allison-Madueke, when she inspected (should we say) the jinxed Ore-Benin segment of the Lagos-Benin expressway.

I appeal to the new inspector-general of police, Ogbonnaya Onovo, to do us a favour, like his predecessor did in 2007, by reducing the number of police checkpoints on the major expressways to the barest minimum.

The presence of the police on our roads at this time is necessary for security reasons. But the large number of checkpoints (some would rather call them police toll-gates) on the Lagos-Benin expressway and others further damages the already battered image of the police, and constitutes a serious cause of unnecessary delay and danger to travellers.

I know that Onovo is working really hard to improve the police, and we commend his efforts.

Still, we plead with him to spare travellers the avoidable sufferings and inconveniences arising from checkpointomania by his officers and men this Christmas period.

There is no scintilla of doubt in my mind that for most Nigerians, 2009 was a difficult year, because our sufferings continued unabated, and the present government lacks the necessary moral stamina and political will to govern well. I sincerely hope that 2010 will be better for all, especially for those of us who, inspite of the inhuman conditions in which we live and work, still put in our best in legitimate human endeavours.

Thinking about the avoidable sufferings Nigerians have been experiencing all these years, particularly during Christmas, makes me feel really bad, and I wish I have magical powers to bring all the incompetent and corrupt rulers to justice.

Right now, for instance, petrol is scarce, as a result of gross incompetence of those in charge of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other government parastatals and agencies responsible for managing the country’s petroleum  resources.

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, even before his recent illness, has not been able to implement the necessary reforms of the oil sector to address the perennial shortages of petroleum products, especially during yuletide. Top officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and members of the National Assembly with oversight functions over that ministry should be ashamed of themselves for failing to provide lasting solutions to a recurrent problem that makes our lives in Nigeria, the sixth largest exporter of crude oil amongst OPEC members, bitter with hardship.

In another country where the leaders are serious about the welfare of the citizens, the petroleum minister will resign, apologise to the people and take responsibility for his ministry’s incompetent handling of the petrol crisis.

But Rilwanu Lukman, just like other political appointees and high-ranking public office holders in Nigeria, is so preoccupied with remaining in office that he would  rather continue to “wobble and fumble” and watch askance as the petroleum sector continues to deteriorate, than resign honourably so that a more competent person can be appointed to take his place.

All the threadbare excuses given by top officials of NNPC to explain away the current fuel situation are mere hocus pocus to cover up their incompetence. We are tired of those excuses. It is a pity that the president, judging by his record in the last two years, lacks the iron will to deal decisively with the vultures that have mismanaged our crude oil resources since the nightmarish regime of retired general Ibrahim Babangida.

Thus, although many Nigerians are as corrupt and wicked as their rulers, I strongly believe that the ruling elite is so morally crippled that it will take a severe socio-political tsunami to bring about positive changes in the country.

Given the bleak economy and fuel scarcity in the country presently, most struggling Nigerians will not have a merry Christmas, and they are unlikely to have a happy new year too. But as I proposed earlier, be yourself  and make the best use of the bad situation we find ourselves in.


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