Wednesday, 14 December 2016

NIGERIA 56TH FREEDOM FÊTE - an article by Professor Femi Ajayi

Read his piece below....

Nigeria celebrated its 56th Independence birthday, October 1, 2016, free of viable shackles from the British Colonial Administration, with the FREEDOM not to be accountable and being opaque in its governance, steal, alter Justice to the convenience of the almighty tin-god JUDGES, making laws to favor fewer privileged individuals, FREEDOM to expand their empires with the country's resources, FREEDOM to be above the law of the land, where Judges will be arrested and a section of the clown in the community would raise hell not to go the way that Ghana cleansed the Judiciary where over 30 judges were arrested and dismissed for corruption; opposite what goes on in Nigeria where a telephone thief would go to jail while the Judges would turn the other way for the 'barons' of stealing club who stole billions of Naira from the public treasury.
The FREEDOM of believing cheaters sugar-coated tongues, to the invisible homemade shackles of progress, for the blinded followership, with the FREEDOM from being accountable and transparent in disbursing Nigerian resources to their fellow national treasury looters and making their personal 'Treasuries' fatter than the country's treasury.

Unfortunately, it has been the FREEDOM to make underprivileged suffer; FREEDOM in making fresh College graduates go through painful experiences and pay heavily to get jobs, irrespective of their parents' investments; while services to the citizens are at standstill, spreading immorality in the society. It has been FREEDOM to contest for an office four times (12 years) without any delineated blueprint to address the challenges and the ills of the society, except to be the 'King' displaying the family beauties at the assembly of world leaders.

What a disgraceful outing of most Nigerian Leaders in the FREEDOM they tagged to be the CHANGE of being a Nigerian First, referring to my over ten years article "…: ''I AM NIGERIA, THE CHANGES BEGIN WITH ME'' …" published on www.nigeriaworld.com, Tuesday, May 2, 2006.

Among other things mentioned in that article included "…Changes have to begin with every Nigerian alive today…Other nationals took advantage of what Nigerians called themselves and came out with so much damaging theories about Nigeria. Would you blame anyone for the stigma on Nigeria and Nigerians by non-Nigerians? …Is it not time Nigerians start rethinking their existence in this world, changing their mindset, realizing that no other nationals would do that for Nigeria. Whatever names the parents give their children is what the rest of the world would call them. Continuously labeling Nigerians with some indelible markers hurt Nigerians and their second generations. What is Nigeria? "I am Nigeria, and the changes begin with me".

The unfortunate unemployment rate increases as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in September 2016 that the country's unemployment rate has risen from 12.1% in the first quarter of 2016 to 13.3% as at the end of the second quarter. NBS also reported that in the second quarter of 2016, the number of unemployed in the labor force increased by 1,158,700 persons, resulting in an increase in the national unemployment rate to 13.3% from 12.1% in the first quarter 2016, 10.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 from 9.9% in the third quarter 2015 and from 8.2% in the second quarter of 2015.

Consistently, the number of underemployed in the labor force (those working but doing menial jobs, graduates hired by the Chinese, not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in full time work and merely working for few hours) increased by 392,390 or 2.61%, resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 19.3 % (15.4million persons) in the second quarter of 2016 from 19.1% (15,02 million persons) in the first quarter of 2016, 18.7% (14.42 million persons) in the fourth quarter of 2015, from 17.4% (13.2 million persons) in the third quarter of 2015 and 18.3% (13.5 million persons) in the second quarter of 2015.

According to the NBS report, in the second quarter of 2016, the labor force population (those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 79.9 million from 78.5 million in the first quarter of 2016, representing an increase of 1.78% in the labor force during the quarter. This means 1.39 million persons from the economically active population entered the labor force that is individuals that were able, willing and actively looking for work.

Believing that recession would not last as sugar-coated tongue of the 56th anniversary speech, whereas there is no remarkable good infrastructure on the ground to end the recession soonest; the simplest water supply is not available, the power to drive investment is not steady, relying solely on the rainy season to generate power supply at the expense of the natural solar system, windy, coal for power, relying on the oil supply that some countries are quickly finding alternatives.

The inability of the current administration to bring out a 12-year preparation blue print to speed the exit from the recession, the mind-set of the operators and even the lawmakers have not changed from the parochial ways of accessing the natural resources.

