Jonathan Parties Hard while Nigeria Burns

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

She was in tears; sobbing through our conversation. She recounted to me how traumatic her first day real life experience in Nigeria’s hospitals went. She was fed up with the system; she believes it can never work. Who can blame her? She saw a human being die at the doorsteps of facilities built to save life, but could not do anything about it due to a nationwide doctors’ strike.

She spoke of flies swarming about dead bodies dumped beneath the stair cases to her morbid place of work- a teaching hospital better known as a mortuary. No she was not the patient’s relatives, neither was she their primary care giver…she was just a first time resident. She is a medical student, getting a firsthand lesson of Nigeria’s stinking healthcare sector on her first day of residency during an ongoing nationwide strike. And in the middle of all of this, the President wants to spend =N=10 billon to celebrate independence? Independence from common sense?

Can someone spell out disconnected? Here the nation is in the throes of a nationwide doctors’ strike and the best and most imaginative program our president can come up with in quick succession was how to party with ten billion Naira in London? Okay, forgive me; he also banned the national football team. Now, that is something for an achievement.

In a nation where two-thirds live on less than one dollar a day, spending anything more than zero naira on a real scandal of an independence day celebration (one that have brought sorrows, tears and blood on the streets to Nigerians) is simply wicked. And here we have a President having no qualms increasing that largesse from a modest fifty million naira, to nothing but extravagant equivalent of nearly seventy five million dollars. I don’t even think prosperous nations like Canada or United States spend a tenth of that on their milestone independence celebrations!

Well here is the newsflash for the recently carried away progressive forces that have been experiencing a somewhat kumbaya moment since Dr. Jonathan took office; the =N=10 billion naira is not for any celebration. What we just got ourselves is PDP campaign slush fund. Does anyone remember how quickly a similar NAPTEP program for use by Obasanjo and his cronies to win the 2003 elections was arranged at the eve of that election? How well did that go?

Mr. Goodluck apparently is not banking on any luck for his re-election; he is busy playing the same old games. It goes like this: Authorize a slush fund, dole it out only to the faithful (read, riggers and their thugs), sit on the sideline and wait for these criminals to overrun the countryside during a mayhem called Election Day, and then cry crocodile tears after the elections that “even God cannot conduct clean elections in Nigeria”. We’ve seen this movie before, and I hate to break it to you: Goodluck is as filthy as the rest of the pack.

What will inevitably happen to the contracts that will be awarded to the run-up to the Independence Day “party” out of this seventy million dollars allocation will be political jujitsu of the highest proportion. A mere transfer of hard earned national funds to a private political enterprise, or criminal gang some say, called the PDP. Enough is enough.

While GJ is busying himself with this broad day light assault on our sensibilities, his economic handlers apparently failed to inform him that now is not the time to cut budget or any of that nonsense he is asking for under his supplementary request. His budget cut request will make sense if he was asking us to massively reduce the cost of our over bloated government and direct more money towards capital projects that create jobs and stimulate growth. His cuts will make sense if they were directed at the starved education and health sectors, not into a truly shameful Independence Day gala to be held in London. Instead, GJ in all his wisdom have asked that capital projects be cut; that doctors’ salaries and arrears not be paid; that patients should die while his wife makes weekly trips to Dubai!

Here is a President sitting over a massive economy with huge potential that does not know what to do with it. While the rest of the world is in recession, their government was stimulating. In Nigeria, we were worried first about the ill health of a comatose leader, and later his successor’s ability to manage a flailing nation and ultimately a world cup team that was worse than nightmare. In the process, valuable national resources and energy was expended on thoroughly unproductive political gamesmanship as our economy keeps sliding into the “shit pool”. What is the matter with Nigeria?

Here are few suggestions sir to right your wrongs. How about you immediately declare a national day of mourning on October 1, 2010? This day will be to mourn the painful destruction of our country by your buddies and their godfathers in the past fifty years. We save =N=10 billion, and we direct that to paying our doctors and teachers, who can resume healing and teaching again.

While you at it, perhaps figure out how we can get out of this cyclical jam of strikes in our essential sectors. Would a national law prohibiting essential services (police, teachers and doctors/nurses) strikes, while guaranteeing automatic cost of living adjusted living wages to our policemen, teachers, doctors and nurses not make sense?

If you and your crew cannot bring imagination and creativity to the moribund art of governance in Nigeria, you truly deserve a retirement to Yenagoa, and I cannot wish anything but quick and safe trip. While you at it don’t forget to pack your doctorate degree frame (in zoology) in Aso Rock, you will need it in your next life. For us, we refuse to be guinea pigs in your experimentation of fiddling while our mothers and children die in our hospitals now turned mortuaries. Apparently the only creativity you have is in disbanding what does not work. How about you ban the federal government?

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