By Sunny Ikhioya
As I went round the city of Lagos observing things during the past few weeks and from feelers received from other parts of the country since the fuel price increase, I could not but wonder about the resilience of the Nigerian masses. They displayed strong character and bravery in the face of daunting challenges that have been put in place by people they elected to bring succor to their existence. They were ready to bear, suffer more for the change that has been promised them. For those people that have specialized in type casting the average Nigerian as fraudulent both at the international and local media, they are seeing the true Nigerians now; resilient, hard working, patient and faithful.
If this government is going to achieve some measure of success in the programmes that they have promised the people, the credit for such must first go to the Nigerian masses, who have been raped, pillaged, sucked and abandoned, yet, they stood ‘thick and thin’ throughout the period.
Such goodwill is very rare in any nation of the world except those run by dictators. Look at the nations of Venezuela, Brasil, Tunisia, even in Nigeria, such goodwill has never been witnessed in our history. It is like the people are tired of all the shenanigans associated with frequent strike actions and have decided to once and for all bring an end to it, especially as it concerns the fuel subsidy. At least let us see the end of this subsidy farce and see what our government will come up with next. Incidentally, they are now giving us another reason, it is not subsidy anymore, the government is broke. Well, the people have already decided to be patient and they will wait.
No nation moves ahead without the sacrifice of its people, the exploratory searches of Mungo Park and the rest were done to further the interest of the British empire. The capacity of the Nigerian man to perform has never been in doubt, right from historical times, the Benin carvings and bronze casting technology were in existence before contact with the white man, same with the Nok culture in the middle belt of Nigeria.
The average Nigerian is dogged and found almost everywhere in the world in search of greener and legitimate pastures as depicted by the forty three Nigerian doctors that graduated out of a class of ninety six from the famous Howard University, USA. Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of intellectuals, all making contributions in their various endeavors, all over the world, why is the average Nigerian criminalized then? Have those we placed in government made criminals out of the people?
In other words, have the conducts of people we have as leaders encouraged the criminal behaviors of Nigerians? Where did things go wrong? Have we really been blessed with true leaders or we have pretenders? Why are nations known for corruption like India having their progress graph rising and that of Nigeria is going down? Can this trend be reversed?
Fortunately, by their action, Nigerians believe in the ability of this government to reverse the trend. These times have exposed the Nigerian capacity to bear or make sacrifices – price increases; of fuel, tomato, cement, transport, non payment of wages, inflation, harassment and the likes, yet they hope. No government has gotten this kind of goodwill that the present one is enjoying now both from within and outside our shores. So, the ball is in their court to reciprocate, that is; make the living conditions of Nigerians better.
Nigerians cannot afford to go down further, we are down already, the only route left is the way up. Those in position at different levels must begin to make their presence felt in a positive way. If the government is winning the war against corruption, it is expected that leaking holes are being plugged and both recovered loots and monies saved from the blockages will be used for the benefits of the people, the people will want to see that, we must use the proceeds to boost the economy.
The people must be compensated for the sacrifice that they have made, they have refused to go to the streets because they have faith in this government, this APC government must not disappoint them. This is the first time in our history, that a strike will be called by the NLC against the federal government increase of fuel price and the people did not respond. The government did not bother to consult with relevant stake holders, they took the action by ‘fiat’ and the people did rise up in support of the government.
We must henceforth, begin to see result, the foreign exchange issue must be addressed; cut on medical tourism abroad and all non essential imports. Cut on expenditures, beginning from the Presidency, reduce frequent foreign travels and concentrate on the home front. Our legislators at all levels must do same, every top government functionary must have his/her medical needs attended to in this country, that way, they will be in position to have first hand information on the challenges facing our institutions and help to proffer solutions.
We are hopeful that the private refineries will soon come on stream and the foreign exchange resulting from import savings will be channeled to more productive uses. It is also gladdening that Lagos state has joined the oil producing states, which will give succor to the volatile Niger Delta region. It is also hoped that the community from which this oil is produced will not be cruelly treated the way our federal government and foreign oil companies did to the Niger Delta communities. It gives us hope to see the Lagos-Calabar rail project in the current budget, it will be great if the government can bring it to completion within two years. It is hoped also, that our power generating/transmission/distribution companies will live up to expectations. The people have waited enough, they cannot afford to fail.
All hands must be on deck to make sure that this government succeed in bringing smiles back to the faces of the ever boisterous people of Nigeria.
It is President Buhari’s lot to see it to fruition and history will not be on his side if he fails.
Follow Ikhioya is on Twitter @SunnyIkhioya.