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December 21, 2012

Detroit or Nigeria?

Violent crime is rampant, corruption is out of control, street thugs (yobs, in Britain) are proliferating, money is wasted by an irresponsible government, academics are dismal, and much more.

Was this photo taken in Lagos, Nigeria? Or Detroit, Michigan?
Is this Detroit? Or Nigeria?

Answer: It's both. And, it's America's future.

Here's an op/ed from NigeriaWorld.com

The state of the nation's security has never been this terrible. Kidnapping is at an alarming rate, rifts, oil and pipeline sabotage, and armed robbery are all endemic and widespread. Boko Haram is killing and maiming and Goodluck Jonathan is asking for more funds for this and that from the national Assembly and spending money like it is going out of fashion. Billions of naira is expended on about ten presidential jets when the average Nigerian youth has no job, has no hope and less than 40 percent who took the last West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination passed. Transparency International ranked Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations in the whole world. The Nigerian nation is built on the mantra "me, myself, and I." Some even said it is more like the swan song "me first, me second, and then my family." I have been told that Goodluck Jonathan operates with the swan song. The rate of kidnapping is now a thing of concern for the powers that be so much so that no one leaves the house without security details, and some areas even of the national capital region have been declared no-go areas by those who rule us for the members of their family. Two prominent people have been abducted in the last one week; one was grabbed in Delta State and the other in Oyo State. Poverty is so huge that many will do anything to get by and to find food. Hunger, it appears, is driving people into doing very terrible things and into taking desperate steps to support themselves and their families. A young lady, the daughter of a retired general in the Nigerian Army was lured into a hotel in Lagos some months ago. The intention of the men who lured her was to get money from her and steal from her. Their action turned tragic and resulted in the death of the young lady.

In recent times so many notable people have been kidnapped; the child of a commissioner in Delta State, a former vice-chancellor of a university in the South-South, a judge, and several others have also suffered abduction by unknown and desperate people. Many who have suffered abduction have reported that most of their abductors speak good English, appear educated, told their victims it was the condition they found themselves that made them turn into kidnappers, and even apologized for putting their victims through harrowing experiences. No one will support criminal activities anywhere and no reason can be adduced to accept abduction as proper and sensible, but in a society where the man who stole a tuber of yam is handed a five-year jail term while a corrupt politician or government appointee who stole 100 million naira from the treasury is either not prosecuted and he is ready to make another kill, prosecuted and granted bail by a corrupt judge who has been bribed and the thief returns home to continue to enjoy his loot, or he has been offered a new appointment at the presidency and given a new opportunity to loot. The nation is degenerating at a rapid rate; and this since the coming of Goodluck Jonathan. He wants to spend billions of naira to build a new conference centre in Aso Rock to commemorate an event that is better left in the past where it rightfully belong. His wife is building a centre whose cost runs into billions of naira, a new residence is being built for his vice president for which more billions was recently requested from the National Assembly, even his permanent secretary in charge of food at Aso Rock went to the National Assembly the other day to defence the one billion naira food budget. The chop-and-quench permanent secretary said one billion naira is just not enough for food and related expenses in Aso Rock! One thing the man did not ask himself was why anyone has the right to eat, drink and be merry from the common purse of the Nigerian people. Are these people not paid salaries, allowances, free accommodation, and offered endless perks of office? When people have no morals and are so neck-deep in corrupt practices they do not think rationally anymore and no longer have any conscience to tick them awake to the things they are doing wrong. Corruption has become so endemic under Jonathan's leadership that he can no longer tell the difference between what belongs to him and what belongs to the Nigerian people! His dealings with the likes of Chief Etete, Otedola, Oronto Dauglas, who is fronting for Goodluck Jonathan and is involved in all kinds of business deals on behalf of Mr. Jonathan, and of course, oil subsidy merchants, and the abysmal management of the nation's oil resources, allocation of oil blocks and open support for highly corrupt ministers in his government substantiate this view.

Since Boko Haram took over substantial region of the North, Jonathan has not visited that part; he has conceded that region to Boko Haram and he has taken just one action to resolve the problem: address it in interviews and news releases. He is not in charge of that section of the country and he does not pretend to be, hence his careful avoidance of the area. We have been told by those who should know in the North that Boko Haram is not about to disappear and the anarchy, maiming, killing, and bombing of churches, government offices, banks, military barracks and police stations are not about to end anytime soon. The travel advisory of the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada - to their citizens who may want to travel to Nigeria - is that chaos, anarchy and confusion reign supreme in Nigeria. The summary of the advisory is that their nationals should avoid travelling to Nigeria at best and when they do, they should avoid the North, the Niger Delta and some other parts of Nigeria. United States and Canadian citizens are even told never to travel on Nigerian inter-city roads, considered death traps, unsafe, dotted with criminals and fake policemen. Lagos-Ibadan and Sagamu-Ore-Benin Road were mentioned and considered highly dangerous and unsafe.

