Sunday, 24 Oct 2021

TUESDAY CHRONICLES WITH SAHEED

Ministerial Inauguration: Disappointed Again?
I am disappointed that many Nigerians were disappointed with President Buhari’s choice of some of the inaugurated ministers and their assigned portfolios. Since winning re-election in February, this administration has done nothing to show that its second term will be markedly different from the first. Thus, it is safe to have zero expectations. Just for the fun of it, it will be interesting to see how vigorously EFCC will continue its cases against Messrs. Akpabio, Sylva, Ogah, and other appointees with ongoing graft cases.

As regards the ministerial appointments, the deed is done, and there is little use crying over spilt milk. I think the next line of action for us all is to keep the ministers and other appointees on their toes by supporting them with suggestions, recommendations, and constructive criticism. Irrespective of any reservations we may have about their competencies, integrities, and fit for their assigned ministries, the fact is that they are now at the helms of affairs, and as such, their actions (and inactions) potentially have a huge impact on our lives.

It is no news that Nigeria is currently sitting on a time bomb, the most nuclear of which is poor human capital and an eviscerated middle class. This has directly and indirectly led to our biggest challenges as a nation – insecurity, corruption, poor literacy levels (including many educated illiterates), and poor infrastructure (power, transportation, health, and water). Our problems affect us all regardless of faith, ethnicity, or political inclination. As such, I believe we need to play a part, even if it turns out to be unsuccessful, in pushing this administration to improve our collective lot as a people.

Insecurity: We need fresh minds, fresh strategies
It is no news that the level of insecurity in Buhari’s Nigeria is alarming; kidnapping, highway robbery, banditry, inter-ethnic clashes, insurgency, and plain, brutal, unexplained murders are now the norm. It is surprising that there has been no major change in the leadership of the country’s security agencies since 2015, especially the armed forces. Boko Haram (BH) attacks have been on the rise in spite of repeated government claims that they have been defeated. While BH may no longer hold any LGA as territory, they are clearly still strong enough to launch attacks against military bases and civilian populations, derisively termed as “soft targets”. This is evidenced by multiple under-reported attacks by insurgents in many North East communities, including military bases. It is heart-rending that the government keeps underplaying these attacks and referring to them as soft targets.

On one hand, while the government may be deliberately trying to avoid strengthening BH’s propaganda, there is no evidence that this under-reportage is working. Pro-government media is probably muffling news of the attacks so that the administration does not appear incompetent.

Kidnapping and highway robberies are also not on the wane. Inter-state travel is now a complete nightmare, as there are several killing and kidnap zones on the highways, further worsened by bad roads. The Commander in Chief, and the Ministers of Defence, Police Affairs, and Interior, need to get their acts together and do their primary jobs; safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians!

“Lagos immigrants”: Arrest by road, welcome by air
“Arrest of illegal mass movement of Okada riders to Lagos from the North jointly coordinated by the Commissioner for The Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, and his Transportation counterpart, Dr. Abimbola Oladehinde”. This was the exact tweet by @followlasg, the official twitter handle of the Lagos State Government following the ludicrous arrest of “migrating” Nigerian youths from the North a few days ago.

While they have been released without charge, the circumstances surrounding the arrest remain saddening, to say the least. They were paraded for “illegal mass migration”; whatever that means. Except the Constitution was amended yesterday, every Nigerian is free to lawfully migrate and work in any part of Nigeria. It is understandable that security checks need to be done in the light of rising insecurity and our porous borders. However, the manner the incident was handled clearly suggests discrimination which borders on the racial. At the moment, the biggest crime you can commit in Nigeria is to be poor.

I have seen many people defend the action of the Lagos state government, saying that it needs to check the influx of migrants into Lagos. Rest assured that the wheel of injustice is never static. “E fit be you” tomorrow. Please keep the same insipid energy when people turn a blind eye.

I blame those Northern youths actually; they should have secured visas from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Lagos located in Jigawa before migrating to Lagos, and arrived by air too! Bloody illegal immigrants!

On the flip-side, it is disheartening that an under-performing state like Lagos is viewed as a greener pasture by many Nigerians from other parts of the country. In my opinion, Lagos state, compared to other states in Nigeria, is like a one-eyed man in the midst of blind people. This is a pointer to how poorly developed many parts of Nigeria are. The State governors as a matter of urgency need to put on their thinking caps and develop their states, such that migrating will be a want rather than a need.

Other matters
Sarcasm remains an extreme sport in Nigeria. I made a Facebook post some weeks regarding the delay in appointing a cabinet by the president. In a sarcastic tone, I allayed the fears of many, saying that the delay was to ensure that we don’t have a repeat of the first term, and that the president was taking his time to weed the list of corrupt and incompetent people! I got some sarcastic comments, some thumbs ups from many ardent supporters of the President, and some flaks from not-so-ardent supporters of the president.

Saheed Animashaun is a public affairs analyst. He can be reached via saheed.animash@gmail.com

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