Opinion

Racing towards doomsday: Nigerian sand-clock

In the wake of the World War II, a truly world wide conflagration that cost humanity trillions of dollars in current world value and about 50 million lives, and which arguably was mankind’s most devastating and destructive war to date, there emerged, as if in compensation, a bonanza of developmental benefits on an unprecedented scale.

A flowering of human achievements released streams of novel benefits in science and technology, in politics and in civil society.

These quickly and radically transformed global societies as we knew it. Today, 77 years on, the world is on an ever expanding multifaceted frontier, across all areas of human endeavors, in genetic science and modern medicine, in space exploration and in clean energy generation and consumption to name but a few.

Every where, these surges are upgrading and empowering life with modern miracles of health care, faster and more efficient modes of transportation and novel in-your-hand entertainment and communication facilities via digital technologies. Mankind has now firmly entered into the Age of Aquerius.

Yet in certain parts of the world, specifically in its third world theaters, the trend is of an ever increasing developmental gap between them and the rest of the industrialized world.

In Sub-Saharan Africa we seem to be standing still at a time when everyone else is accelerating forward, and appear cold and indifferent to the ground swell of socioeconomic evolutions exploding all around us. Our basic infrastructures are essentially stone age. Public utilities are all but nonexistent, the education sector is less than third rate, a far cry from its post colonial era of excellence.

The judiciary and the legislature routinely fail in their fundamental role as counter weights against the excesses of the executive in the tripartite structure of state power. Basic health care delivery systems are retrogressing exponentially, with as much momentum and determination as those of other countries are surging forward.

And nowhere is this sorrier a truth than in Nigeria, the Giant of Africa, a country endowed with enormous human and material resources and to which so much was given at its inception and therefore so much more expected. With a land area of over 300,000 square miles, a total population, using the most recent World Bank data, of 216 million, and with an abundance of agricultural, crude oil (its the 12th largest petroleum producer in the world with the 10th largest reserve) and mineral resources the country should have no other destiny but that of being an African powerhouse on the global stage. But alas, egregious corruption and mismanagement have brought us to this precipice where we now perch on the verge of total self destruction.

6 years of government under the current administration has not only failed to bring about the fulfillment of the election campaign promises of improved national security, the resurrection of dilapidated infrastructure and curtailing of public office corruption but instead it has overseen the worst deterioration of these indices in recent history.

The country is now rated 0.539 in the Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of a country prosperity derived, not from bare economic improvement indicators but from estimates of its human populations’ wellness. Nigeria’s position amounts to a place in the low HDI catagory of countries. According to current World Bank data in 2018 40 percent of Nigerian lived below the poverty line.

While another 25 percent (53 million) were vulnerable. The number of Nigerians living below the international poverty line is expected to rise by 12 million in 2019-23.

As if that was not enough wholesale banditry and the wanton taking of lives are now the order of the day. Just recently the macabre massacre of 50 in- nocent worshippers in an Owo town catholic church in a sneak attack from a band of terrorist ostensibly now identified by the government as members of the international terrorist organization ISWAP stands as a morbid parable of the terminal decay the country now finds itself in.

Following that meaningless and crass crime there was no significant reaction from the government over an obviously alarming breach of National Security. The ongoing presidential primaries went on as usual as if it was a herd of cattle that had just been slaughtered.

The Vice President paid a perfunctory visit to the church and a few security sessions were held in Abuja and that was that. No storied outraged outcry, no security lockdowns marshaling elite security forces in a massive manhunt of the perpetrators. In a country like Nigeria, a dominant regional power with preeminent military and security forces not a leave was stirred in pursuit of these blood soaked miscreants, The Trumpet gathered.

These sort of atrocities have become common place. It was business as usual and to all intents and purposes the perpetrators waltzed away scot-free locked and loaded to strike another day. This morbid example of of our current reality as a nation, the apparent abject absence of government in the affairs of the common man, foretells a very bleak future indeed if nothing changes fast.

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The lowly Nigerian’s situation and deprivations are getting worse, his future ever more uncertain and the value of his life and property ever more precarious.

The country is at the closest in decades to internecine war. This situation is as painful as it is inexcusable. Because there is no other cause for it but the willful intransigence of her nationals to collectively move forward. Era after era Nigeria’s GDP gets a boost from massive international crude oil price hikes with massive amounts realized from oil revenues, such as the “missing” 12 billion dollar windfall in petroleum revenues under the military dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babaginda.

And now, post the Corona pandemic, a barrel has gone from a below 0 dollar value during the hey days of the pandemic in 2020 to being well over 100 dollars per barrel today.

The country produces over 140 million barrels per day on average yet this significant uptick in income is certain to translate very poorly into any real world benefits for the poor man on the street.

He will likely remain without power, water or good roads, basic amenities with which to make ends meet. What he does have is the growing burden of the national debt which now stands at 221.25 billion US dollars, giving a debt to GDP ratio of 23.3 percent.

And given the long term nature of these loans and the fact that we are already servicing our debt with well over 76 percent of our GDP his future generations have effectively been mortgaged for centuries to come.

We “stand accused of foolish blunder in choosing to plumb this path of fallow surrender” (Phillip Desaint: Calabash of Colors) yet we do not seem to have what it takes to see the danger and follow the safer paths already settled by others.

Not to seek immediate solutions to sustained developmental improvements both in terms of human resources and our infrastructure will tantamount to our having set up a sand-clock towards Doomsday.

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