By Biodun Durojaiye and Tunde Odediran
On Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day last year, Rescue Nigeria was officially announced. As part of our launching, we issued a press statement entitled, “It is time to battle the mindsets and forces keeping us down.”
In our initial statement, we described Nigeria the way we saw it then, what we believe the problems were, why the movement was formed, what we hope to achieve and our dreams for Nigeria.
Our movement was quite aware that except for a major intervention, things could get worse – and they have. While we are still hopeful, our heart is broken that Nigeria has backslidden much further within the last year.
At launch, we stated: “Nigeria is a ship lost at sea, unable to deliver the goods at the port, nor return to its origin. The nation in display in 2020 is a bad representation of its model, failing to live up to the great promise as the largest concentration of the black race, talent and resources in the world.
“While Nigeria cannot be classified outright as a failed state, definitely a large chunk of its territory has already acquired this status.
“And this failure, a state of near hopelessness, is rapidly spreading to all other component parts of the country.
“After 60 years of self-rule, the average Nigerian is less prosperous, less healthy, less educated, has a shorter life expectancy than at Independence in 1960 and falls far short on the Human Development Index. Not surprisingly, our country has now been designated to being the poverty capital of the world.”
The situation has become dire in the last one year. Our people have been suffering.
Inflation is now galloping. The Naira has been devalued, with the exchange rate exceeding N580 against the US Dollar, from about N400. As costs go up nearly daily, Nigerians are poorer and 35% of the population are jobless. A recent report by the Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economy, Dr Doyin Salami, projects that the unemployment rate will exceed 40% by the end of 2021.
Insecurity has spread to all parts of the federation. Kidnapping for ransom and banditry are now everybody’s risk. School children, the aged, royal fathers, military officers, and almost every category of citizens have become victims of kidnapping for ransom.
Bandits and other terrorists have become more emboldened, attacking villages, towns and even barracks, with little or no resistance and consequences. Even the nation’s symbol of military might, the Nigerian Defence Academy, was attacked by terrorists, to show their invincibility.
As we get closer to the state of anarchy, our leaders continue to show lack of competence or compassion. The President has more or less been sleeping on duty.
Even the near-revolution #EndSARS protests that broke out days after we launched has not been enough to wake our leaders up or make them change. They are settled in their ways.
Very worrisome is the President’s appetite for huge loans, despite his obvious incompetence, lack of capacity and complete lack of interest to monitor how the loans are being managed. This sad situation has arisen as a result of a pliant and politically-sedated federal legislature that approves anything and everything presented to it, no matter how ludicrous and damaging to those who elected them. The two branches have formed an “arrangee government.”
The result is a fresh pilling up of debts that could be a big burden for the younger and even yet-to-be born generations.
Just as we stated in our statement last year, the current class of political leaders have persisted in being “united in brotherhood to loot, kill, oppress and generally deny their own people the pursuit of happiness.”
Having lived under the rule of this class of political and military elite who are extremely corrupt and greedy to the point of being evil, the average Nigerian seems to see little justification to be a good citizen.
What is still prevalent, as we stated then, are ‘eazy money’ mentality, the celebration of sudden questionable wealth, fearless conversion of public assets by the elite, celebration of mediocrity and nepotism in public appointments, unbridled ethnic rivalries, cronyism and religious extremism. The year was that of the Hushpuppis and a police so corrupt that the United States indicted our most celebrated cop.
As Expected, this state of near hopelessness is pushing Nigeria further towards failure and collapse.
Many who could afford to have been relocating abroad in a torrent in an emigration not driven by lack of employment but out of fear that the country will eventually fail. Those who can have been converting their savings from the Naira to cryptocurrency and foreign currencies, in the expectation that Nigeria cannot survive the cracks.
Ethnic sentiments are widespread. Secessionist groups have grown in number and popularity. Faith in Nigeria as a nation has waned.
Not many expect the 2023 election to save Nigeria, believing that things have fallen so much apart that only a restructuring of the federal system can save Nigeria.
Even the name of our movement, Rescue Nigeria, has been questioned. Some ask: what is there to Rescue about Nigeria?
We still have hope.
We know that if the tumours of our federal system, the evil leadership and poor citizenship are removed, Nigeria will be unleashed to become the most prosperous black African country. We have no doubt that the majority of Nigerians want to live together in peace and harmony and that we are not ethnic antagonists deep down. We just react to the problems around us.
It is why we are not backing out of our mission. We want Nigeria to survive. And we have been calling for political restructuring, without which Nigeria cannot take the next fruitful step.
The present crop of leaders cannot get us to the top of the mountain. They are the mountain that must be levelled.
- Biodun Durojaiye and Tunde Odediran wrote this piece for Rescue Nigeria via firstname.lastname@example.org