Opinion

Uncommon transformation of Nigeria and uncommon prayers

By Owei Lakemfa

Ameer Sarkee, a 26-year-old male member of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is contesting for a national office in his party. There is nothing unusual in a party member contesting an elective post. What, however, makes this unusual is that he is running for the position of APC National Women Leader. He is not joking; he is already on the campaign trail.

It is usual to expect the unusual in the APC. It is a party that vowed to bring the Naira at parity to the Dollar, but has instead taken the national currency from less than N240 to N554. It promised that it would restructure the country, but turned round threatening those who insist on restructuring with treason felony.

Let us return to Sarkee, an English language-challenged graduate of the Kano State Polytechnic. He says he wants to be APC Women Leader because: “Ever since I was a child when I saw a woman in need of help I tried to help her – like helping them to carry their loads or buying them something – and that’s why I wanted to be the female leader of our party. Some people ask me why I am running for the post and my answer is ‘God created men to guide the affairs of women. So it is not a bad thing for me to want to lead women, especially given that I mean well for them.”

Taking his campaigns serious, he says: “The biggest challenge I face is gaining the trust of women; some are jealous of seeing me leading them, others think I’m going to take what belongs to them.”

We will have to wait and see if the party will disqualify Sarkee based on his gender; will that not be discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional? Being the most democratic party in Nigerian history, I am sure the APC will allow the electorate decide the fate of Sarkee.

APC, a party that once sacked all its elected leaders from the ward to the national and, wait for it, sacked all its members and asked everyone, including President Muhammadu Buhari, to register anew, cannot but produce members like Sarkee.

At the point the party sacked all its members and asked them to register afresh, the APC must have entered the Guinness Book of Records as the first ruling party in history without a single member.

On June 5, 2021, the Buhari administration banned Twitter not just for its effrontery in deleting tweets by President Buhari, but also, as the government claims, for being used to undermine “Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

The government accused Tweeter of allowing “the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages (that) could tear some countries apart”. It also claimed: “There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.”

Justice Minister Abubakar Malami SAN also informed Nigerians that government had “directed for immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria”.

A poster-boy of the APC is Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai. He is supposed to be loyalty-personified and a leader expected to obey rules imposed on the citizenry. But on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, he was caught tweeting in violation of the ban. So, was his tweet wilful or a mistake? It may never be known, but the reason he gave was that he was out of the country.

To this, a social activist, Aisha Yesufu, retorted: “You really should be absolutely and disgustingly ashamed of yourself @elrufai. You are going outside to enjoy the very basic thing a government you are part of have denied the people. While enjoying Twitter without VPN, you also enjoy the security you have denied your people.”

The APC government has pushed the country into debt enslavement. Its excuse is that it is borrowing to fund infrastructure not to pay overhead. The main infrastructure being funded is railways. Minister of Transport, Chibuike Ameachi, went before the National Assembly to defend the rail construction budget. The parliamentarians discovered that the Nigeria-Maradi (Niger Republic) railway is a modern standard gauge while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern rail network is the out-dated narrow gauge.

The Chairman, Committee on Port, Pat Asadu told Minister Amechi: “For a segment of this country that is known for trade and commerce, they need railway as they need air. Why is the Ministry doing a 287 kilometres of railway track from Kano to Maradi that you will fund with Nigerian money borrowed for Nigerians to be paid by our children, to do a world class railway to Maradi? I also know the economy of Niger Republic and I believe the economy of the South-East is bigger than that of Maradi. I am not even talking of South-South.”

A plausible answer is that for the Buhari government, charity does not start at home, it begins abroad. The interests of foreigners supersede those of Nigerians.

What in recent times has freaked me out about this government is not its claim that it spent N523.3 million on school feeding programme when Nigerians, including school children, were at home on COVID-19 lockdown. Not its unscientific and contradictory excuse that the cost of rice has quadrupled under it in six years because of alleged smuggling and dumping of goods.

Rather, it is its award of a N621 billion Naira road contract to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. The corporation has constantly been accused by parliament and state governments of unconstitutionally dipping its hands into the federation account. Apart from this, the corporation is so inefficient in the discharge of its primary duties in the petroleum and gas sector that the country for decades now imports its petroleum products needs because the NNPC, even with four large refineries, cannot refine products.

For the Buhari Presidency which has a Ministry of Works, and a specialised road construction agency, FERMA to award road construction to the NNPC that has zero experience in the field, defeats all logic. In any case, where is the appropriation for this money?

Governance in Nigeria is like the Abuja loaf of bread: ever less filling, lower quality with continuously rising prices.

My prayer for all those who claim that President Buhari is a gift to Nigeria is that they receive such gifts in multiple folds. For those who claim Buhari has performed so well that he is more popular than outstanding nationalists like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Malam Aminu Kano, I pray that the same way he has ruled Nigeria, so may their lives be ruled. The same way President Buhari has transformed the lives of Nigerians, so may their lives be transformed. Ameen.

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