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Economy: Falsehoods in Belt-Tightening Narratives By Andrew A. Erakhrumen

It will be a hasty generalisation to conclude that Nigeria does not havepeople (among politicians) with genuine positive intentions for the country but they are in the minority, powerless and suppressed.

The subsisting tragic experience is that those in criminal entrepreneurship are increasingly forcing their way to power! We welcome those who disagree with us to give clear indices demonstrating that this country, through the activities of these stationary bandits (and their followers), has made sincere efforts towards moving forward in the last 20years; this is to simply limit their analyses to that brief period.

 All we are hearing of, and seeing, are shameful ludicrousness giving good reasons to people in other countries to scoff at Nigeria that hastolerated, and is now used to, mediocrity and inferior materials! Many Nigerians appear to not know, and/or unable to discern, what high quality humans and products look like. 

Have they ever known any? Inferior people have taken over their living and running of their lives! There has been so much cascading, intense deliberate (collective)normalisation, and rewarding, of inferior and mediocre performances! Nigerians should, by now, have freed themselves from the once-valid but now-expired lamentation that their beloved country was always taking a step forward and two backwards; today, Nigeria has successfully ‘upgraded’ to taking almost ALL its steps backwards! Ithas been hijacked by, and for, a few! Listening to the abundant low quality Nigerian political office holders will madden a sane person; Nigerians have been so much taken for granted that they are talked down to, as slaves, anytime!

Recently, a Nigerian senator in the current 10th National Assembly – as typical of many of his colleagues – in a self-centred manner, on a national television station, tried to glibly justify the attempted, and/or actual, purchase of sports utility vehicles at 160million Naira each for the 469 members of the assembly. This kind of scandalous appropriation is not new concerning the executive and legislative arms of Nigerian governments, at least, since 29th May, 1999. Here, we are not talking about their tear-inducing “legitimate”entitlements/privileges! Additional annoyance to sanity is theshameless recklessness with which these unbothered public office holders explain these broad daylight robberies away in the midst of festering gnawing poverty in the land! Did any of the assembly members belonging to the “different” political parties reject the vehicle? No! Why? As we have been saying, they are the same people! These insensitive people want us to believe that the economy is distressed but for them, it is all about grabbing everything from the public coffers. The simple meaning of their shamelessness is: while they are relaxing their belts, poor Nigerians should tighten theirs! As this piece is being written, Leadership newspaper of 7th November, 2023 reports that the Federal Government has begun to automatically deduct 40% from federal universities’ internally generated funds when these institutions’ academic departments are finding it difficult to buyordinary printing papers! Is Nigeria not unique? It is where most lecturers/researchers in public universities improve on their cognitive wherewithal, conduct researches and publish their outcomes, using their poor salaries! Soon, (if it is not already happening), professors will have to bring chairs/tables, from wherever, to their decrepitoffices in a manner similar to certain occurrences during academic programmes’ accreditation exercises when humans and equipments are “borrowed” for display!

If the last statement sounds unbelievable, hear this preposterousness: we know of public universities where lecturers have to either pay for, or personally do, the cleaning of their offices that are really not offices! The foregoing should be expected from a captured state! Surely, we are not unaware of some self-inflicted funding challenges in these institutions leading to gradually normalised anomalies. It still seems that Nigerians – especially in Nigeria – do not appreciate theproblem they are in with the kind of leadership cadre they have knowingly or unknowingly allowed to hold them to ransom all these years! The followers may be part of the problem but, as we always say, leadership is the problem! This crisis is confronted with plausiblesolutions when a society is able to get it right recruiting quality leadership. The unfortunate reality is that the strategies for enslaving many Nigerians have not changed. The propaganda has also not significantly changed – year in, year out. In collaboration with some myopic silly head followers who blindly and slavishly defend the indefensible, Nigerians are scammed by these misleaders. They insult the collective intelligence of the discerning with ridiculous visuals and narratives. Honestly, we do not, and will not, hate those dunderheads because they are in bondage! They need help! We will not be tired ofreferring to senselessness, in the past, with the hope that this will help in waking Nigerians up, going forward. For instance, we were insulted by Harlequin characters with annoying theatrics such as the Central Bank of Nigeria/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria paddy pyramids,in Abuja, in January, 2022! There are others! This is just an example! Yes, a country should make serious efforts toward being self-sufficient in locally-produced food for its inhabitants and possibly for export.This is a way to go.

Nonetheless, what is being questioned here is the rationale behind the showmanship of erecting a pyramid of rice paddy that was not intended for bringing down the price of the final commodity in the market! Or how much is a 50kg bag of “local” rice in the market today? So, for 8years, Nigerians were just being fooled around by unserious people in government! We must quickly add, here, that this ‘skill’ of such theatrical presentations is not unique to the immediate past central administration! It has always been with their predecessors– at all levels! It was inherited and must be bequeathed to their successors! This might be – in politicians’ understanding – that these theatrical presentations are what members of the public like seeing! Nigerians that are not inflicted by collective amnesia will, definitely, not wait for long to hear same repackaged old stories! We have asked severally: when will ordinary Nigerians stop being taken for a ride by these misleading crooks? Can we safely say that: unfortunately, for these politicians, the public is increasingly and smartly being aware of these tricks? We may not be able to give straight answers to the last two questions, for now! By the way, did Nigerians keep a close watch on the blindingly obvious barefaced display of brigandage and criminalities in the recent off-season 2023 gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states? These collaborating criminals have earlier tested the waters in February, 2023. Consequently, their “success” emboldened them to do more; outmanoeuvring themselves through violence and rigging. It is clear that 2027 general elections may be worse and Nigerians will be the losers.

Andrew A. Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.