BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON
Nigeria: Our oyel money, dollar, naira, and follies of the heart
The owner of the body does not say that he is in no pain, while we insist on commiserating with him for his sleeplessness and his restlessness. (One does not commiserate with a person who does not admit his/her misfortune).
In Nigeria, it is not just about the more you look the less you see, the fact is that you rarely see much or see nothing. The system, if indeed we have any, seems to defy all odds and logical reasoning. When you expect it to falter, fall and fail, it takes a curve and strangely comes on strong on the rebound. The only question is for how long do we have to rely on auto-piloting the ship of governance.
In the last three months, I have followed the Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala, who also doubles as Coordinating Minister of the economy, whatever that really means, say first we are not broke, and afterwards, announce austere measures and only last week blame governors for a depleted reserve.
I have also like most Nigerians witnessed yet another devaluation of the Nigerian naira, not that it had so much value in recent times, while the effect is yet to hit home and the austere measure take its toll, I have watched quite a few Nigerian debate over some Jewish looking symbol and the removal of Aramaic from the Naira notes--Follies of the heart, nay tell me that whether a Jewish mark or Arabic would increase the value of a naira note.
I have also seen and watched as the United States have drastically through a well planned and thought out system, dumped us with our oyel (crude oil), while they executed their plans, we stood still and watched, only mouthing diversification.
Now we are talking of luxury tax, increased custom duties, the Federal Inland Revenue Service is on the overkill in states, locking up businesses, left, right, ontop, center and below in the typical Nigerian fire brigade approach.
We are taught in primary school math that one plus one would equal two, however in these climes it could equal three, four, seven, and ten or even be zero. Every concerted effort at getting it right meets with unexplainable capitulation
In a strange twist typical of Nigeria, while poverty ravishes the land, it does not add up, millionaires are created everyday out of the system, few by dint of hard work, others by sheer Nigerian mathematics, it just happens for them it never adds up, they are poor in the morning and for doing next to nothing are rich in the evening.
Just be at the right place at the right time, know the right person and he better be ready to act right there for you and you are made--Just a supply of PDP wrapper or the supply of brooms for the APC, you may even get a contract for borehole in a community that already has four non-functional boreholes.
A local axiom says a cripple does not block the road with his legs, literally meaning that a person with a handicap should not challenge those who are not handicapped, but in Nigeria, a few thousands challenge plenty millions, because it never adds up, the maladministration, unfocused governance, fraud and waste continues, for example as symbolized by the cooking stove for rural women fraud.
One treats a disease; one does not treat death, my admonition every week dwells on the importance on us having to attend to problems before they become unmanageable. It gets worse by the day, the crude oil prices are falling, can't we have more petroleum products refined at home, thus allowing for a drop in pump price which in turn would set about lower transport costs, lower food prices...and in that order.
Sadly we will not do that, we will keep on the hazardous walk of one step forward, two backwards, and endless motion without movement. I know it is a trap that the giant rat disdains that wrenches its testicles backwards. Dangers that one belittles are liable to cause great havoc.
Nigeria, be it himself, herself or itself, is a nation that thrives on breaking the rules, one of the major reasons for why we are at this point. We refuse to follow the set rules, the signs were there but we refuse to see it.
From a history of when the Naira outweighed the Dollar, the Naira donated to the Rand, and the Brazilian cruzero then was a debt currency, everything Chinese was inferior and India was known for its many gods, and cricket. Now we are miles apart, being deported and left to rot in jails in these places. From the point where just a Naira gave you plenty dollars to now a hundred dollar gives you plenty thousands, infact almost twenty thousand Naira.
From a history when most nations where VISA free, to a gradual decline where we beg, pray, fast and then if successful we add a thanksgiving for a VISA to Botswana.
The once upon a giant of Africa and big brother now begging to partner everyone for any project, electricity from Ghana to fuel from Niger, or Beans from Burkina Faso or what is it we wanted from Rwanda. Really our testicles have been wrenched backwards.
We killed everything that had an N--Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Railway, NITEL, Niger Dock, Nigerian Hospitals, Schools, Nigerian Police, a step at a time we sowed hate, theft, political violence and corruption, watered it and we are acting amused like we never saw it coming.
So mobile telephone is South African, the best hospitals are Indian, Egyptian, or German but not Nigerian.
Sadly now the dollar talks, Naira shivers, public officials loot in the dollar, and we citizenry spend Naira to cowardly defend them because of faith, creed, religion and ethnic cleavages. He/she is not a thief, if he/she comes from my own side of the wood or prays to my own 'god'.
Fact is that we are where we owe the dollar because intemperate dandyism lands a youth in a creditor's farm as a pawn. The oyel money go finish, and squandered resources will bring about destitution, except there is change, believing that by miracle of some sort there will be a turnaround is only a day dream, and for how long—only time will tell.