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Somehow, we get by

By Rotimi Fasan
THAT’S the truth of our present condition- we get by. Somehow: In the apparent stagnancy of our existence as a country, a people, we manage to move on- somehow. We are now in December, the last month of the year which several months ago we were promised would put an end to our life in the dark.

Let there be light, we imagined! And there will be…Well, it’s still darkness all over. Six thousand megawatts here we come. The Year 2000 seemed like eternity to many around the world and a lot of social and political transformations, to say nothing of human existence as we knew it, were expected to take place.

Both the led and their leaders hinged so much on this year of magic when water, food and housing among other things were expected to be in abundance.

Humanity is nine years into the second millennium and billions around the world, especially in the ‘developing’ parts, still go without- no light, no water, no food, etc. Nigeria which under the military could not even keep to a 1990 transition to civil rule programme keyed into the 2000 bogey and we failed like failure itself.

Rather than achieving the promised bounty of 2000, diseases reigned and still reign among us with impunity, more Nigerians have no food to eat while those who do have only enough to tide them over the next moment; jobs are being lost even as young Nigerians find their way out of school into the job(less) army.

Our catalogue of woes get bigger by the day and,  perhaps, in recognition of the enormity of the problems of the past and the futility of projecting too far into the future as most did with Year 2000, the Yar’Adua administration chose to be a little modest in its aims.

So it came up, six months ago, with the promise to increase the country’s electricity supply that hovered at various times between a paltry 1000 megawatts and a disgraceful 3,000 megawatts for a country of over 140 million people.

Many thought six months was too short a time for the Administration to set right the problem of the power sector. But having failed to keep to its inaugural promise of correcting the ills in the sector by a declaration of emergency to address the problems, this government had no option but to be seen to be doing something. And so it promised to make light more available to Nigerians in six months time.

In the light of the outcry that followed incessant power failure in the early months of this year, anything that could assuage the people’s pain, including an apparently empty promise, was welcome. December to the Yar’ Adua government must have, indeed, seemed like forever six months ago. But it’s only a little period of darkness that separates daylight from midnight. We’re today in December and only God knows how many Nigerians had the benefit of electricity for the period of the Sallah holiday to say nothing of how many more will have it in the days, months and years ahead.

We remain hopeful, and are yet waiting to see just how this government intends to demonstrate to Nigerians how much power supply has improved since it promised to make it more available six months ago. Would the demonstration have the ceremony that attended past promises to up power supply to 6,000 megawatts?

Or would it all be silence from government’s end now? Although this is but the first day of December, meaning a lot might still happen between now and the 31st day of December. But the morning can well tell the day. What signs are there that this government can yet live up to its promise of six months ago?

With the administration seeming to move in whatever direction in fits and starts, who is to see to the realisation of just this one promised ‘dividend of democracy’ among several others? Many would say there is little to hope for. Not with President Yar’Adua exhibiting every sign of fatigue and a sense of inadequacy to fulfil the oath he swore to on inauguration, or the mandate he supposedly got to rule Nigeria in 2007.

It seems cruel, very cruel to hear Nigerians speak so cavalierly of the President’s health, a manner that sort of suggests he is unfit for the office. The impression one has of those who talk in this manner is that they’re aware of some particular thing the President did to account for his present state of health. Yet one can’t completely dismiss such criticism for the one thing they hold the President responsible for may be no more than the fact that he seems bent on holding on to an office he seems unprepared for, health-wise.

If he had the office imposed on him in 2007, what is stopping him now coming out clean about his state of health and explaining why he might not be continuing in office to say nothing of seeking a second term as he or the PDP, on his behalf, sometimes appear determined to?

Pastor Tunde Bakare couldn’t have known the President was again on his way to Saudi Arabia, three months after a similar visit to his doctors, when he spoke with The News editors last week. But the pastor scored a bull’s eye with his comments on this government. Bakare in the interview all but wrote the President off as a non-starter.

Yet his criticism largely centred on the President’s failure to respect his own state of health. Who really is in charge when the President is a constant visitor in hospitals? Others simply exercise powers Nigerians never gave them as was the case with those who thought they were doing the President a favour when they decided Nasir El Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu were no longer Nigerians and so didn’t deserve the Nigerian passport.

There’s danger ahead and we can’t move forward in an atmosphere like this. Why should Nigerians be sympathetic when the President himself doesn’t seem bothered about his own health as his clinging to the office of president eloquently says? Nigeria needs to make progress and not just get by. Can President Yar’Adua help us?

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