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Fuel subsidy removal: The needless furore

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By Maryam I. Shettima

Mr President is in the eye of the storm recently for bravely realizing the inevitable expungement of the fuel subsidy in Nigeria; brave due to the extreme furore and knee-jerk reaction by some gullible and credulous Nigerians, who are convinced that, this decision is most inhumane and anti masses.

Yet, conflictingly, deep within their minds, they are secretly relieved in knowing that the removal is an absolute necessity. Also, they are not unaware of the fact that, Nigerian masses are neither directly nor indirectly benefiting from the obsolete policy. Thirdly, put them in the same position and the same condition, they would not be any different.

The term subsidy means a sum of money granted by the state or a public body to help an industry or business keep the price of a commodity or services low. For decades, Nigeria had a policy to subsidise petroleum product, especially on PMS, which is one of the most consumed petroleum products in the country. This, over the years, has become a thorn in the flesh of our National Economy, due to blatant abuse and corruption by many beneficiaries as would be outlined later. Experts in the field consequently argued that Nigeria can actually do better by removing the subsidy regime in petroleum, and instead, putting the money to use by developing other sectors with emphasis on health-care, infrastructure and agriculture.

For the past two decades, after democratic governments took over from the military in 1999, this topic has been a major bone of contention. The three past Nigerian leaders had a long and onerous battle with Nigerians, in an attempt to convince the Nigerian masses that subsidy is merely an exploitative and self-serving mechanism some unpatriotic elites use, to deprive the nation of its hard earned resources. This battle proved to be a hopeless one…almost!

Why does any attempt by the government to right the wrongs of subsidy hit a brick wall? Did the subsidy regime truly help in providing enough gasoline to our vehicles and industries? Who are the major beneficiaries of the subsidy idea and why are they averse to the policy being abolished? Most importantly, what are the benefits Nigerians stand to gain in the eventuality of its removal? These are some of the questions, that are begging to be explored on this topic.

Going back to memory lane, in 1999 the price of petrol in Nigeria was N11 per litre, by 2015, despite the subsidy, the price had skyrocketed to N145 per litre, an increase of over 15 times on the initial 1999 rate! Coupled with that, the incessant scarcity of petroleum in a country that parades itself as the sixth largest petroleum exporter all these years, is awfully disturbing and beyond shameful.

In reaction to this quagmire, experts like Malam Sunusi Lamido Sunusi: Former Nigerian Central Bank Governor, and former Emir of Kano argued, that the subsidies on petroleum products succeeded in making Nigeria the only oil exporting country that does not enjoy the benefits of increase in the price of crude oil in the international market. According to him; firstly, he reasoned we needed to fix the price of petroleum products ourselves, but then, we do not refine these products! How can you fix the price of a product that you do not produce? We produce crude oil but regrettably the price we fix is for refined products. Thus, suffice it to say…we are fixing the price of what we never produced, as a result, we end up paying enormously for NOTHING. The money meant to improve other more deserving sectors, now is monopolised by a few individuals, consequently deepening the fissures of poverty in the country. This plunged us in a bleak situation whereby while the rich are getting richer; the poor actually keep getting poorer.

Malam Sanusi Lamido is not alone in this argument, Former Minister of Finance; Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala also in a nine paged document, presented to the Federal Executive Council in 2011, similarly leaned toward the same direction of thought, as carried by Vanguard Newspaper of 25th December 2011:

“During that briefing to ministers, Okonjo-Iweala, in a document, titled, BRIEF ON FUEL SUBSIDY, (by) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating Minister for the Economy / Honourable Minister of Finance explained the key facts about subsidy, what fuel subsidy is all about, deregulation of the downstream sector  benefits for deregulation), why the subsidy was going to be removed, pointing out that it was a major fiscal and financial “BURDEN” on the nation, those who benefit from the subsidy as well as the relationship between subsidy and the Federal Government of Nigeria’s budget, among other things”.

