By Yinka Odumakin
I BID a good friend and brother of mine farewell as I departed Lagos for the United Arab Emirate, UAE, last Wednesday and made another call to him about two hours later. He was so surprised and asked “What happened? Your plane returned?”. I explained to him I was calling through Airtime on on Emirates and he fumed to no end. “So we don’t have to switch off phones on Emirates? A feat the British Airways is yet to achieve? But this is (Emirates) airline of a country that came asking for loan from Nigeria in the 70s. Our own testimony today is that doors fall off our ramshackle privately owned planes as our country cannot put up one plane in the air space.We use ladders to disembark from planes and cows take over our runways even when planes are okay”.
I added to his lamentations by reminding him that there were only 10 primary schools in Dubai in 1974 at a time Nigeria already had some of the best Universities on the continent with my Great Ife as a shining beacon before the Federal Government brought its ashes touch.
As we landed in Dubai,the Nigerian agony reared its head as we travelled a distance like from Ikeja to Ikoyi from our landing point to the terminal building. I was in the company of two elderly men in the vehicle. The oldest of the two began a conversation with me as he heard me speaking Yoruba to my wife. After some pleasantries he asked me: “Is that our own a country okay? See everywhere lit up here.There is no human being who can walk this airport in a day. I just feel we should pack all our leaders in a plane and go and crash it .”
The other man waded in and asked where I live and I told him Lagos. He then said to me: “I am from Kwara.We both live under two of the principalities sleeping with Nigeria.I don’t think a plane crash would be okay to deal with our rulers.Some of them may survive it .I think it is better to look for another means to ensure that none of them escape.”
I was lost in thought as to how a ruling elite can be so disconnected and completely deranged not to be able to gauge the mood of the citizens and carry on as if all is well in the midst of these morbid wishes.The men I have just encountered were well to do by all standards. If their thoughts were an expression of what they verbally vocalised to me,what would be going on in the minds of the everyday folks struggling on the streets of the new definition of hopelessness called Nigeria ?
I slept with a heavy heart only to wake up on Thursday beholding the agony of Lagosians as the man they were waving brooms behind three years ago screaming “Sai Baba” came to town. The then opposition leader is today the Emir of Nigeria and has become a source of pain to the citizens as the city was locked down with commuters trekking about town hissing and cursing “Kai Baba”.
I later saw the pictures of the Presidential Visit with Alhaji Lai Mohammed in the mix. I asked myself what could be running through the mind of our Joseph Goebbles if there was still some conscience alive in him.Does he still remember what he wrote when there was heavy security bombardment when former President Goodluck Jonathan made a similar visit to Lagos in 2013 ?
Lai Mohammed six years ago
Six years ago when President Goodluck Jonathan visited Lagos state, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, was the spokesman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
To avoid a lockdown of the metropolitan city, Mohammed had suggested that the president should either reschedule his visit to the state or make use of a helicopter.
He wondered why the nation’s number one citizen inflict hardship on residents of the state during his visits.
“We have been compelled to write a letter to the Lagos State governor asking him to please prevail on the President to reschedule his visit. But if his visit must go on, he should use another means of transportation such as the helicopter so that the whole town is not locked up,” he had asked.
“Anytime Mr. President is coming to Lagos, our roads are closed, and traffic congestion is at its highest. The whole city is shut down for the entire day….. So, we’re appealing to Mr. President, through the Governor, to please reconsider his visit.
“And if he must come, he should inflict the minimum pain and hardship on Nigerians.”
So where is Mohammed’s testicular fortitude to make similar suggestions to his boss? It all confirms that when most opposition politicians criticise the incumbent,it is not out of better values but simply to score cheap political points or out of envy that they are not the ones carrying out the actions complained about .
The Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah captured this phenomenon well in the homily he delivered at the funeral mass for Bishop Bagobiri in Kaduna recently when he said inter alia “Church leaders are praised for being voices of the voiceless, standing for justice, courageous, etc. When things change and the opposition politician of yesterday gets to power, they expect you in their pocket. You raise the same issues and they accuse you of supporting the opposition, hating our government, standing in our way, being a danger to the nation, etc….. The late Cardinal Archbishop of Recife, Helder Camara said it all: When I feed the poor, the politicians say I am doing God’s work. When I ask why the people are poor, the politicians say I am a Communist.”
Lai Six years after
On Thursday evening , I was with the Medical Director of a health facility in Dubai. In the course of our discussion, I asked about a Nigerian young man I knew working for him. He told me the fellow is now in Nigeria promoting medical tourism. He said he was even looking at the possibility of setting up a facility in Nigeria so people don’t have to come all the way for healthcare .But that a call from the young man I asked for has changed his mind. That the young man told him he could not make his trip from Lagos to Abuja because flights were cancelled by airlines because the President was in Lagos to commission a bus park and attend the birthday bash of a local politician. He asked me if the boy was giving some silly excuse or that truly happened. I confirmed that the boy spoke the truth.
He looked at me straight in the eye and was silent for a minute before asking “Do you still have a country in that place?” I responded that one of the most celebrated authors in Nigeria titled his last work There Was A Country. He then said with a tone of finality: “I don’t think I have any business in such a place.Your people can keep coming here”.
As at the time this conversation was on, the President was at the Eko Atlantic City appreciating investors for their contribution s to the Nigerian economy(any such thing really?). He said that their investments had helped to provide employment for Nigerians, reduced the rate of unemployment in the country.
“I am extremely grateful to those that agreed to invest so much in our country.
“I have just gone round to see the Eko Atlantic City.
I am extremely impressed with the potentiality of this project and the number of jobs and its effect on the economy and what it is capable of bringing,’’ Buhari said.
Wasted mann hours
Little did he know that his visit to Lagos just erased an investment opportunity.
There can’t be any other reason for the Lagos lockdown, the fact that we are not dependent on productivity with this rentier economy.No matter what we do with businesses,we we still collect oil rents at the end of the month for gamblers in suit to go and share at FAAC meeting.
In the last few weeks, I have had discussions with a former President of this country and a Presidential aspirant that the most critical issue in restructuring is productivity without which we are going nowhere. Shagari budgeted $25b in 1983 when we were 80m and Buhari is budgeting $23b in 2018 when we are 200m people. Yet the state is preventing citizens from working to commission a park without buses and some owanbe.
Re: When TY spoke truth to unconscionable power
I REALLY do not understand those of us from the southern part of this entrapment called Nigeria!!!
Do we have to wait for TY Danjuma to speak the obvious truth?
Where are all our own Generals? Where are all our own Generals who had been used over the years to subdue us in this part of the country?
If we can keep quite when all State security agencies’ positions were given to a section of the country, what do we expect? I also read after TY spoke the truth, that the Army said it wants to be neutral!
NEUTRAL! Where is neutrality when innocent men,women and most especially children have been slaughtered?
We must stop all the writings and jaw -jaw and protest.
I am tired of buying Newspapers to continue reading acts of atrocities by terrorists and some people are talking about Cattle Routes!!!!
Where are our own southern Generals? Please fall in Line!