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Nigeria: Tough Time Never Lasts

By Dave Baro-Thomas



tough times

The book Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do by Robert Harold Schuller- was a global phenomenon and an all-time bestseller cutting across the iron veil of race, religion and cultures – it resonates with all human spectrums, captures the inevitability of struggles and desires of man to break free from poverty, deprivation and indignity occasioned by socio-economic hardship.

From its inspirational framings to the aspirational possibilities, the content keeps afloat any drowning man and provides the navigational compass for shore-bound initiates.

Has President Bola Ahmed Tinubu foisted on Nigerians tough times, untold hardship and sufferings across the country.? Touted the most prepared politicians for the exalted position in the country, was Mr President confronted with the dilemma of either flowing with the tides of a broken economy since 1960 or taking bold steps to recover the nation through tough decisions because it appears to be stuck in a vicious circle, with the end of the tunnel dimmer than ever.

As agitations and protests against hardships and a failing economy heighten, one wonders why it took Nigerians this long to rise from this deep slumber.

From the dusty streets of Niger State to the ancient city of Kano, Ibadan and down to the commercial capital of the nation, Lagos, protests against hunger in the land are gathering muscles, but how did we get here – where irrespective of tribe, party affinities, religion or region- Nigerians in unison are lamenting bitterly and begging for redemption?

Like the proverbial candle, the nation is not only lit at both ends by her leadership but aflame in the middle, fanned by massive corruption and activities of non-state actors through terrorism, kidnap for ransom, ethnic cleansing and religious bigotry that goes on unabated.

The closest we saw such a groundswell of discontentment over hardship, poverty, and hunger in the land was the IMF/World Bank-inspired Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, under the Babangida regime with the consequences still rocking the foundation of the nation to date, however, if the rumour making the rounds is true, ironically, the economy today is administered by the voice of the president but guided by the hands of the IMF/World Bank.

So, it was nauseating when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole recently said on national TV that the evolving protests by Nigerians against the current spate of hardship are nothing new, priding himself on having led protests in the past, so the agitations today are no big deal, but the question is, are we supposed to have gotten used to hardship since it is nothing new?

How convenient for one to forget the pains of the masses when one moves from the place of advocacy to the corridors of power, and was the economy this bad when Mr Oshiomhole led protests back then.? Has he become poorer in the last 15 years, or has his fortune expanded.? Little wonder activists do not make good public servants, and he may never in his lifetime know what Nigerians are talking about- I stand not to be corrected.

Frankly, Oshiomhole is inconsequential as far as this matter stands right now, and the gospel truth remains that this government must look inwards, or this roof will collapse and kill everyone because tough decisions geared towards the masses demanding more sacrifices are simply nonsensical economic approaches given many broken Nigerians littering the streets already, and directionless policies thrown everywhere.

With the current economic woes and the lack of strategic directions, sadly, it is clear that the best team assembled so far to manage the nation is between Obasanjo and Jonathan, and the reasons are straightforward – not ethnically driven!

Countries are evolving and building from good to great, and at critical junctures, their leadership took the gauntlets and birth enduring reformation and transformation, but Nigeria has suffered one bad headship to the other- no exceptions, and after 64 years, it has been jumping from frying pan to fire at the turn of every change of government.

Anyone who thought life would be easier post-subsidy removal must be a joker, but who ever imagined that there was no outright plan and direction – otherwise, how can a leadership yanked off the nerve of the economy without robust strategies to mitigate the impact and what happened to fighting the fuel subsidy corruption and taking things one at a time, are the fuel subsidy crooks untouchable, invisible and invincible, so, Nigerians must go through the tough times because it never last, right.?

 It is about time this administration did a dispassionate appraisal of these IMF policies forced down our throats because the protests are about to get messier as more states will join soon – any nation with such massive protests could stand on the precipice because the welfare and security of the people are not just the primary purpose of governance, but the acid test to measure a reasonable and wise government.

Without holding forth for this administration, Nigeria was due for the tough decisions of subsidy removal and naira float but without the shock absorbing mechanism and attendant backlash robustly interrogated- was one-way traffic to the den of hungry lions, and, painfully, the unfolding eco-medical prognosis and medications thrown at the problem lack efficacy.

So, here we are in a country where tough time never lags, and it has been an endless downward slope and shammed promises orchestrated to hoodwink gullible Nigerians- from 2015 till date, the nation has fallen flat on its face on all economic fronts, and the renewed hope agenda looks stronger in print than in reality. The way out of this wood stares at us in the face, and we must answer the tough questions.

Can we point to one decent country where a thriving black market for FOREX competes with the official markets, yet we want the Naira float to work.? Can a country escape food shortage where insecurity destroys agriculture.? If agriculture fails, can food inflation (34.41%) be wished away.?  To add insult to injury, Nigerians are still searching for the gains from the subsidy removal, and a president who should know better is not negotiating with the reckless state governments instead of returning to the Okonjo-Iweala’s model of saving for the rainy day but throwing money at them to cushion the impact of the hardship at the state level. History always repeat itself here, what a shame!

To put matters in proper perspective about the IMF/World Bank policies, the bank seems not to approximate the peculiarities of the African problems or the aged-long distortions and systemic failures fostered by our collective value failings and inability to stand up to our leaders and get things done correctly,  or could this be neocolonialism in disguise.

It is one thing to have the courage to do the right thing, but another kettle of fish to have a clear roadmap and painfully, the present economic team lacks what it takes. Nigerians will be pleasantly surprised if the dollar ever reclines or fuel pump prices plummet, but the laws of gravity never work in this clime. 

In conclusion, Robert Schuller affirms that “all it takes is one idea to solve impossible problems”, but it is glaring that Mr President and his team are groping for that joker without much success. Aluta Continua Victoria Ascerta!

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