From her point of argument, the former minister laboriously, and convincingly, pointed to the fact that, the benefit of subsidy’s removal far outweighs its stay. The policy is nothing but waste of resources and a huge needless economic scam in the name of making the products cheaper for the masses. In the final analysis, if government budgeted N10 for subsidy the masses only get a meagre fraction of Kobo out of it, while some subsidy elites are smiling to the bank with the rest. This systematic siphonage of our common wealth by a few subsidy elites can be clearly seen, if we are to consider the 2018 NEITI report alone, which stated that Nigeria spent about N722.3 billion on fuel subsidy! In healthcare, this amount can build 6 world class standard hospitals each in one of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. The money also if carefully invested on energy sector, can provide our country with over 2000megawatts! This can give a tremendous boost to power generation and lead to massive industrialization, which would in turn provide employment opportunity for millions of “qualified” yet jobless youths in the country. In the area of Agriculture, the money can guaranty food security in Nigeria, and improve farming and other agro allied products in the country.

Interestingly, this same amount of money could also build Ten Dams with modern irrigation facilities, which would also improve agro business in Nigeria, and launch Nigeria in the league of major exporters of Agricultural products for the inexhaustible foreign consumption.

It is both curiously perplexing then, how some politicians who maximally exploited subsidy removal as the cardinal principle of their campaign, now turn back to be its major adversaries! The former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the PDP Presidential candidate in the

2019 elections happens to be one of these. He was quoted recently, attacking President Buhari’s decision on the removal and argued thus on his Twitter handle:

” Federal Government finally withdraws the fuel subsidy and price fixing bazaar that had been rife with corruption and stalling investment. This is something patriots have been calling for and for which I was demonised”

Even the Chief political adversary of PMB, from the above statement, believes the policy is corruption permeated, which every patriotic Nigerian must fight to a standstill. Subsidy removal will at least have two major advantages, killing one major form of corruption and also encouraging investors to put their money in the sector. These at the end of the day, will witness more refineries built in Nigeria, provide job opportunities for our teeming unemployed youths, and would translate to a source of income for more projects development, in transportation , healthcare , housing, and many more sectors.

Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a two time governor in Kano State and former Minister of Defence also kicked against the President’s unpopular decision on subsidy. However, if we are good students of history we could remember vividly how in 2011, during fuel subsidy removal’s nationwide protest, the same governor ordered for the shooting of the protesters in Kano. According to him, the idea is ill-timed and inhumane, but like the Chairman of Nigerians in diaspora acknowledged, much as the idea is painful, coupled with Corona Virus pandemic and a slump in the global economy, still agreed the decision is unavoidably necessary. As far as the oppositions are concerned the only right time for the removal is when they are in power, as long as as they are out of it, no time will ever be right!

As far as “WE” are concerned, it is a welcome idea, Nigerians need more focus on developing projects, they have no or limited luxury of enjoying as a result of subsidy regime, the wise and far-sightedly man, took the painful decision, not to further the harsh economic conditions Nigerians are in, but to alleviate their suffering, fight corruption, improve, lay out and solidly set the stage for more infrastructures, and a solid foundation for National Economic growth. There is no way we can stop fuel smuggling across our boarders with the current pricing system. The subsidy removal will bring more investment in the sector, government will get more income for projects implementation, and in the long run, prosperity and progress will reign!

#webelieve!??

Maryam I Shettima is an Abuja based social media activist, and the CEO of #webelieve!?? movement.


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South Africa, so unlike Nigeria, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

