I’m flabbergasted by the relentless unkindness that Nigeria’s rulers are inflicting on the millions who aren’t members of their cabal.
It isn’t enough that electricity is in short supply or that electricity now costs three or four times as much as it did a few months ago.
It isn’t enough that the economy is on its knees or that, thanks to mismanagement of our resources and raging inflation, almost everyone is struggling to pay for almost everything, including food.
It isn’t enough that insecurity is so widespread that internally-displaced people abound, while inhabitants of every geopolitical zone live in constant fear of rape, murder, kidnapping and armed robbery.
It isn’t enough that schoolchildren are abducted on a regular basis or that terrorists, bandits, rogue herdsmen, traders in human body parts, pirates, etc, often run rings around law enforcement personnel (or turn them into business partners) and have made our highways, waterways, cities, towns and villages super-dangerous.
It isn’t enough that corruption is so uncontrolled that we frequently hear shocking stories about VIPs and their cronies stealing or “earning” billions of naira…while ragged juveniles beg on the streets, while hungry pensioners beg for crumbs that they rarely receive and while the less-privileged government contractors literally die from stress because money they’ve been owed for years never arrives.
It isn’t enough that indigenes of oil-producing areas are drowning in pollution and poverty, while a small handful of stinking-rich big boys and big girls wallow in untold petrodollar-funded luxury.
It is not enough that most Nigerian hospitals are extremely inadequate at best and unregulated death traps at worst.
If I list every woe that the majority of Nigerians have to contend with, I will fill several newspaper pages, so let’s stop at this broad description of a status quo that is sad as well as infuriating and focus on how Nigeria’s leaders relate to a suffering population.
OK so, guess what?
It isn’t enough that they have betrayed and neglected us on every practical level and on an epic scale. They must verbally torment us as well!!! They must insult us and taunt us and crush our spirits.
Instead of displaying a soupcon of empathy and at least pretending to be sorry that we are frightened and broke and in pain and dying in droves because they have screwed up, they must talk down at us as if we are idiots and as if we are wicked for daring to complain.
Instead of humbly and sensitively soothing our frazzled nerves when we worry about how to pay our bills, they must tell us to shut up and insult our intelligence and just generally mock the hell out of us.
Instead of coming up with respectful excuses for broken election campaign promises (like Mr President going abroad to take care of his health despite saying in 2014/15 that his administration’s officials would not indulge in medical tourism), they must imperiously and scornfully gaslight us and toss arrogant, mendacious jibes at us.
Last month, Lauretta Onochie, a presidential sidekick, reacted thus when her boss was criticised for going to London for medical reasons, instead of investing in the domestic healthcare sector and getting treated at home:
She tweeted: “Next year, Pres. @MBuhari will go for a routine checkup. We have been here since 2016. It’s been the same wailing. So the response will also be the same. At least, once a year, people across the world see their personal doctors especially one they have seen for about 40 years.
“@MBuhari won’t dump his doctor of about 40 years so that wailers can be happy. That’s blackmail. Thankfully, he doesn’t pay blackmailers. In 2016, I ran from one media house to the other, educating us on the psychology of the bond between a patient & his/her long-standing doctor. He went for #CheckUp in 2017, 2018, 2019 & in 2020, just before the pandemic. Same wailing and same explanations.
“The fact remains that if @MBuhari chooses, he will go for checkups in 2022 & 2023. He will continue to go. It’s his choice to go or not to. I don’t know any man who will accept a different barber to cut his hair if the one he is used to is available.
“Wailing can’t take away his rights to see his personal doctors so wailers must get ready for two more years of wailing and fooling around. God bless Nigeria.”
Other APC stalwarts have been similarly rude and morally incoherent when called upon to explain this government’s shortcomings.
They treat us like subjects rather than citizens. They talk and behave like kings and queens, not like elected servants of the people.
So many Nigerians are utterly miserable and languishing in deep sloughs of despair because of the nonchalance and contempt that are lavished on them by those who have been entrusted with power.
We are emotionally drained. We are profoundly depressed. We feel like zombies and the Walking Wounded as we try our best to keep our heads above water. We don’t know who to turn to because those who are supposed to take care of us don’t give a damn.
Why we put up with this ongoing trauma, I do not know.
TRIBAL AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY
Nigeria is going through an obsessively ethnocentric phase. There is also an unprecedented concentration on religious differences.
This problem is tragic but soluble.
Truth is that nobody will care about tribe or religion if a superlative leader emerges. As long as he or she can deliver ethical governance and dynamic development, we will loudly hail him or her, regardless of where he or she comes from.
As long as an excellent leader can make us feel better about ourselves and pour balm on our emotionally-abused psyches and motivate us to feel hopeful about the future, we will enthusiastically cooperate and forget about whether the person in question is a Southerner or Northerner or Igbo or Yoruba or whatever.