The focus of the government in the last three years has been on mundane things that very well exclude the well being of the Nigerian people. More than fifty percent of national revenue has gone into paying heavy salaries to the people at the presidency, the National Assembly, foreign and international travels and no effort is being taken to support job creation, the creation of wealth, health, education, and welfare. The Niger Delta is at the centre of the unrest that has engulfed the nation because there is a harvest of poverty and hardship in that region than anywhere else, and the most profligate of politicians come from there. The militants in the Niger Delta will remain a source of problem and obstacle to peace and stability in the region for as long as these people have no access to employment opportunities and yet watch as their leaders live lives of opulence and splendour, even building multimillion naira worth mansions that are loaded with pillars. Jonathan's minister of the Niger Delta Godsday Orubebe has denied ownership of a mansion located at Minister's Hill in the Mabushi Area of Abuja even as allegations of fraudulent malpractices in the award of contracts trail him, including the contract for the channelization of the Odoubou-Bololou creek in Brutu Local Government, which was put at 1.2 billion and the reclamation cum shoreline protection contract at Ogboba-Gbene along with the channelization of Foupolo-Bunu Ndoro creek at over 2 billion naira each. Dirty deals and frauds at the ministry of the Niger Delta have been put at over 29 billion and there is no end is sight. The looting of the national treasury is going on and around the people, who are themselves shut out of the cash flow and left with little or nothing. There is a shortage of hope among the people at the moment, and the middle class no longer exist. Hundreds of thousands of university graduates are jobless and it was no surprise that many of them with postgraduate degrees applied to be drivers at Dangote. Many who have lost patience and are tired of waiting will likely kidnap, rob and steal.

Hoodlums are multiplying daily. The policies of this administration and several before it have ensured that there will be little or no opportunities for all youths, the educated and troubled youths. There is even a dearth of opportunities for those who attended colleges and earned degrees from our universities and polytechnics. The prospect of finding a job, creating self-employment, settling down, building a life, and contributing meaningfully to the nation is almost a mirage for these young people. Those of them who did not go to school (or dropped out) and have become a burden on their parents and communities often scuff at the educated ones who are jobless despite earning one, two or even three degrees. They rely on friends and family for everything from accommodation to feeding and pocket money. The desperate ones among them, even the unemployed graduates, will do anything to get by. Some are now very desperate and have lost patience with the society; they are frustrated and angry. They see all hopes and prospects vanish and watch as months turn into years and everything remains the same. They see around them and read in the newspapers about billions of naira being spent, being stolen, being unaccounted for, being shared by levels of government with nothing to show for it. They read newspaper stories about reckless acts of profligacy and plunder and they wonder why nothing is being done to solve youth unemployment and poverty.

The young graduates and the school drop outs see new mansions and houses springing up and being built within a few months by political office holders and their sidekicks, they see sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other exotic cars on the road and they read about the billions Jonathan is allocating to feeding, new conference centre at Aso Rock, extension of Aso Rock and extension of the car park at Aso Rock, overseas travel, presidential jets, the several billions of naira in extra budget Jonathan is asking for from the National Assembly, and billions more for assorted programs and projects that have no direct bearing on their own lives, and they begin to understand that their future is being mortgaged to enable the likes of Goodluck Jonathan and his sidekicks, the legislooters at the National Assembly, the corrupt state governors, the state assembly legislooters, local government council chairmen and their councillors, and other parasites live well and beyond their means. The purses of the nation and the states have become the piggy banks of a cabal of political office holders and conniving and corrupt senior civil servants. Sadly, there is little or no difference between the political party of Goodluck Jonathan (PDP) and the political party of Bola Tinubu (ACN). They are all very greedy and hugely corrupt; collecting properties all over the place is their policy of choice and the choice areas of the state and nation is their place of residence and abode. It becomes clear to them that tomorrow is bleak and they may have to find new and novel ways to get what they deserve, which is why some of them are resorting to self-help to get themselves out of unemployment and poverty. They too wish to drive a car, live in a good house, own a BlackBerry Smartphone, and they want to take control of their own lives, which is not possible except they have a job and opportunities are available to them.

Someone told me the other day that it was good that those who were kidnapped are directly connected to the bad leadership and inaction the nation has suffered and is still suffering at the moment; the lack of respite for self-appointed and selected leaders who steal and loot is considered a payback of sort and a wake-up call. No one is likely to feel sorry for a thief and looter if he is kidnapped by some of his victims. How many Nigerians mourned with the Abachas when the looter and dictator Sani Abacha died? In actual fact most Nigerians celebrated and rejoiced that the Lord has helped them to rid the nation of a major problem and monster. Kidnapping may be a rough way to fight back, but there is no way looters will find rest at night (or even at daytime these days) after eating, grabbing and looting everything meant for the whole nation. A guy told me he no longer takes out his posh SUV since the last oil subsidy demonstration on the streets of Lagos. He said the vehicle has been covered up in his compound. He added that he just narrowly escaped the rash and physical intimidation of hoodlums and that some of his friends were not so lucky that January. It was the response of the masses to the insensitivity of a corrupt few who are looting the oil subsidy funds with the connivance of those in power and yet wanted the masses to pay more for petroleum products that are sparsely available yet produced in the land in abundance. The turmoil in Nigeria will persist, even become exacerbated, if the current nonchalance, greed, looting, indifference and recklessness of government persist. The people will fight back and use any and every means possible to find ways to meet their personal needs in the very same way the people in power are using every opportunity that political power has availed them to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. It is often in the best interest of the people in power to ensure that the poor are provided for and have opportunities to fulfil their small, basic needs. In a nation where most cannot afford a decent meal a day a few hundreds are living it up and doing so with the best vehicles money can by, the best houses with limitless pillars and even adding private jets to their endless fleet of SUVs and exotic cars. The poverty in Nigeria is man-made and the consequence of it is a restless majority who have nothing to lose if all hell is let loose.


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