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A few weeks ago, South Africa was in turmoil, having witnessed a reenactment of violent uprisings reminiscent of its ugly past, the apartheid era and the early days of post-apartheid politics in what was termed black-on-black violence then; Mongosuthu Buthelezi’s ethnically divisive Inkatha Freedom Party was in a power tussle with African National Congress, (ANC).
 This time, the Jacob Zuma prison-induced violence cost 337 lives; 79 in Gauteng province and 258 at KwaZulu-Natal province, Zuma’s place, on whose behalf the protesters marched to the streets before looting followed. The former president, who is being tried over allegation of corruption, was given a 15-month jail term, for contempt of court after his refusal to show up. The ding-dong affair degenerated further into protests by his supporters and before you know it, the country was engulfed in more crisis of arson, looting and killings.
Like Nigeria, where peaceful protests often turn violent, South Africa’s similarly became violent and bloody. Such anger found expression in the //EndSARS ‘movement’ last year, which soon spilled over to the street. It started as an organized revolt of the youth against entrenched police brutality; calling out government peacefully, before it was hijacked by hoodlums leading to violence, killing of security and paramilitary personnel, arson on businesses and government property. The economic cost from the //EndSARS protest was put at N1.5tn according to Financial Derivatives Company, while that of South Africa was so far put at 1.36 billion dollars.  For South Africa, the vices that followed made the protest seem like a scene from Nigeria where such problems are common, but in actual fact, the South African protest was planned, going by the rivalry between former President Zuma and current President Cyril Ramophosa on the one hand and the KwaZulu/ business interest groups vehemently supporting Zuma and against his trial from day one. Other than that, the actions and reactions are different and I dare say, South Africa is still light years ahead of Nigeria in many respects. 
In the first instance, how is it possible to arrest and charge to court any ex-president of Nigeria, for whatever infractions without his ethnic group and partners in crime crying foul. Two, it is definitely not possible in Nigeria for any court to send a former president to prison, even when they or their appointees steal Nigeria dry and leave the country in penury or debt overhang. The only exception is the late Sani Abacha, whose infamous Abacha loot became a mantra only because of his ignominious rule after the annulment of the June 12 election and the manner of his death. If he were alive, no amount of allegation of embezzlement would have led to his prosecution not to talk of being jailed. Which gutsy judge has the courage to do so? In Nigeria?
However, after dithering for a while, Jacob Zuma turned himself in and now serving his jail term. In our type of presidential system, the president wields so much power, he can do no wrong.  The Nigerian president is the most powerful in the world; he is deified and his support base is solid. So how could such a man of power turn himself in?
 On its part, the South African government allowed Jacob Zuma to return home for his brother’s funeral. Didn’t former Sultan Dasuki die, while his son, former NSA Sambo Dasuki was in prison. Was Sambo given the opportunity to go for his father’s funeral. What about Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been incarcerated for over five years now. Or was Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 election ever allowed to see the day daylight until Abacha passed away? 
You won’t be wrong to think that Zuma and current President Cyril Ramphosa belong to opposing parties. No, both ex and serving presidents belong to the same political party, the ANC even if different factions. This is almost unthinkable in Nigeria where the party in power gives unalloyed support to ex and serving president under their umbrella, right or wrong.
 Disgraced Zuma was forced to resign in 2018 over allegation of corruption after he lost the support and loyalty of his party, the ANC and after his approval rating was said to have dropped to 34 percent. Could that have happened under Obasanjo, Yar’adua, Jonathan-PDP days or the Buhari-APC government? Who in the ruling APC dares pass a vote of no confidence on Buhari as ANC did to Zuma in 2018?
Zuma’s rule amplified the ethnic (and racial) divides for which South Africa became infamous but this time between the black ‘population and its large ethnically Indian community’ in Kwazulu-Natal province. The violent eruptions further damaged the reputation of the long-established party in Africa-the ANC and of course the credibility of government, even as people have begun to lose faith in the party, once associated with the revered father of the nation, Nelson Mandela. In Nigeria the ruling party is courted by all-opposition and the likes, so does its credibility matter? 
A few people including a Radio DJ have also been arrested on charges of incitement to commit public violence, but in Nigeria they are simply unknown gunmen, who never get arrested or tried. 