Unfortunately the mentally lazy Governors at the State levels, waiting for manners to fall from the heavenly Federal Government castle as to what they could generate within the states to meet up the States need, to the 'Yes Men' mentally derailed Local Government Chairs, is what we call FREEDOM from the accountable and transparent governance of dishonorable leaders of the Nigerian Governments.
The FREEDOM of building the empire for the highly corrupt Nigerians ought to be dismantled before other termites construct a strong mound in Nigeria. That termite house, built for years, through many inept administrations, would have to be approached with a modern caterpillar, with sturdy bellicose chemicals, from either Germany or USA; however, not from already polluted China, to eventually reduce the 'termite' power. Where is Nigeria hope if and when the hopeful spots become hopeless?

The recession has already triggered a ripple effect in the open market, with prices going from about 44% to 300%. It has been FREEDOM to place Nigerians on viciousness of recession without the government finding solution to it, except to continue sugar-coating requesting Nigerians to endure with the government in their empty bellies. Even with those who pay salaries regularly, the inflation has chopped off their other responsibilities. Talk less of traveling abroad that has forced some Airlines to cancel flights to Nigeria or reduce the number of days they fly into the country, or increase the flight costs to some unavoidable prizes for most and has to go so many routes to get to their destinations.

Nigeria is experiencing the worst economic recession in 29 years, whereas the government is fighting to make N1.00 equals $1.00, the naira has slipped to N480.00 with the target of N500.00 soon.

Unfortunately Nigerians who leave outside the country should stop jubilating for the Naira strength to keep on falling. They should realize that the cost of materials and other items in Nigeria increase with the rise in foreign currency exchange.

A gallon of vegetable oil sold for N2,500.0 in January 2016 is now (October 2016) N6,500.00; a bag of rice has risen from N10,000.00 to N30,000.00; while a basket of tomato of N8,000.00 has become N35,000.00. Investigations revealed that operators under the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) has risen from N1, 600.00 to N2, 300.00 depending on the sales location. However, in some areas, prices have shot up to N2, 350.00 or higher.

According to some words of wisdom, 20 liters of fuel in your car and 10 liters for your generator at N145.00 for 30 days is N130, 500.00 PHCN Bill, food, pampas for babies, children school fees, house rents and other miscellaneous excluded. While the minimum wage is N18, 000.00 and you say you are fighting corruption. Unfortunately, the corruption that would soon invade Nigeria is still doing press up exercise in Afghanistan, Baba Iyabo would say.

National Bureau of Statistics in August 2016 report showed that the latest Consumer Price Index, CPI, measuring inflation rate, shows that inflation for the month of July 2016 at 17.1 per cent, climbed to its highest point since 2005, while representing 0.6 percentage point above the 16.5 per cent recorded in June 2016. In other words the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased to 17.1 per cent in July from 16.5 per cent in June; The Inflation is at 11-yr high. It also reports of the lowest capital inflow ever, in the country blessed with both natural and human resources. NBS said that total value of capital imported into Nigeria in second quarter of 20116 was estimated to be $647.1 million, which represents a fall of 8.98 per cent relative to first quarter of 2016, and a fall of 75.73 per cent relative to second quarter in 2015.

Harry Truman once stated that "You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook". Unlike in Nigeria, most Nigerian politicians go into politics to get rich. Instead of using the resources for the progress of each community, it is the other way round, they buy exotic cars, dress like Chief of termites, export their wealth across Nigerian border, feeding their 5-month old pregnancies for life.

Without mincing words, disappointment is written on the faces of most Nigerians about an average Nigerian politician, lack of ethical standard to approach their responsibilities for objectively addressing the plights of an average Nigerian. Ironically the House of Representatives suspended (September 2016) one of its members who blew the whistle on their dirty tricks in siphoning Nigerian resources with their dishonorable practices, which could not be different from any law making body in Nigeria. Inappropriately, the National Assembly and Legislative process in Nigeria, might had been turned into a fad, where matters at the Chambers, ethical or unethical should be kept away from the public. Unfortunately, we have seen the sharing of the scarce resources which ought to improve the life of an average Nigerian.

Is that type of FREEDOM that should be celebrated in the country where nothing works?

Ending the recession, as part of sacrifices, "I am Nigeria, the Changes Start with me"; the Legislators' salaries drawn from Nigeria resources are too high with nothing to write home about. The National Assembly has added a new vocabulary to its political lexicon, Budget Paddling, so that they could continue to enrich themselves in the midst of poor road network, with roadside mechanics capitalizing on the desperate motorists to reach their destinations.

