Taking Nigerians to the next level

Taking Nigerians to the next level

By Bayo Fasunwon
While interrogating the faces of the electorates and engaging in informal discourse on their expectations of the new administration, an issue came up on the social media. It was the video of a young pupil, who was sent off school due to the failure of her parents in paying her school fees. While I commended the young girl’s boldness and sincerity of expression, other things caught my attention in the video. The young girl was angry that she was sent away from school, rather than being flogged. There was a great desire for learning by the young girl who expressed herself well in Pidgin English. She was angry because she was denied access to education, despite the fact that she was still going to pay.

When she eventually pay, would she be given extra lessons to cover lost grounds, which her money covered? The young girls desire to learn is being truncated by the financial inability of her parents. With government’s neglect of public schools in Nigeria, many brilliant and intelligent Nigerians are being denied access to education.  With the way and manner, wealth is being squandered during elections; Government has no excuse for neglecting the primary (foundational) education to the hands of the private sector. In saner environments, the primary education would have been free, monitored, and compulsory. This is the least that any government that seeks to achieve the sustainable development goals and achieve development would have done for its citizenry.

It was also pathetic that the girl (Success?) was willing to be caned for her parents’ abdication of duty. Just like the true Nigerians who defied the rain, sunshine, stray bullets, and thugs to exercise their rights to vote, the girl was willing to suffer for her right to education. The girl exhibited the willingness to go through the severest of all pains to get that, which would benefit herself, unborn generation, and community in the future. This Nigerian spirit however is being killed by policies that denies her and (Nigerians) from being equipped for the future. Many a time, government policies had killed business ideas, ventures, and the will of Nigerians to succeed despite the harsh socio-economic environments that they had found themselves. While Nigerians are ready to go through pain in order to succeed, Nigerian leaders have exhibited their disdain for sacrifices in order for the nation to move forward. Nothing stops the ninth Senate members from sacrificing some of their ‘allowances’ for the development of the country. We expect that public office holders would for the sake of the sacrificing masses, and children such as this little girl, decide to make financial and material comfort in order to move the nation from the quagmire and mud that it has found herself to the paradise that Nigerians are willing to create. The electorates expect a truly representative legislator, whose link with them will not be severed or reduced to online interactions. They expect Legislators who will sponsor, debate and pass bills that would be to the advantage of the citizens and nation, and not selfish perpetuation of bigotry and unjust administration of power. Nigerians expect that their lawmakers would not be those who distribute kettles, shoe polishes, and motor bikes as empowerment schemes. Not those who would ‘construct and donate’ a single room toilet, wooden bridges, coloured water, and refurbished school furniture as their constituency’s ‘developmental’ projects. Furthermore, we expect a robust Senate where discussions would be based on research and decisions would be based on insight, foresight, and nationalistic dedication. While we do not expect lawmakers to be rubber stamps, their position must not, as was witnessed in the eighth Senate, be used to create hiccups that would impede the development of this nation.

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From my discussion with Nigerians, the general panacea to the problem of Nigeria was what God realized when faced with the void, formlessness, and darkness filled earth.  To them, God did not create a seven point agenda, nor did He chant any mantra to set the earth on a proper cause. He only said: “Let there be light”. The availability of light paved the way and determined the nature of development and innovation that took place on earth. Nigerians have concluded that the problems of Nigeria would be solved the day Nigeria is able to announce and celebrate 100 days of interrupted electric power. Many businesses have been grounded due to non-availability of constant and useable power. Many industries have either folded up or relocated to other countries due to the non-availability of power. How can a young Nigerian learn barbing, welding, and other power related vocations in the absence of light? Many women could have been gainfully employed in online businesses had there been constant electricity. Technological development is hampered in the absence of light. Work stops in many government establishments, the moment light goes off, and many are such days. Lack of electricity affects all sectors of the Nigeria economy. With the absence of light comes exploitation by electricity distribution companies. They reap with impunity where they do not sow; extort money for services not provided and deprived hardworking citizens of their hard-earned cash. Many are thieves in the clothes of privatization. Nigerians expectation from this government is let there be light.

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Briefly, Nigerians are asking that the elected should give them a system that works.  A system that reduces poverty, tension, stress, and humiliations. A system that respects sustains and maintains the dignity of persons. A system that gives a kinetic force to human potentials. A system that reduces mortality of ideas and promotes the conception and birth of greatness. A system that would not shut the door knowledge nor open national vaults to selected private use. A system where the sufferings of a while would deliver dividends that lasts generations.  Nigerians are expectant that these elected leaders would pay salaries on the 24th of each month, and not pile up salaries in arrears thereby killing the Goose that lays the golden eggs. We also expect that they would encourage workers to retire without being tempted to steal in lieu of the their pensions and gratuities, which may never come.

Finally, the little girl vowed that if the school authorities that sent her home for nonpayment of her school fees think that they are stubborn, she would show them that she is more stubborn. That is a vow to be aggressive due to frustration. The Bible warns fathers not to provoke their children to anger. Systemic failure and governance that care less for the social welfare of a child has created a deviant animosity against a nation that is struggling to confirm its existence. As long as injustice and consciously induced poverty prevails in the country, insurgency and militant activities would no longer be news in the country. As we speak, there are many disillusioned youths and adults on the streets of Nigeria; that are waiting for the opportunity to strike back at a nation and leadership that had failed them. This aggression has been demonstrated in the way and manner in which votes were cast in the just concluded elections. However, if the elected do not wake up to realize that they have been placed in position of trust to create an enabling environment for better life to the masses, the insurrection that may follow may be beyond the capacity of uniformed men (who may also be suffering).  Nigerians expect that those they have voted into power would know that peace through poverty reducing policies and programmes is more effective and durable than peace through the barrel of the gun or post conflict carrots.

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