Vanguard (Lagos)

1 January 2013

Nigeria: Oh, Come All Ye Fearful!

opinion

TODAY, New Year day, is supposed to be a happy one. Last week was Christmas which was expected to be merry. But many of our countrymen were weary and in excruciating grief as we celebrated Christmas.

Many went to Church--if they did--with their hearts in their mouths because of terror bombers. And for sure, the demons with who we share a country sent many to their graves and their relations into mourning. Instead of singing soul lifting carols, many sang elegies to loved ones. Many donned black cloths as they lowered to mother earth loved ones who should have been sitting at lunch and dinner tables with them. Instead of passing the salt across lunch tables, many passed shovels of sand for the dust-to-dust rites!

Even as we usher in the New Year today, many will be digging new graves or pondering over fresh graves of loved ones buried few days ago. Many who set out on a journey of season's reunion with relatives ended the journey in a mortuary, thanks to our express death traps! There are many today who are in the captive dungeon of wicked kidnappers. Many families are anxiously waiting for the phone to ring for the kidnappers to name the ransom or to continue negotiations for ransom. Many have been denied the mirth of the season because of unemployment. Millions are going hungry today because of poverty. Many walked past the giant shimmering Christmas trees that adorned the cities but did not see them! Yet, it was Merry Christmas and happy New Year?! Morbid?

That is the reality for many Nigerians today. Death stalks the land! Yet a very infinitesimal minority among us are living with vulgar ostentationas if it were their last day on earth! The most expensive wines will spring from cellars to satiate the pallets of the stupendously rich. After all, that is why they pillaged our economy. The oil subsidy rogues and their wives will adorn themselves with the gaudiest apparels and jewelleries bought with our blood. Their imitators, the raving band of armed robbers and kidnappers, will show off, spray the loot and acquire chieftaincy titles with proceeds from dynamited banks and ransom. After all, that is why they have kept us sleepless!

If you have still not noticed, the recent happenings in our country must bring it home to you that we are now what the inimitable Fela called "Upside Down" country, where "Authority Steals". The bad guys are waging a relentless war against the rest of us, and they seem to be winning. Some have been saying: "If you fight corruption, corruption will fight you back". Naaw! It is worse than that! If you dare corruption, corruption will crush you! Corruption now wields Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers, all combined! It is now the watchdog over the media! Step out of oga's line, you get fired! Who does not want to live in a mansion and drive exotic cars? But, you see, corruption is smashing everybody; the guilty, the innocent, the pretenders and those who covered up! On the road, in the air and in the "safety" of homes, we are losing precious souls we need not lose. In the hospitals people who go to seek life get death. Those who bilk the funds meant for our hospitals fly abroad to pick jigger off their foot. They run to our hospitals only when they are fugitives from the law or when they want a five-star cell to serve their rap-on-the-wrist prison sentence!

Taking back the country

Gun totting vandals are sacking the country and we cannot even rely on those we gave our guns, uniforms and paid. The bad guys are after everybody. Tell me, who is safe in this country today? What does it take now to lose one's life in this country? Never, in all my life as a Nigerian, have I felt so helpless! Does the President have a clue how to take back this country from the bad guys? Oh, he has promised that 2013 will be better! We want empirical evidence.

Two weeks ago, 20 innocent primary school children were killed in a shooting in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. The horror reverberated from Newtown to Notre Dame, Paris. But in our own case, our leaders just jostle for space for their press releases, have photo ops and move on, even though on a daily average we have 40 Nigerians killed in different avoidable ways. At the Inter faith vigil on Sunday 16 December night at Newtown, an outraged President Obama warned: "We can't tolerate this anymore. Surely we can do better than this".

For how long shall we continue to live in denial? For how long shall we tolerate our current abject condition? Why are our politicians taking it for granted that nothing can give if we continue on this path? My favourite quote of the year is still the legend on one of the anti-fuel subsidy placards: One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich! Is it that we cannot do better than this? I have my fears! For whatever it is worth, hope you had a, well, Merry Christmas and, if possible, a happier New Year! Maybe we see one another alive in the New Year! If we don't, well...!

MTN and credit filching!

THIS has been going on for weeks now. My phone will be idle, and then a message from MTN informs me that my last session was XKB and the amount is something from N20 to N100! This, without my touching the phone! When I use the phone a similar message informs me of how many seconds I used it and the outrageous charge. But which one is this fraud measured in KiloBytes? Every day I lose between N200 and N500 of my credit.

A few people I have complained to have similar experience and they explain that such stealing happens when you load a lot of money, especially to take care of your BB. So many have resorted to not loading more than N200! How does that help MTN? It seems this credit robbery started when the NCC banned the networks from lotteries. So we cannot do without being ripped off in this country? MTN must explain this or return all my stolen credits.

Odemwingie and Nations Cup

PETER Osaze Odemwingie is one Nigerian footballer I really love the way I love Nwankwo Kanu. Odemwingie makes me watch West Brom. But honestly, I did not know that Odemwingie wanted to play at the final of African Cup of Nations coming up in South Africa later this month. His attitude during the qualifying matches did not suggest any interest. His recent ranting is, therefore, a surprise and a put off! From now on, the Super Eagles Coaches should insist that only those who show dedication during qualifying matches play in the finals of any competition!

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