Right of reply
 Re: As banditry eclipses the North, by Abdullahi Musa

I read your article in Premium Times. I however know you are a big shot on the Board of Blueprint newspaper, the online version of which I read daily. We ordinary citizens used to think that media practitioners always had their ears to the ground. Rampant, pervasive insecurity in the North has erased that thought. Our thought now? Nobody knows the causal factors behind insecurity, and nobody knows the solution.In medicine, it is vital to know the cause of the disease before a cure is found. Who are bandits? Besides collecting ransom, why do they kill innocent villagers, impose penury on them? And why only in the North?
I read in the last seven days or under, the comment of either CAN or Church leaders that El- Rufa’i invited banditry to Kaduna State due to his acidic comments. He was saying something, but it seems nobody cares to decipher. I doubt if by acidic comments the religious leader meant El Rufa’i’s comments that he would not negotiate with bandits.An eminent person, who has appointed himself as a kind of spokesperson for the bandits (I mean Shaykh Gumi) said that if the federal government refuses to negotiate with the bandits, the killings would continue. And they have! Who are the bandits? Are they under one unified command? What do they want? Gumi must know. Then how did he come to know while Hajiya Zainab, a seasoned journalist does not know? Nobody cares.
I used to respect El- Rufa’i, but not any longer. For I have come to perceive that he believes in a soulless development: with bulldozers flattening the corpses of hapless citizens. Yet, since he is a political actor, I will benefit if I try to understand his thought process.I believe he refuses to negotiate with bandits because he believes they are sponsored. Does he know their sponsors? Likely. Does he believe he will have the upper hand in this deadly political battle? May be that would not concern him, if he would be able to continue with his soulless development. Is there a Chikun (or something like that) local government in Kaduna State?  That is where Bishop or Pastor Adeboye decided to set up his Bethel school. And that is where the recent abduction of students took place. And it falls perfectly into the narrative of Muslims persecuting Christians. But nobody cares.
A year or so back I was active on Facebook. That’s where the impossibility of the Nigerian nation manifests itself fully. I can’t remember what the exact topic of discussion was, but it had everything to do with insecurity in the North. A Biafran replied to my comment with venom: you (Northerners) aren’t seen nothing yet; insecurity will envelop the region right from the Sahel to the whole North. Empty threat? May be. Plausible? Yes, facts on the ground support him.
Ours is the most destructive type of politics. Seems to me that whatever achievement Nigeria recorded as a nation was because of military rule, where the nation was sacrosanct. Today, political actors believe that the nation should be destroyed if their demands are not met. This is who we are. All other 200 or 300 plus tribes must suffer because of the feud between three majors: Hausas, Yoruba, Igbos.Ohanaeze stands by Kanu. Afenifere supports Sunday Igboho. Why?  Because they created them, they are doing their bidding. All Northerners could have been deaf by now as a result of the thunderous screams that could have emanated from the South had ACF decided to stand by Boko Haram leaders were they to come to trial.
Five years into the first republic, Igbos attempted secession, they are still at it. What would comfort Southerners? To have a situation where Northern Muslims would be permanently excluded from federal power? When they wage war against federal character commission, they want to create an impregnable barrier against Northerners from joining federal service: competence simply means Southerners. 
Why is it that Northerners do not want to form their own nation Hajiya Zainab? Is it because they have no oil, no sea? I prefer to believe it is because they have leadership that does not think strategically.Lastly: I ask for forgiveness if I offend you. The greatest threat to Nigeria as a nation is its journalists. The press in the South West is the PR unit of Afenifere.  That in South east barks on behalf of Ohanaeze. They ensure that their citizens are permanently inebriated on the toxic concoction of tribalism.
When Arewa ‘permanently’ had the reins of federal power, Radio Kaduna (Hausa service of course!) was used to keep ‘yan Arewa enslaved to Arewa Establishment. With numerous FM stations now littering the North, wither Radio Kaduna? Come to think of it, there is Ray Power in Kano, does Arewa have a station in the South? If there was, it could have long been burnt down by the armed wing of Afenifere  (OPC), or by Ohanaeze’s IPOB. Are Northerners willingly, heedlessly, marching towards extinction?
Abdullah Musa writes from Kano.


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Healing Nigeria in the spirit of Adha, by Hassan Gimba

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Last week, Muslims the world over celebrated the eid-ul-adha or the “big eid” or “big Sallah”. We are, however, more interested in its meaning, implications and bearing on us as a nation. We need to look at spiritual milestones, hoping to find the seemingly elusive panacea for our ills.

Eid means feast, festival or celebration, while Adha loosely means “sacrifice” (animal sacrifice), “offering” or “oblation”. It so got its name because it commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) devotion to Allah (SWT) and his readiness to sacrifice Ismail, his son, for His love.

