By Swill Mavua
THE journey from the Kirikiri Canal offices of Vanguard Newspapers to my residence ought not to be more than a 20-minute drive on normal smooth and free road. But in Nigeria, there is hardly anything normal in our day-to-day activities as a people, anymore; and so, leaving Vanguard premises at 5.35pm, I had hoped that at the very worst I would make it home in an hour. But as it turned out, by 10.00 pm I was still locked up in the middle of a no-moving traffic.
You could see the frustration and anger on the faces of most of the motorists, some of whom, most probably like me, were returning home, or going, to attend to some matters before retiring for the night rest. But there we were, knowing no cause of the traffic jam, neither was there anybody to offer any explanation nor was a single agent of state – Police, Road Safety or LASTMA – to be found.
With a bottled-up anger in me but sitting in the comfort of my car and wasting away the night, I began to reflect on the project called Nigeria. My anger, obviously, was against the state. My thought was ignited when I realised that my fuel gauge indicated less than a quarter tank. Boy! I chuckled to myself and it was then I spied the time on the dashboard.
In the dream world of my thoughts, I had wondered what the problem was with us Nigerians. Why is it that, as a nation, we really cannot successfully manage anything that is a public asset? It is such a pain that even the health challenges of our President could not be properly managed; so much so, we have become an international password of caricature in the comity of nations. That is not just because of the Presidentâ€™s mismanaged ill-health though, but a culmination of all our failings in tackling simple national challenges.
In our chequered history, we have never run a successful government. Name one; from Tafawa Balewa through Umaru Yarâ€™Adua. All the national institutions bequeathed to us by the colonial masters have all but failed. What about those established by the founding fathers? Everything seemed to have failed. Where is our mass carrier – the Nigeria Railways; what of Nigeria Airways; where is NEPA (oh sorry, Please Hold Candle of Nigeria (PHCN)?
Is it the so-called federal roads that are motorable? We need not talk about education and healthcare or security of life and property; their woes stir us daily reminding us of our ineptitude as a people. Save for the multinational oil majors who man our upstream activities in the oil and gas industries, NNPC is all but a failure. Its failure is connoted in the downstream sector, as seen in our grounded refineries and the resort to the importation of petroleum products.
What a shame! Can we really manage anything in such a way as to encourage development and progress of our people? The development of basic infrastructure is all that Nigerians ask for as a mark of good governance from their leaders. Is that such a difficult task?
That seemingly caused me to smile. You do not know, dear me! The responsibility of the Nigerian President or state governor is not to provide leadership but to dispense the commonwealth of the people to himself and his cronies, thereby satisfying the national creed – greed.Â Â Arenâ€™t you a Nigerian? No Nigerian seeks public office or aspires to do a public job without having in mind the unwritten first principle of service in Nigeria: Grab as much for yourself and be made for life, securing your future and those of your generations.
I could not help but smile whimsically to myself. If that is not true, why will Madam Turai Yarâ€™Adua and her cabal hold her incapacitated husband captive in desperate efforts to hang onto power in the Presidentâ€™s name? And what is the ransom? Of course, with so much to be cornered at the Presidency, power is certainly too sweet to let go.
An oil block licence alone could fetch as much hundreds of million of dollars in commission or kickback – if in doubt, ask Gen. T. Y. Danjuma – and there is also a 53 per cent of the federation account accruing to the Federal Government to play around with. What with the appointment of friends and cronies to choice offices in the land.
All the scheming to control the all-powerfulÂ government at the centre is as a result of the enormous oil wealth that is available to it which is distributed to feed the wants and desires of those who control power to the detriment of the Nigerian masses, and particularly the region from where the oil flows. Well, could somebody help me tell those in authority that my grandfather was paid 230 pound sterling in 1963 for an oil well that is still producing till date in our land. In my frustration, I may as well choose the devilâ€™s alternative and become an informed militant. Shell PDC, please note. Truly, I am a Nigerian.
Mr. Mavua, a media projectsÂ consultant,writes from Lagos.