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Total Tedium

By Donu Kogbara
Dear Readers, I am totally bored with Nigerian issues!

Sure, there have been some interesting and radical new developments in recent years – such as the emergence of the first-ever Niger Deltan President, his appointment of the first-ever female Minister of Petroleum and the fact that millions of ordinary Nigerians can access the internet and own mobile phones.

But the bottom line is still the same as it was a decade ago. Nothing works properly. Selfish, incompetent, greedy, corrupt government officials still get away with messing us up and still hypocritically trot off to churches and mosques every week, while continuing to be unrepentant amoralists.

And we’re still struggling with environmental disasters, serious poverty in every region, lousy roads/hospitals/schools, power outages, shortages of decent housing, high levels of crime and violence, unpunished sexual harassment of vulnerable women by men who can make or break them. And so on.

Even the once-sensational Boko Haram phenomenon has become pedestrian, given that the authorities have not been able to prevent so-called Islamic warriors from inflicting death and destruction on a daily basis. Outrages that occur with alarming regularity gradually become norms and cease to shock.

The list of our unresolved traumas is endless. And for me as a journalist who comments on current affairs for a living, it is becoming increasingly difficult to  keep churning out columns – week in, week out – about the same old, same old, never-fundamentally-changing status quo.

This page is titled “Sweet And Sour”. But sourness dominates with a dreary predictability because there’s hardly anything sweet to focus on; and I frequently feel like dozing off before I’ve completed the first paragraph!

When I told a friend that I am suffering from a bad case of ennui and am sick to the back teeth of dwelling on Naija headaches in social gatherings and newspaper articles, he said it was my duty to rise above my disillusionment and continue to bang on interminably about our woes because, according to him:

“This nation will never move forward if sincere professional commentators and thinkers like you lose the will to highlight the problems that are paralyzing us.”

I’m flattered that my friend thinks that journalists can play a useful role. But I really don’t see what value one adds by constantly repeating oneself to the point where one starts to sound like a soporific echo! When one has already analysed and complained about Boko Haram 20 times, what more can one contribute?

How often can one berate and beg politicians – most of whom arrogantly refuse to act on constructive criticisms – to get off their backsides and do their jobs well? What is the point of constantly talking at brick walls?

I often feel as if I am writing this column on auto-pilot because I write it without engaging my brain much. I can almost compose “Sweet And Sour” with my eyes shut nowadays ‘cos I’ve said it all before and have nothing new to say.

The thing that depresses me most is the fact that the average Nigerian is so bovinely philosophical in the face of avoidable adversity and so slavishly willing to put up with nonsense that the nightmares that are routinely dumped on the general public from On High are not likely to end any time soon. And I wholeheartedly agree with whoever said that we get the leadership we deserve.

Total frustration

The PHCN cable that serves the area around my family home in Port Harcourt was stolen a fortnight ago. And those who have generators have been spending a fortune on diesel, while those who can’t afford generators are sweating it out.

I hear that this is not a rare occurrence and that the authorities are so unconcerned when cables mysteriously disappear that they don’t bother to investigate…and that it is widely believed that they don’t bother to investigate because they know that the cables were stolen by their own officials…and that residents of affected neighbourhoods usually have to take matters into their own hands by putting money together to buy replacements.

Why is this country so warped?

I spend a lot of time in United Kingdom and I’ve never heard of an electricity cable being stolen in the United Kingdom. And I can assure you that if it ever happens, the authorities will react speedily and sympathetically…and not only immediately summon the police to aggressively search for the culprit but quickly provide funds for a new cable, to protect their constituents from inconvenience.

One crucial difference between politicians there and politicians here is that the former cannot get away with rigging elections and have to earn votes.


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