21.3.07

Crumbling Nigeria ???

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.

7 comments:

  1. I apologise in advance for a lengthy comment...
    Ah politics ain't it just one big messed up pile of garbage..Hey bro..I must say I know the feeling of power cuts..though nothing on the level of what you are talking about..we still have power cuts back home everyday for half an hour or sometimes 2 hours at night..but at-least usually it does come back..so cant complain I suppose.But I must agree the businessman said it right- the only way you can change things is do it yourself..hell at-least you can get in on the corruption..:-) But seriously in India too for all the changes that are being made in big cities and towns, the poor are being left further behind...ever increasing gap between rich and the poor and corruption continues....

    Here's a thought for you bro..something that my mom still says and I think it makes a lot of sense...why if you train doctors, engineers, teachers ,fire-fighters and all other people who provide services is there no system whereby a politician can be trained to perform his duties??Ofcourse its a strength that anyone can run for elections- I fully endorse the free speech and freedom of choice but surely if a person has to run a country -should he atleast he qualified to do so??

    Quite a few of the politicians back home in my state have very basic education-I wouldnt want to judge anyone on that but if we give jobs and live in a competitive world surely politics shouldn't be any different..after all we are talking about taking decisions that affect everyone here...
    I just hope that things get better for us both bro..well we can only hope!

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  2. I think I may have to agree with you Boso, the evidence does point to Nigeria crumbling. Even MrO is getting frustrated with having no power. After stupidly long working days he comes home to a boiling home and no hot food. Its all I can do some days to calm him down on the phone so he won't give up and come back to England and an easier life. I'm hoping another pair of hands, my hands, may help a little over the next few weeks but its a very difficult life over there. Electricity these days is quite fundamental.

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  3. sppadic: That is a brilliant idea !! Compulsory training for all politicians, I never thought of that! It's funny, even in Nigeria, if the main contender wins the election (Umaru Ya'ardua), he will be the first president of Nigeria to have a degree since 1966 (If you don't count the MONTHS Shonekan was in charge)

    Katharine: It's not easy. I have only just realised how much I take constant power for granted.

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  4. Oh my goodness, was your friend okay?! The situation sound awful. Pah, politicians! *spits*

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  5. Sorry to hear about it, Boso, what happens to all the oil revenue? Surely there must be money in the country?

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  6. Pete, sadly, the oil revenue has gone into the pockets of our leaders for decades.

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  7. Nigeria and the rest of Africa will NEVER make any progress until we find a way to move beyond the culture of kleptocracy.

    To tackle the problems of healthcare, education, housing etc substantial and sustained investment will be required. While things are changing for the better, a large proportion of the money will still end up in anonymous bank accounts in Zürich.

    The way I see it anyone proved to have helped themselves to public money should be sent to northern Nigeria to be tried under Sharia law where the punishment for theft is to cut of a hand! A deterrent if ever I saw one!!!

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