No government, however inept, fails to record some form of achievement. It takes real genius to succeed in spending four years actually doing nothing. What it fails to do, or what it does wrongly, deceitfully or prejudicially, is what concerns the citizenry – Wole Soyinka.
The nurse’s confession was with much sorrow. She goes home every night thinking of the dreams they killed in the line of duty. The tiny forms of arms and limbs beneath the basin of blood converge to cause her nightmares every night. She started each day never to be a part of abortion routines again, but ends it in the procedure room. “It is the sameness of human failure, of inadequacy in the face of each day’s dull demands,” she said helplessly. For days, I kept recalling her narrative, guilt, helplessness, and started seeing her script played out in the social sphere of our country. I soon came to this conclusion: We do abortions too and kill dreams here. That is what we do; abortions.
Abortion is illegal and the nurse recognizes that. “But what do I do, when they keep coming; in need and desperation?’ she said. The nurse has seen all sorts. An 18-year-old fresher that is pregnant for the fourth time. A 48-year-old mother of six that cannot bear another pregnancy. An angry 56-year-old woman in a failed birth control episode. A 16-year-old orphan, uneducated, and victim of rape. A late thirty-something that only detected genotype incompatibility after pregnancy, and so on. “Each abortion is a measure of our failure to protect, to nourish our own. Each basin I empty is a promise – but a promise broken a long time ago.”
But our fate is not so different from those pregnancies aborted. Nigerians, like citizens of other countries all started life with hopes and aspirations, expecting the system to nurture or support their noble ambitions. With good character and excellent grades in school, the sky will be the starting point. Not anymore. Like many would say today and with conviction: “school na scam!” But would you blame them? Youths in Nigeria are living a broken dream with no hope on the horizon. Think about it, Ph.D. holders, the highest qualification in learning and research, but unable to find teaching appointments are driving Uber taxis all over town. Quite a number of them did apply to drive Dangote trucks the other day! That is our experience. It is one that kills dreams.
Things are so awkward that even as a scholar with the right qualifications, you need to know someone in the presidency, a serving Senator, House of Reps member, someone highly placed to be considered for employment in tertiary institutions. It no longer matters even if you emerged the best or the most qualified. That is not a country of our founding fathers or one we used to know while growing up. It is a mediocre system that prefers who you know and the quality of eye-service than the brains between the ears. It is not one that inspires hope for the young or the unborn.
What is curious is that the handlers of our procedures, unlike the nurse, cannot feel any sense of guilt. Aborted dreams are no big deal to them. Yet, they are supposed to be the noblest, compassionate, and most experienced among us. Most of the people leading us are older than Nigeria and have seen it work. They are beneficiaries of its prosperity and could tell the difference between what was and what is. But it seems like a curse to be led by geriatrics or the most exposed. Or, how else can one explain our Vice President putting up a bold face to justify compressed hardship on a beleaguered public? Was that the norm when he was growing up? Where has he seen such a model in the world? Was it by inspiration of God or the devil?
How much of these are hyperbole? For a start, this is not the country or economy bequeathed to the APC government in 2015. Nigerians wanted a sane country better than what the then president had capacity and courage to engineer. But his successor, this government, has made it worse and keeps getting it ruined on all fronts. Numbers don’t lie. PMS per litre is N160. It is at a time electricity tariff doubled from N30.23 kWh to N62.35 kWh. Naira to one dollar is at N460 from N165 in 2015. Value Added Tax (VAT) is now 7.5 per cent. Banks impose N50 stamp duty, while reducing interests on savings from three to one per cent. A bag of local rice is N25, 000, and N31, 000 for its smuggled imported variant. Food inflation is now 17.3 per cent.
It should therefore not surprise anyone that Tradermoni scheme beneficiaries are unable to repay the N10, 000 loans, as reported the other day. They are petty businesses that didn’t foresee that their benefactor would raise the bar midway and drain off the investment with wicked policies. Buhari/Osinbajo’s antidote for hardship is more hardships. More people are out of jobs than the one-million-jobs a year this government promised but never kept since 2015. Yet, beleaguered Nigerians need to be squeezed off their meagre earnings to build infrastructure and empower both the greed and kleptomaniac disposition of the political class? So, how come this government has in five years borrowed more than others?
No matter what Buhari’s apple-polishers say, this country has taken turns for the worst. No amount of lies from official brownnosers will wish away the pains inflicted on Nigerians. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo likened the country to a basket case (I think it is ajadi-apere), and they have abusively taken on Baba Iyabo, the letter writer, conveniently forgetting the message. The United States think-tank and the Fund for Peace recently ranked Nigeria 15th most failed nation in the world. No official comment. A national daily last week reported that 264 Nigerians have committed suicide in the last four years. Just one in every five suicides gets reported. No comment too, because those are the grim realities of our lives.
A country that inspires despair and suicide cannot instigate hope and lofty dreams at the same time. For those that will ideally not contemplate suicide and still have their dreams intact, they have to salvage them from abortion. It is a shame on all our leaders that the best option left for thinking Nigerians is to exit this country. Not everyone is fascinated with second-class citizenry in Europe or America. But where people they entrust with their lives would not even care but get oppressive, then a caricature of hope elsewhere will be most welcome. If there is hope here, all children of our leaders will not be overseas.
It is important to state that the task of nation building is enormous. And it begins with taking responsibility for every action or inaction. Like it is in medical practice, statecraft has its rules too. It demands courage and skills to surgically operate the ills causing the society to be dysfunctional, without killing the patient. Like the nurse, there must be an honest admission of ills, with the zeal to make quick amends than rationalise it in compassionless tones. Only that way could we claim to have faithfully served man, humanity and God. But in the interim, we all have our dreams to salvage from the hands of these abortionists. Ire o!