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Between Greek gift and absurdity

By Josef Omorotionmwan
NIGERIAN history may have gone full circle- from the founding fathers who could not tell a lie to the current crop of leaders, particularly at the central government, who cannot tell the truth.

We have also maintained, with monotonous regularity, that when people no longer know what to do, they start doing everything.

That is when the loss of one genuine purpose would lead to the pursuit of a dozen pseudo purposes.

For two years running, they have succeeded in killing the joy of our New Year. The fuel subsidy question of January 1, 2012 is almost history now.

On the eve of New Year Day 2013, while the powers-that-be were yet pulping Champaign in Aso Rock Villa, “enemies” were busy signing Title Documents for the same Aso Rock Villa – No Vacancy in Aso Rock in 2015!

Beautiful posters of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan had adorned every available space in FCT, Abuja, including the Aso Rock gates and walls.

Aso Rock quickly denied ownership of the posters.It was the handiwork of detractors. That’s what happens in the Christendom, where we make the devil more popular and more powerful than he really is. All the bad deeds, which far outweigh the good ones, are credited to the devil.

Come to think of it, would it not have been better to accept ownership of those posters? If the denials hold good, what are the implications for our security, if “enemies” could so easily invade our territory? How much longer would it have taken the bomb merchants, the Boko Haram to bomb down the whole place? We hope Boko Haram is not taking the vain denials seriously.

There are Greek gifts around. The Federal Government is now set to put 10million cell phones in the hands of rural farmers. Bravo! At first, we attempted to ask of the utility of the raincoat to the fish.

Perhaps, the Federal Government has forgotten that there is no network in many parts of the FCT, Abuja, talk less of the Republics of Ekudo, where the rural farmers are.

This is another case of “trouble de sleep yanga go wakam”. The Federal Government now thinks that the rural farmers are so daft that they cannot realise that the batteries for those cell phones have to be charged by electric current and this is a facility that the same Federal Government has stoically denied the ruralities.

Suddenly, you are bringing them cell phones. We can hear the rural farmers saying, “Federal Government no know sey poverty no be craze”.

Past governments that meant good to farmers provided them with farm implements like cutlasses, files, hoes, etc. Some have given them soft loans. Although these were screwed at implementation, they were still better than this rip-off of N60 billion on innocent farmers. Thank God, there is God. The Greek gift has been rejected nationwide.

Once upon a time, we had the Nigeria Airways. It flourished at home and abroad. It was affordable. Up to the early 1980s, secondary school students boasted of how they hopped into the plane in Benin City after school on Friday afternoon, went to Lagos, had a nice weekend and returned to Benin on Monday early enough to go to school – all for less than N15 in the money of that era.

Suddenly, the Nigeria Airways went into extinction. Local air travel became a luxury only for the nouveau riche. The Federal Government still wants to favour this same class by intervening, not to revive the Nigeria Airways, but to buy 30 planes and hand them over to the private airlines so that they can bring down the air fare for them. Smart guys!

Meanwhile, we hear that in the entire world, Nigeria holds the clear record of the largest Presidential Aircraft Fleet (PAF). While the richest nations have at most two aircraft in their PAF, the poorer ones like Ghana, Algeria, etc, have only one. Almighty Nigeria has TEN (10) planes in her PAF and these are maintained at an average cost of N9.08 billion per annum.

From the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) website, we gather that PAF’s current staff strength consists of 47 NAF officers, 173 airmen/airwomen and 96 civilian staff, both technical and administrative. And all these do not come into reckoning when looking at the cost of running the presidency.

In Nigeria, we see a clear case of the presidency being richer than the entire country. Nigeria has no National Carrier. PAF has the third largest fleet of aircraft in the country. With its 10 aircraft, it comes closely behind Aerocontractors, which has 14 aircraft. Arik Air, the largest commercial airline in the country, has 23 aircraft. IRS Airlines has four operational aircraft in its fleet; Dana Air has four; Firstnation has three; while Medview has two aircraft.

The Queen and the Prime Minister of England go on British Airways chartered flights for long trips. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has come under public opprobrium lately for chartering a foreign aircraft.

Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves man weaker as well as stronger. In each victory, besides being the general who triumphs, man is also the prisoner who follows the triumphal train. We see the Trojan horses that are now being foisted on us as a direct way of enlarging the business empires of a few individuals, thus further impoverishing society and its poor masses.

The Ministries of Agriculture and Aviation have been bold enough to unfold their blueprints. What of the other Ministries? Proactiveness simply demands that we must prepare our minds even for the worst scenarios.

Now that prominent Nigerians are calling on the President to revamp his Executive Council, would it be out of place to ask each Ministry to carefully arrange a good severance package for the departing Ministers? What better manifestation can anyone have? There is still one consolation: God judges all!


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