For instance, in addition to the Budget Paddling, a Senator is allegedly, as they keep their wages away from the public, earns N36, 000,000.00 monthly. Cutting that salary into half will employ 200 Nigerians who will earn N90, 000.00 per month, With the 109 Senators milking the resources will employ 21,800 employees. Possibly reducing the kidnapping business and some other social ills in Nigeria. Looking at the House of Representatives earning at N25,000,000.00 a month; by reducing the salary by half will employ 135 unemployed Nigerians, earning N92,500.00 per month. 135 employed Nigerians, multiply by 360 Dis-Honorable will absorb 48,600 employees. With this action 70,400 Nigerians families would be helped out from this economic recession, by cutting to half the National Assembly wages. Where does change starts?

According to the NBS report, in the second quarter of 2016, the labor force population (those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 79.9 million from 78.5 million in the first quarter of 2016, representing an increase of 1.78% in the labor force during the quarter. This means 1.39 million persons from the economically active population entered the labor force that is individuals that were able, willing and actively looking for work.

What could have informed Nigerian Senators to think of selling historical Nigerian assets as a measure to get the country out of recession? Is that how Nigerian leaders should celebrate its 56th birthday by selling off some national treasuries?

It is very disappointing the ways and manners Nigerian leaders approach Nigeria matters in making life easier for Nigerians.

The 'Yes Men' chorus of the Senate could be having second thought of selling off the National Assets as the only way out of Nigeria economic recession. Hopefully their mortgaged brain could be reversed to the applied normal common sense. Assets have been seized from the looters, cash has skyrocketed into a high level in the market, Abacha loot recovery are still in the deep freezer, and thinking of financing the infrastructure through the sale of the Country's historical structures.

Possibly the problem has been with the followers, the Nigerians, believing in the Nigeria style of politics with their mental aptitude of redistributing Nigeria resources through bags of millets, rice, gallons of vegetable oil, or N2,000.00 for a pot of soup for one time family consumption of mental debauchery, and some other items to mortgage the mentality of the followers, while citizens REFUSED to put on their thinking caps to question the sources of the sudden wealth garage touts turned politicians.

The FREEDOM not to pay wages on time, not even enough, unethically delayed, and would definitely encourage the employees to engage in some illegal practices to survive. How can we conscientiously advise those in the public sector, who have not been paid for months, to sincerely and honestly do their jobs, by living up to its expectations, in an empty stomach.

Employees have families to cater for within this unpleasant situation, while no Company or Government can afford to increase wages, struggling to maintain their current employees. Some have to cut wages, allowances and some laid off some employees, adding fuel to the burning fire of hardship. Where is the happiness of those praying for Naira to keep on falling? Unfortunately the half-baked Government is not transparently displaying its shrewdness to improve the lots of Nigerians.

What a FREEDOM!

Possibly the administration is exposing the rot in the government through the recovery of the lootings from some appointed public officials, with none from the Legislators, while the Judiciary is coming up, equally beneficiary to the Executive. Ironically, Nigeria runs a corrupt system as there is faint saint among the three arms of the government. In other words the foundation of the present structure is corruption. Everyone is guilty of corruption in one form or the other. In all ramifications, on corruption, a fox could not claim innocence in the midst of chicken.

Adhering truly to the rule of law, some Judges are on corruption net now (October 2016) in a country where one can do anything and easily get away with some committed deadly atrocities provided YOU press the right button.

Could that be true that these amounts discovered from the raided and arrested Judges, about N93, 558,000.00; $530,087.00, £25,970.00 and €5,680.00? Afe Babalola, SAN, would question the arrest of the sitting Judges and taken to the Magistrate Court, Justice Mahmud Mohammed would claim that the arrest was unconstitutional, NBA atrociously condemned and threatened to declare a state of emergency, consequently other Nigerians could be arrested, not the unethical Judges, like George Orwell 'Animal Farm', that all animals are equal and some are more equal than the others, as if the tainted Judges are above the law of the land. Unfortunately, the 1999 Constitution, as amended, was the outcome of the Lawyers work, the Legislature to amend it could not make the Constitution to read "WE THE PEOPLE"?

A year plus into the new administration, out of the 4-year mandate, with the FREEDOM has yet to produce what Nigerians are yearning for, the good road network to link Nigerians up economically, socially and quantitatively, has not been revealed.

Most Nigerians agree that Nigeria needs a leader who is purposeful, achievement-motivated, intellectually and morally sound; a leader who, in the context of a multilingual nation like Nigeria, is able to put the nation above sectional interests. He must be a man of vision, God-fearing, who must be accepted across religious and regional lines, selfless, unbiased, and with a great sense of direction, and make the FREEDOM worth attaining.

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