The Qur’anic story has it that Ibrahim (AS) experienced a dream in which God ordered him to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail (AS). At first, he was sceptical and believed it was the trickery of the cursed devil. After experiencing the dream the following night, he then understood that it was a message and a command from Allah (SWT). Without hesitation, he prepared his son for the sacrifice. Ibrahim (AS) loved his son dearly, yet this was no obstruction to honouring his duty as instructed by Allah (SWT) and thus proving his full submission to Allah (SWT).

Ibrahim (AS) took his son to the top of Mount Arafat, and in his hands, he had a knife and a rope. Upon arrival, he mentioned the dream to his son Ismail (AS) and made him aware that Allah (SWT) has decreed for him to be a sacrifice and, in obedience, his son Ismail (AS) accepted what God commanded of him. Ismail (AS) asked that his hands and legs be tied to avoid struggling during the sacrifice and that his father should blindfold himself to avoid witnessing his suffering. Ismail was aware of his father’s love towards him and knew that this would be difficult to witness.

However, as Ibrahim (AS) began performing the sacrifice, Allah (SWT) replaced Ismail with a ram and Ismail (AS) was saved unharmed. Allah (SWT) tested Ibrahim (AS) to see his dedication in his submission (Islam) to his creator. In his willingness to obey Allah’s (SWT) commands, Ibrahim (AS) successfully passed the test and the act of the sacrifice serves as a reminder of Prophet Ibrahim’s dedication and devotion to serving Allah (SWT) obediently. Therefore, eid-ul-adha means the festival of sacrifice.

The lesson here is that of sacrifice for a better you. We mostly look at the sacrifice from the point of slaughtering a ram for its meat. Even at that, Islam recommends one to get a healthy, mature and meaty sacrificial lamb that will be a beauty to the eye. Looked at deeply, the sacrifice should translate to sacrificing what one loves in exchange for gaining spiritual upliftment.

Any man uplifted spiritually will spread the love around. He will not be where there will be an injustice. He will not be a party to corrupt activities. Above all, that man will not be where another human being is being harmed. Humanity will be safe with him. If the Nigerian Muslims who took part in the eid-ul-adha all take in the spirit behind the event, our country will be better than it is now.

It is a sacrifice in self-immolation that can only be compared to the myth of the Thornbird in the fictional book, Thorn Birds, a 1977 bestseller by Colleen McCullough. She set the story in Drogheda, a town that does not exist in Australia. In the front matter of the book, the myth is set out thus: There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest, it searches for a thorn tree and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.

The spirit of eid ul Adha teaches us to sacrifice ourselves for God. Ismail (AS) was part of Ibrahim (AS), do not forget. By sacrificing his son, he was sacrificing himself as well.

Nigeria, now more than ever in its history, needs countrymen who are ready to sacrifice for its existence. We should frown at a situation where leaders will call on us to change while they indulge in the perfidies associated with our leaders of old.

It is not fair, nor is it right, for leaders to ask followers to tighten their belts while they punch more holes in theirs to accommodate their ever bulging bellies.

It is also not indicative of leaders with the spirit of sacrifice when they take their children to the best schools around while the public schools are a little better than pigsties.

The spirit of sacrifice is no doubt lacking in the leader who, together with his family, can have access to the best medicare, while a bigger chunk of the people does not have access to basic healthcare facilities.

How can a good Muslim’s conscience not disturb him when he buys good exam results or bribes for his child to get a well-paying job? Why should a good Muslim be happy when he collects money to pass a student or to give him a job?

We are talking of Muslims as citizens because we are referring to an Islamic event that just happened.

But come to think of it, Christianity attaches great importance and symbolism to sacrifices as well. Theirs is even directly and practically connotative of the denial of comfort. Their form of sacrifice focuses on the bodies of its members as a living sacrifice.

And I believe all Christians understand Christ’s death on the cross to be a necessary atonement for the sins of humankind. And if it was so, why should a Christian run away from discomforting himself for God to be happy with him?

In reality, all those who make up a nation must sacrifice for the nation to be great. All religions teach us to sacrifice and all our tribes have stories of legends who sacrificed their happiness for that tribe to survive.

