By Mideno Bayagbon
Email: [email protected]
s the epochal year, 2021, draws to a close in two days, the man, woman or issue which dominated the national or global space will soon be the topic for discussion. All over the world, it has become a global practice to nominate the major personalities or issues which dominated the news and affected the lives of the people, either positively or negatively. First started 97 years ago, in 1927, by the American news magazine, Time, Nigerians soon jumped into the bandwagon and of recent, all kinds of characters have been nominated and crowned Man of the Year by different newspapers, magazines and broadcast houses.
Missing, however, is the rigour, the openness and objectivity required in nominating the Person or Issue of the year. It has been mostly reduced to a vanity fair, influence peddling cash and carry jamboree by some. In some cases, it gets to the ridiculous extent of Governors’ aides, bank corporate affairs managers and all such award seeking personalities and institutions bombarding media houses seeking nomination for their principals. In the hard economic times faced by the going-to-extinction media houses, it is a season to make hay while the sun of potential economic gain shines.
But it really should be a serious business which examines our lives, as a people and a nation, in the last twelve months. It should be a time to put the issues and personalities which have ruled or ruined our lives on a scale and award marks. It should be a time to ask ourselves the honest question: who are those, and what are the issues, which impacted our lives, either positively or negatively in the year 2021? It should be a time to look at the soft underbellies of our lives and nation and tell ourselves the truth. It is the time to eulogise or scold the major personalities; a time to rate the impact of issues on our lives. The major question being, how have these personalities and issues affected us, individually and as a nation? Is our lives better off this year compared to last year, or five or ten years ago?
PRESIDENT BUHARI ON A SCALE
In our seeming soul search, a lot of issues and personalities definitely jump out in this year of hunger and insecurity and pandemic. The first of these, of course, is the President, Muhammadu Buhari, who Nigerians have entrusted their affairs for management. How has the Buhari government fared in the areas of national security, economic development, food security, job creation, infrastructure development, youth empowerment, management of the Covid-19 pandemic; and generally, what is the lived reality of the average Nigerian in the last twelve months? How positively or otherwise has the Buhari government been to the people of Nigeria?
Put on a scale, are Nigerians more secure today than they were one year ago? Put crudely, were fewer, innocent Nigerians, bloodshed this year than in the previous year? Where are we in terms of the terrorists killing and maiming and annexing the lives of Nigerians and her territories? Where are we with kidnappers, Fulani herdsmen and the gamut of criminals making life unbearable for Nigerians? How has the Buhari government fared in handling them? In terms of food security, are the average Nigerians able to feed better than before? On a scale of 1-10, ten being the highest point of satisfaction or excellence; and one, the lowest point of dissatisfaction: how would the average Nigerian rate this government?
Of course, of the positives: infrastructural development, empowerment programmes, covid-19 management and agricultural schemes, what has been the impact on the peoples’ wellbeing? Can we sincerely award this government and President Buhari enough credit points to warrant it to be crowned the Man of the Year? All sincere analyses will reject this and return a verdict of NO!
GOVERNORS EGO AND THE TRUTH
Truth be told, many Nigerian Governors should have ample rooms in the halls of infamy; get ignominious accolades in the realm of bad governance. Were Nigerians to objectively judge the men who superintend over their lives and states, and award them marks, the overwhelming verdict will not be far fetched. For despite their grandstanding and media hype, it is difficult to rationally and objectively put any of the governors on a scale and come up with enough positives to warrant any of them emerging Man of the Year or as it has been reduced to: Governor of the Year! Except for profligacy, impunity, egomania and corruption: the hall of shame should be populated by Nigerian Governors.
We do not need to go too far to have a comparative basis for the above analysis. The first republic governors, (Premiers), and to an extent the set of second republic governors, which had their major shining light in the one the South West Yorubas used to call Baba Kekere: Alhaji Lateef Jakande. He did in four short years, what the combined efforts of all the governors of Lagos state, in the last 20 years, have not been able to meet.
The men who currently occupy that high office of Governor, in this dispensation, are experts in tokenism who flourish as visionless emperors and grandiose incompetents. Across the Nigerian landscape, it is difficult to see even one Governor standing out with the euphemistic “dividends of democracy” that warrants accolades. No, not one. On a scale of 1-10, it is difficult to see any of them scoring a pass mark of five over ten. Yet, in the coming months, the media space will be awash with award ceremonies in which governmental inanities will be celebrated.
POLITICAL CLASS AS AN ALBATROSS
Nigeria, seemingly, has the worse of its people, aspiring and indeed occupying high political positions. Self-centred marauders, conscienceless men and women, who see politics as their own oil well and the easiest route to unearned wealth, rule the roost. Lilliputians with maniac egos. They rule the land with impunity and unbridled wickedness. Scan the landscape. Who are those positioning for 2023 elections across the states and federation? What is their pedigree? What are their true motives? What do they stand for? Who can you vouch for, that he or she is coming with sincere intentions to reverse the unfortunate economic, political and social situations which bedevil the state or nation?
ORDINARY NIGERIANS – WORST ON EARTH
Before the average Nigerian, full of bombastic righteousness, until given power, begins to lament and lampoon the government and those in authority, let me burst our ego: we are the worst citizens this side of civilisation. So any expectation, that because this is the worst time, ever, to be a Nigerian, and so deserve to be named as Man of the Year, should just be perished. Truly, surviving each day is a miracle in Nigeria today. Hunger, as I have consistently noted, is walking naked, with venomous impunity. Prices have shot through the highest skyscraper roof, and are fighting for space in the skies. Scarcity of common food produce means more Nigerians are going to bed hungry today than 60 years ago. Even Alhaji Lai Mohammed, this government’s information minister, known more for his ability to bend the truth to fit his own reality, cannot but agree with this stark reality.
Yes, every Nigerian, however smart, as we claim to be, is a docile, easily manipulatable citizen. Our docility borders on foolhardiness and the worse form of cowardice. The smart-alec politicians easily blackmail us into emotional religious and ethnic pigeon holes to feather their own nest. An insignificant mess of porridge thrown at us is enough to mortgage our consciences. In the face of unbelievable bad governance, which has foisted on Nigerians hunger, insecurity and looming economic and social implosion, we still allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who are the reasons for our poor state of being. At all levels of governance, we see the minuscule number of people who masquerade as politicians and leaders appropriating our commonwealth to themselves and living a life of opulence while subjecting us to starvation and dehumanising existence. But because they are of our ethnic group or religious persuasion, we choose to live on in complicit silence. To reward our continuing foolishness with a Man of the Year award is, therefore, a No-No!
MY MAN OF THE YEAR IS…
With Fulani herdsmen’s unchecked rampage in the South and Middlebelt states of Plateau and Benue, farmers have since abandoned their farms for fear of being killed, raped and or kidnapped. In the core North, ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorists and the bandits in the Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina axis doing the same, have also ensured that farmers, for fear for their lives, have also abandoned their farms. Little wonder that Hunger has become a national sore on our conscience as the cost of foodstuff can no longer be afforded by the majority of Nigerians.
At no time in the history of Nigeria has the security of lives of the average Nigerian been so threatened. Travelling in most parts of the country, by road, is now such a risky venture that only foolish people with a death wish attempt it. Kidnapping in the cities and towns is now a normal feature of our lives. It is even especially so now of travellers, who in some parts of the north are captured and set ablaze in their buses and vehicles. Add these to the mass killings by organised terrorists, whether they are IPOB, ISWAP, Boko Haram or Herdsmen. These reasons and more have informed why, for me, HUNGER, INSECURITY AND BAD GOVERNANCE are easily the Issues, and if you like, the Man of the Year 2021!