In 1989 when I was in my final year at Festac Grammar School in Lagos, I made a “senior uniform” for less than N100. So what has happened to making a pair of trousers for N52? In February 2008, I asked a similar question: What happened to one cup rice at 30 kobo? Six years on, Nigeria continues to sail precariously in stormy waters. Nigerians have never had it so bad and so hopeless. Any iota of hope that anyone kept until last week was vehemently quenched by the NIS
In 1989 I could buy a chinos material for N35 and pay the tailor N17 for workmanship. With N50 it was actually possible to make a pair of trousers cut from other types of materials. So depending on the material of your choice, you could keep a balance that can be used for sundries. It was not easy even back then to scoop or save up the N50. I was probably one of those who made their uniforms quite late during my senior high. Some students were radicals anyway. They didn’t really care about the pair of trousers. I was not a complete radical in that sense; we just had a dwindling middle-class family situation in Nigeria and some of us had to source some of the funds to get the things we needed.
The domino effect of half a century of misrule is huge. Today it will cost me about N2000 or more to make a pair of trousers of chinos material. The cost of living is high while the quality is extremely low. Nigeria is like a sinking ship, a place where almost no value is placed on human lives. Infrastructure developments are inadequate or non-existent in many places. Electricity remains at an evolutionary dead end in Nigeria. Many roads are bad and public schools have become relics. Security is zero and other vices are on the rampage daily. Such deprivations depict the sufferings of ordinary Nigerians.
In several ways public administration in Nigeria is similar to committing crimes against humanity. Nigerians hear of federal, state and local budgets every year. They know that the monies disappear in private accounts across Nigeria and worldwide. It goes largely unpunished in Nigeria because from the presidency to the local council, criminals hold sway.
In Nigeria you can steal USD 12m and walk free. You can be a murderer and get a presidential pardon. You can steal N225m and smile like a princess. You can buy 12 presidential jets and ask for more. You make Oliver Twist become an unlikely fairy tale hero by redefining greed and in-satiation. You can feed yourself with N1b of tax payers’ money. There is no limit to the extent of recklessness-everything appears lawless.
In Nigeria, you can be terrorist and own houses in Abuja and in other countries. As a clever media-smart writer you can blog or own a twitter account for billions of naira reward from government officials including the presidency. In Nigeria, pardoned and unpardoned ex-convicts and looters are free to roam again to repeat their madness-loot, kille or cart away. They win election and nomination every voting season.
You can even be a both a murderer and a looter today and a self-made saint tomorrow. Myopism is one of Nigeria’s greatest weaknesses. The other sources of weaknesses are of course religion, tribalism and a law enforcement system that is a complete joke. In Nigeria anything is possible to keep the status quo that promote evil and oppress the majority. The law is meaningless and aimed to punish petty thieves and the less privileged in the society.
One constant concern is also the people who want us to forget about highlighting the problems with Nigeria. They want us to proffer the solutions to the problems of Nigeria. Too easy! Just take a peep in the campaign speeches of each and every one of the major politicians in Nigeria. Take Jonathan for example and his “I have no shoes campaign of 2010”. With the exception of establishing true federalism in Nigeria the other solutions to Nigeria’s problems are contained in his campaign speeches. If Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign was his blueprint, Nigeria will be a paradise by now! What we need to take away is the madness that usually overtakes these souls once they get into offices.
Everything that has a beginning must have an end. One day monkey go go market e no go return . Imagine if the NIS recruitment exercise snowballed into a mass revolution. The national conference will be abandoned and a new re-awakening would have emerged in record time. Under such a rebirth there will be hope that through empowerment I will be able to afford a new pair of trousers again.
Adeola Aderounmu is reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org