The problem with Nigeria, as my friend Barrister Okoroafor Vincent always insists, is not the North as some southerners would want us to believe or the South as some northerners would insist. He believes it is not even Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw or Tiv, etc. He is also adamant that it is neither Islam nor Christianity. The problem with Nigeria, he opines, is individual selfishness and self-centeredness that border on ‘it is our turn to chop’ and the myopia in putting the self first before the nation. And all people from the tribes have that tendency which is exhibited by adherents of both religions.

The lawyer says if we can put Nigeria first as our collective interest, then we would have a great nation. I cannot agree more.

Hassan Gimba

Healing Nigeria in the spirit of Adha

By Hassan Gimba

Last week, Muslims the world over celebrated the eid-ul-adha or the “big eid” or “big Sallah”. We are, however, more interested in its meaning, implications and bearing on us as a nation. We need to look at spiritual milestones, hoping to find the seemingly elusive panacea for our ills.

Eid means feast, festival or celebration, while Adha loosely means “sacrifice” (animal sacrifice), “offering” or “oblation”. It so got its name because it commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) devotion to Allah (SWT) and his readiness to sacrifice Ismail, his son, for His love.

The Qur’anic story has it that Ibrahim (AS) experienced a dream in which God ordered him to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail (AS). At first, he was sceptical and believed it was the trickery of the cursed devil. After experiencing the dream the following night, he then understood that it was a message and a command from Allah (SWT). Without hesitation, he prepared his son for the sacrifice. Ibrahim (AS) loved his son dearly, yet this was no obstruction to honouring his duty as instructed by Allah (SWT) and thus proving his full submission to Allah (SWT).

Ibrahim (AS) took his son to the top of Mount Arafat, and in his hands, he had a knife and a rope. Upon arrival, he mentioned the dream to his son Ismail (AS) and made him aware that Allah (SWT) has decreed for him to be a sacrifice and, in obedience, his son Ismail (AS) accepted what God commanded of him. Ismail (AS) asked that his hands and legs be tied to avoid struggling during the sacrifice and that his father should blindfold himself to avoid witnessing his suffering. Ismail was aware of his father’s love towards him and knew that this would be difficult to witness.

However, as Ibrahim (AS) began performing the sacrifice, Allah (SWT) replaced Ismail with a ram and Ismail (AS) was saved unharmed. Allah (SWT) tested Ibrahim (AS) to see his dedication in his submission (Islam) to his creator. In his willingness to obey Allah’s (SWT) commands, Ibrahim (AS) successfully passed the test and the act of the sacrifice serves as a reminder of Prophet Ibrahim’s dedication and devotion to serving Allah (SWT) obediently. Therefore, eid-ul-adha means the festival of sacrifice.

The lesson here is that of sacrifice for a better you. We mostly look at the sacrifice from the point of slaughtering a ram for its meat. Even at that, Islam recommends one to get a healthy, mature and meaty sacrificial lamb that will be a beauty to the eye. Looked at deeply, the sacrifice should translate to sacrificing what one loves in exchange for gaining spiritual upliftment.

Any man uplifted spiritually will spread the love around. He will not be where there will be an injustice. He will not be a party to corrupt activities. Above all, that man will not be where another human being is being harmed. Humanity will be safe with him. If the Nigerian Muslims who took part in the eid-ul-adha all take in the spirit behind the event, our country will be better than it is now.

It is a sacrifice in self-immolation that can only be compared to the myth of the Thornbird in the fictional book, Thorn Birds, a 1977 bestseller by Colleen McCullough. She set the story in Drogheda, a town that does not exist in Australia. In the front matter of the book, the myth is set out thus: There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest, it searches for a thorn tree and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.

The spirit of eid ul Adha teaches us to sacrifice ourselves for God. Ismail (AS) was part of Ibrahim (AS), do not forget. By sacrificing his son, he was sacrificing himself as well.

Nigeria, now more than ever in its history, needs countrymen who are ready to sacrifice for its existence. We should frown at a situation where leaders will call on us to change while they indulge in the perfidies associated with our leaders of old.

