At about the time Presidential Spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina’s article titled “The Buhari administration at six : counting the blessings one by one”, heralding the feats of the incumbent government was going the rounds – the surviving kidnap victims from the Greenfield University, Kaduna, were undertaking a round trip back towards civilization from an earthly enforced trip to hell.
This particular demographic of kidnap victims, would, I am sure, have fallen under Mr Adesina’s “dispassionate and fair-minded, not beclouded by political partisanship and undue cynicism” kind. These privileged “literate” abducted Nigerians from the Greenfield University (survivors and slain), like millions of ordinary citizens would surely have been the recepient targets of the Presidential Spokesman’s article.
For the Greenfield kidnap victims, their kith and kin, and for tens of millions of Nigerians touched by the pestilences of a country that continues to fail them, their existential reality is detrimentally so sharp and poignant – any relief to becloud their reality will be Godsent. For them, as for Mr Adesina – “Facts are undeniable, and always remain so. They are stubborn things” – although I suspect Mr Adesina’s facts and theirs will be deduced from polar positions of privilege and lack!
The stubborn facts:
Parents of the recently released and not “recovered” abducted Greenfield students informed reporters they paid well over one hundred and fifty million naira and delivered eight new motorcycles to kidnappers to secure the release of their loved ones.
Vehemently refusing security agent’s the chance to “recover” the kidnapped victims, these embittered(and rightly so) parents narrated how they had toiled for the release of their children without any help or intervention from government.
Their tale of anguish is one families across the length and breadth of the country experience on a daily basis. The failure of government to fulfill it’s primary responsibility of “being” – to protect the lives and property of Nigerians is an open sore, ever widening, smelly and festering.
Data from the global risk consultancy, Control Risks, puts Nigeria in the top three of kidnap-for-ransom hotspots in the world, whilst also placing Nigeria as the country with the highest rate of kidnaps for ransom of locals and foreigners in all of Africa.
We have reached an unenviable place where even security personnel are willfully kidnapped and ransomed.
When in 2018, I put pen to paper on an article entitled; “Ethnic Cleansing and the slaughter of innocents – an Undeclared War”, I had thought and willed that the country was seeing the worst it could and surely with warnings and genuine concerns from all quarters the tide will turn and the government will get a handle on the security situation.
Today, “undeclared” wars, have openly and brazenly been declared across the country with terrorist’s threatening and in some places already supplanting sovereign authority. There are areas of the country now, where all manner of nylon bags are the repositories of security agent’s garbs of officialdom. Shorn of regalia, they’d rather be incognito on the streets as they have become endangered species targeted by “unknown gunmen”.
Terror practitioners – emboldened by the omissions and commissions of sovereign authority now openly slaughter officers of State and wantonly attack, pillage, and raze down governance citadel’s and bastion’s – symbols of sovereign power.
On the heels of the 6th anniversary of this administration – on the order of a separatist group – socio-economic activities in the whole of the South-East region, a great part of the sovereign entity of Nigeria was brought to a halt in a worrying, glaring display of government’s continuing loss of the narrative.
In a “sane” country, the narrative should have been set around a national day of remembrance by “all Nigerians” commemorating the #BiafranDead.
The stubborn fact is that, never in the history of Nigeria has it been so threatened by forces bent on tearing it asunder!
Never in it’s history has a generalized sense of insecurity engendered such feelings of foreboding and helplessness amongst it’s citizens! Compounding this helpless state of existence is an even more hopeless state of impoverishment (hunger).
According to the world poverty clock, 51 per cent of Nigerians, which represents 105,097,856 people live in extreme poverty. Nigeria has since, in the last few years assumed the unenviable status as the poverty capital of the world.
The facts, and Nigerians will feel the numbers ought be more dire according to their realities, but let’s stick with official government and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data, and look at just a handful of measurable indicators from 2015 when this government took over to the present – 6 years hence.
- In 2015 the Inflation Rate was 9 per cent – it’s now 18.12 percent.
- In 2015 Unemployment Rate was 8.19 per cent – it’s now 33.28 per cent.
- In 2015 the Debt Profile was N12.60 trn – it’s now N32.92 trn
- In 2015 the Exchange Rate was $1/ N197 – it’s now $1/ N410
- In 2015 GDP Growth Rate was 2.79 per cent – it’s now 1.92 per cent (2020) / 0.51 (Q1 2021)
The rehash of accomplishments reeled out by Mr Adesina is no mean feat, albeit it will elicit no impactful glow from the Greenfield 14 and their folk – just like it won’t matter to majority of Nigerians beset by hunger and insecurity. And mind, majority of Nigerians are not partisan and indeed wish their governments well – witness the goodwill which accompanied this government into office!
Yes, Nigerians need roads and railways and other critical infrastructure but more critically we want to be able to get about without palpable trepidation of being killed or kidnapped.
Oh yes, Nigerians want and demand livable wages and a thriving economy but peace and security to go about daily activities is an imperative. I am sure my most fervent wish is one with majority of Nigerians – in wishing that this government can turn things around in record time to salvage a floundering country.
Two years hence, the vast majority of Nigerians want to see this administration hand over to the next – bequeathing a unified, stable, peaceful, secure and economically upward moving country and it is for self, family and society we all mostly have these unconditional well wishes. These are our prayers! Until then – what matter with one by one blessings – tangibles to Mr Adesina but intangibles to Nigerians who cannot “feel” – numbed from hunger and dread.
Victor Ikhatalor is a Human Rights Defender and Good Governance Advocate. He tweets on @MyTribeNigeria. Email: [email protected]