When I saw a headline for a news story with the above words on BBC News, I just had to click it.
Reading the article however, I cannot but agree with it's content. When my good friend Gbenga Sesan insinuated that to solve the problems of Nigerians wanting to travel out of the country, all you had to do was provide broadband Internet, I was quick to disagree. My thoughts were simple, what was the point of giving acess to the Internet when one of the basics of life, electric power, is not widely available? There was some debate on his blog post, but I think the point was made.
While I was in the US, I was asked about life in Nigeria. When I mentioned that power cuts were normal, they all seemed surprised. I had to explain to them how you could be watching Nigeria at the World Cup, and then............darkness, TV off....and that's it. "Can't you sue them?". yeah right.
Everyday, businesses in Nigeria are dying or struggling to survive because of the incessant power cuts. And what happens when power is restored? "Up NEPA!!" we all cry (or is it up PHCN now?), as if they've done something extraordinary !! I remember once, we had our transformer blow up, and we didn't have power for MONTHS. The fridge became a cupboard, ironing clothes meant a trip to my mum's clinic, sleeping in the extreme heat was unbearable. My dad had to go out and spend a substantial amount of money on a generator, and even more money on the diesel to power it. When you go into the hospital for an operation, apart from buying several instruments, you have to provide a generator to power all the equipment, and fuel it up. A friend of mine went under the knife, and as soon as they closed him up, the generator we rented blew up. Such is life in Africa's most populus country. It's sad that some of the richest people in Nigeria today either sell generators, or supply diesel.
Right now, we have politicians jumping up and down ahead of the April Elections, promising to eradicate poverty, solve all our problems and make Nigeria a better place.
The same politicians that have ruined our health care systems, power systems, education, you name it, they've wrecked it. All their children study abroad, because the universities back home aren't good enough. And recently, the leading contender for the presidency flew to Germany for a treatment after fainting from exhaustion, which quite frankly shows what he thinks of Nigeria's hospitals. Not to be outdone, Atiku Abubukar, the Vice President (who has picked a fight with his boss and gone and pitched his tent with the opposition AC political party) fell off his treadmill in his official residence, and was quickly flown to London for treatment. Pictures of him on cructhes on his return were on the cover of every major newspaper.
So if our leaders are going abroad for minor bumps and scratches, what is the common man, who can hardly afford to feed his family, to do when he falls seriously ill?
Crumbling Nigeria? Some might say no. But I'd like to ask you to look at the situation objectively, and see if this is not true.
In closing, I think the quote from the business man featured in the BBC article sums it all up:
"Sometimes I think the only thing to do is go into politics myself: at least there would be a chance of making some money."
God help our nation.