“Hello bros”,that’d be one of my sisters who live abroad on the phone yesterday. I wait. “What’s happening”? She asks. “It’s Independence Day”, I reply drily.
“Independence from what”? She asks and as I try to laugh by way of an answer, the connection breaks as it often does in Nigeria because the service providers can’t really provide service.
“This is the worst independence Day ever in Nigeria’s history” ,declares Rick in Abuja, via phone. “Why are you not at the parade ground with your president”? I ask. “What kind of “ye-ye” parade”? “Do you know how much a bag of Rice costs “? And before I could connect Rice with parades : “Children are resuming the school tomorrow after the “ye-ye” public holidays”. “What’s wrong with resuming school”? Ricks doesn’t answer. Must be wondering if I live on Mars. After a while though, the answer comes:”School fees “. The latter word comes out as feeesss just to be very clear.
First, my sister’s question: “Independence from what”?
Mohammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, gave a recorded message in which he claimed that the nation is now safe. Those who wrote the script, guarded by police and soldiers can’t go from Abuja to Kaduna by road. They will assuredly be kidnapped and or killed. Does Mr Buhari know this? Of course he does but the lie must still be told.
Below is a collage of deaths across Nigeria in one week; this writer’s way of reminding the president that his speech is light years from reality. “Good Governance and Economic Development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram” –Mohammadu Buhari .
AND THE TRUTH.
September 21: Cultists killed four in Ikorodu, Lagos.
September 21: Gunmen killed two in Obio/Akpor, Rivers.
September 21: Gunmen kidnapped seven in Chikun, Kaduna
September 22: Suspected herdsmen killed two in Numan, Adamawa; one attacker was also killed.
September 22: Herdsmen kidnapped fourteen in Obokun, Osun.
September 22: The Nigerian Air Force killed the Boko Haram “occupants” (estimated at ten) of a camp in Damboa, Borno.
September 22–23: A cult clash resulted in seven deaths in Etsako West, Edo.
September 23: Gunmen kidnapped six in Chikun, Kaduna.
September 23: Herdsmen killed three in Bassa, Plateau.
September 24: Two were killed during a clash between customs officers and smugglers in Jibia, Katsina.
September 24: Police killed two kidnappers in Alkaleri, Bauchi
. September 24: Kidnappers killed one and abducted fourteen in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna.
September 24: Kidnappers killed eight in Kogi, Kogi
. September 25: Boko Haram killed fourteen Nigerian soldiers in Gubio, Borno.
September 25: The Nigerian Air Force killed “many” (estimated at twenty) Boko Haram militants in Ngala, Borno
. September 26: Boko Haram killed seven and kidnapped ten in Biu, Borno
. September 26: Boko Haram killed two in Mafa, Borno.
September 26: Gunmen killed seven vigilantes and one policeman in Rafi, Niger.
September 27: Two National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) officers were kidnapped in Igueben, Edo.
In September, “bandits” came to Katsina, Mr Buhari’s state, and just move more than 30 girls and sold them into slavery in Burkina Faso. About 8 local governments are under occupation by ” bandits”.
Oh, as I don’t immediately answer my sister, she asks ” Bros, are you ok”? Yes, I was ok. But you never know.
The only country that produces enough rice to feed its population is the United States. China with all its rice must also buy from Thailand and Vietnam. It’s nothing to do with pride, it has everything to do with knowing yourself and quality of life. Mr Buhari, for some arcane reason, has closed the borders that are mainly in the South. His ostensible reason is to prevent rice from being smuggled into Nigeria. Now ,does Nigeria grow enough rice? Of course not. The farmers are daily under attack from Fulani herdsmen, policemen who harass them on the road ,etc. Before the closure, the Central bank of Nigeria stopped forex sales to business people who deal in food on the orders of Mr Buhari .All kinds of food. For fish and poultry, well you need serious plans.
Freedom of speech, etc.When Mr Buhari lied that he was a “reformed democrat” in 2014 even without ever being any kind of democrat, Nigerians fell for it. Mr Buhari’s former co-protester, Sowore, is now facing a battery of charges, cyber-stalking ” among them. They also say the blogger intends to overthrow his former friend with help from overseas.
Today, the entire media is in coma as journalists are routinely hounded and put in jail.For your health, sing Mr Buhari’s praises. The national assembly is a useless debating society and the judges dare not use the constitution. Policemen spy on one another. I hear you get arrested for insulting the president. All social media platforms are monitored. Could this be true? Sure.
Even Mr Buhari warned the nation Teusday to be “law abiding” like his pupils. If he had his way, the social media will only be available to his party people. For propaganda purposes of course. Independence from what? Even the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, has had his powers clipped by a famed cabal that acts as Mr Buhari’s shadow. The rumour is that his office has been relocated outside the presidential Vila. Is that possible? Yes. Did it happen? Anything is possible in Nigeria. Remember snakes swallowing money?
Speaking of freedom, Nasir El Rufai, one of nature’s most truculent people ,told international elections observers that they will go back “in body bags” if they interfered with how the APC intended to arrange the elections. And because violence begets violence, the states around Mr Rufai must now pay “bandits” and negotiate the frequency of their attacks for they can’t be stopped. It is that bad.
Purpose and Objectives. In Mr Buhari’s speech, he said something about unity, purpose ,etc. But the truth is this. Nigeria doesn’t have a national purpose. It gropes from one hit- and mostly miss idea after another. Its citizens used to have purposes . But now, grown adults just walk the streets and talk to themselves, mostly about lack of food and unpaid school fees.
It’s no longer news that the Lagos Lagoon, Gwaripam lake and Mr Buhari’s Lake Chad,etc, house the corpses of those who choose to die than to live under Mr Buhari’s conditions.
And so, in place of a purpose, you have a drift. Instead of an agenda, a plan of action, you have chaos. Even anarchy in the North.
By the way, I have been invited to a wedding tomorrow, Thursday. Why not a weekend? you would ask. Well, on a week day, uninvited guests won’t eat your rice. Kidnappers who lurk event centres are also less likely to strike on week days. As Nigeria is under attacks, one must be careful.
And why did Ricks refers to Nigeria’s 59th anniversary as “ye-ye” independence? Well, even the government didn’t believe in itself. It knows that its citizens have become dismissive of the government, hoping that, maybe, just maybe, Atiku Abubakar will win at the tribunal.
As for my sister’s question? Independence from what? Therein lies the problem because all Nigeria can show for 59 years of a troubled existence is an excruciatingly painful set of chains. It is not free but stuck in the middle of Nowhereland with only hopelessness in the horizon. And I think that my sister knows that. Independence from what?