It is not fair, nor is it right, for leaders to ask followers to tighten their belts while they punch more holes in theirs to accommodate their ever bulging bellies.

It is also not indicative of leaders with the spirit of sacrifice when they take their children to the best schools around while the public schools are a little better than pigsties.

The spirit of sacrifice is no doubt lacking in the leader who, together with his family, can have access to the best medicare, while a bigger chunk of the people does not have access to basic healthcare facilities.

How can a good Muslim’s conscience not disturb him when he buys good exam results or bribes for his child to get a well-paying job? Why should a good Muslim be happy when he collects money to pass a student or to give him a job?

We are talking of Muslims as citizens because we are referring to an Islamic event that just happened.

But come to think of it, Christianity attaches great importance and symbolism to sacrifices as well. Theirs is even directly and practically connotative of the denial of comfort. Their form of sacrifice focuses on the bodies of its members as a living sacrifice.

And I believe all Christians understand Christ’s death on the cross to be a necessary atonement for the sins of humankind. And if it was so, why should a Christian run away from discomforting himself for God to be happy with him?

In reality, all those who make up a nation must sacrifice for the nation to be great. All religions teach us to sacrifice and all our tribes have stories of legends who sacrificed their happiness for that tribe to survive.

The problem with Nigeria, as my friend Barrister Okoroafor Vincent always insists, is not the North as some southerners would want us to believe or the South as some northerners would insist. He believes it is not even Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw or Tiv, etc. He is also adamant that it is neither Islam nor Christianity. The problem with Nigeria, he opines, is individual selfishness and self-centeredness that border on ‘it is our turn to chop’ and the myopia in putting the self first before the nation. And all people from the tribes have that tendency which is exhibited by adherents of both religions.

The lawyer says if we can put Nigeria first as our collective interest, then we would have a great nation. I cannot agree more.


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Open letter to NLC, NUJ, et al…

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By Abdullahi Musa

My hope is that since NUJ, NLC have a history of standing up for the rights of their members, ordinary citizens, it is in order for an ordinary citizen like me to call their attention to the need for them to come forward to rescue Nigeria from the precipice.

Let us say for simplicity sake that there are only two opposing camps: Buhari and his worshippers on the one hand, and all others opposed to him for whatever reason on the other. Of course the ‘grass’ upon which they trample upon is made up of living human beings, having, flesh, blood, and families.

There is seems to be one reigning perspective exhibited by Nigeria’s political class: that is, the interest of the governed is of the lowest rung in the hierarchy of priorities.

Was it yesterday that it was reported that a serving army General was murdered along Lokoja-Abuja road? Earlier report showed like it happened in Abuja. Just like coronavirus,  seems like kidnapping is now in waves: there was the wave for students, then that for traders, now seems to be that for Emirs.

The administration on its part seems not to be interested in finding the root cause of the raging insecurity. Why is it that for instance nearly every Nigerian now is a potential kidnapper? Of course being victim is ( Allah forbid) just a matter of time.

Layin dogo is the Hausa expression for rail line. In fact ‘layin’ is a corruption of line. ‘Dogo’ on the other hand means tall or long.

Buhari’s supporters often call him Dogo,  the tall one. Is it because of his height that he is obsessed with rail lines even when the nation cannot afford it?

ASUU must be taking a nap away from strikes. When they wake up they will find on the newspaper racks in their libraries ( if any) stories of new universities set up by the federal government. Some will say it is commendable. But may be for the first time in Nigeria’s history the nation has the prospect of over 90% of its future revenues going to debt service. ASUU, NUJ, NLC have no opinion,  agenda on this? How are the new varsity especially to be funded?

Much more important, a segment of the political class is daily telling us that Nigeria is facing disintegration . In short, Nigeria is yet to establish, in a civilised manner, how the centre is to be governed. So there is the prospect of new institutions like: Modakoke Union of journalists, Nnewi Labor Congress etc.

So if the ‘N’ in NLC, NUJ is under threat, do members not believe it is time to craft a believable agenda for all Nigerians?

I am reading wrong, but the future of Nigeria seems not to be in good hands.

The political party seems to be irrelevant in a presidential system.

Abdullah Musa writes from Kano.  


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