Desperate times call for desperate measures and this is ever more evident as ordinary Nigerians have resorted to all and any means of eking out a living. Some collect bribes at airport and check points and it is only a matter of time before the men in uniform begin to issue receipts for bribes. Some computer literate or 'computerate' Nigerians (who are digital relatives of Mobuto and Charles Taylor) spend days and nights in cybercafйs, composing and propagating emails that contain road-maps to the whereabouts of some hidden family loot. I guess that some of them succeed in luring unsuspecting (and greedy) foreigners to part with some dollars; because, I can tell you, not every Nigerian in Diaspora (NID) will identify himself as a Nigerian in certain social circles or gatherings abroad. You won't get beaten up or heckled, but the looks you get say it all. Other Nigerians at home, many of them highly educated ones, have resorted to quicker techniques of getting cash, but no, not at the cashier's counter they hijack the entire bank bullion van; driver, cops and all! It is only a matter of time before some desperadoes/robbers takeover the premises of a bank permanently; or list a bank as an office address on their complimentary cards. Additionally, quite a number of jobless Nigerians (along with other nationals of West Africa) have taken and continue to take- the leap of faith into the Sahara desert, en route to Europe. Many of them never make it across. The sand dunes of Niger Republic , Libya and Morocco are dotted with the bleached skeletons of some long-lost Nigerian.
Desperate times, indeed. Some desperadoes of the Delta Order frequently kidnap anything and anyone whose skin is light-enough in complexion and who works for (or is found around the premises of) Shell, Mobil, Chevron and maybe even Conoil. This includes and is not limited to:- (a) oyibos, (b) albinos and (c) regular user's of bleaching cream. It is no wonder that in Port Harcourt of today, light skinned people never venture out in the day time for fear of being kidnapped, man-napped and/or even baby-napped. Other politically-conscious desperadoes in our economic malaise prefer to kidnap relatives of politicians and lawmakers in exchange for ransom; and in fact,it is so bad in Nigeria today that someone has even gone to the extent of kidnapping himself. Oh yes see Punch of Sat. June 14th 2008 for details. The man in question, Mr. Denis Onah, was reported to have jumped into a public Well in Abuja, with (as lawyers say) the unlawful intent of isolating himself against his own free-will); and he then demanded that the ransom of 100,000 Naira (in unmarked unadulterated notes, without two corresponding serial numbers) be paid by the President Yar'Adua of Nigeria, who must deposit the money into the well. Otherwise, and hmmm !!!, he would not come out o! (i.e. would not release himself from his own custody to be reunited with the comforting and loving arm of himself and his anxious family). Instead, he would rather kill himself o, thereby depriving himself from himself, and also depriving the country of one more honest tax-paying citizen. He threatened and threatened. His tactics didn't quite work out the way he planned and he is today undergoing treatment and inquiry by psychiatrists and the Police, respectively. But they say there is a fine line between ingenuity and insanity. So instead of harassing this man and poking him with needles and police batons, he should be praised and recognized for his bravery and intellectual acumen. I suggest he should be included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to kidnap himself. Also, he should hold the international Patent/License to collect ALL royalties for Self-Kidnapping via any technique including Well-confinement, or any other mode of self-isolation for the purpose of self-enrichment and poverty eradication. However, my main concern to his mentality and game plan is why he was so cheap in his ransom. He should have demanded for 4 Million Naira or better still, he should have demanded for 4 Million Mega Watts of electric Power. Do not laugh, please. That man has probably not eaten for 7 days consecutively because his barbing saloon or welding shop had no electric power to operate. Or do you think it is easy for you to plan and then successfully kidnap yourself? Try it and let's see.
It is only a matter of time, before many more Nigerians begin to hold Yar'Adua to ransom. Oh, yes, accountability to the common man from our leaders has begun to take a new dimension in Nigeria , and we have Mr. Denis Onah to thank for that. Very soon, people will begin to dangle themselves on high-tension electric cables and demand that stable electric Power be supplied to every home, business and factory before they come down. We may begin to see people climbing Zuma Rock and threatening to fling themselves down unless their lives and property are safeguarded. In honor of the inventor of this technique Mr. Denis Onah, we may call it 'Onahpping', instead of 'Kidnapping'. Some people may even stretch the process just a little bit further. We may begin to see members of ASUU kidnapping themselves at knife or gun-point, in exchange for better package for tertiary institutions; equipment funds, research grants, better salaries and other benefits, as and when due. Primary and secondary school teachers may also consider this option. Criminals and hoodlums could also kidnap themselves and go on strike (and thereby
rendering the Nigeria Police jobless and redundant) unless Yar'Adua does something about the chronic employment and excruciating poverty that grinds sanity out of people's head.
Seriously, why President Yar'Adua has not yet declared a state of emergency in the Power (and every other) sector of our economy remains a mystery that defies common sense and logic. But then, no one in his right mind applies the rubrics of commonsense to Nigeria because it is a nation that defies logic and any known theories of economics and politics. In addition to his personal failings, former president Obasanjo has been guilty of surrounding himself with sycophantic morons of the corrupt order; who wanted everything and anything to be done anyway and anyhow right now! So, those who accuse Yar'Adua of being too slow or taking too much time, should consider that maybe he is just taking precaution. Therefore, could it be that Yar'Adua is actually suffering from Precautionesia and not just a reaction to Malaria; as we are being told. It makes sense to approach issues affecting 150 million citizens with precaution. However, it is known by practitioners and followers of the medical profession that at the point of death, many desperate and clinically approved measures and risks MUST be taken. A Nigerian has kidnapped himself, so how much more desperation is required from the masses? Self-inflicted Holocaust? We cannot afford the luxury of prolonged precaution. So Mr. President, you NEED TO act fast in order to make a difference.
The main difference Yar'Adua can bring to Nigeria right now is to ACT quickly on key issues that are inimical to our progress. Let us dump all these 'yeye' Vision 2010, 2015, 2020 and 20-whatever. The days of Visions are over and 'hungry man no get time for vision'. We need Action 20-Now. How? The consolidation of banks seemed to have done some good, so maybe we need to consolidate some low-priority Ministries and elevate other Ministries to Core Economic Sectors for Rapid National Development, (COESRAND). For example, if only Yar'Adua can focus on tackling three major aspects of our national well-being which are: (a) ELECTRIC Power, (b) Security and (c) Transportation, then he will go down in history as a contemporary savior of Nigeria's decline. I intentionally typed 'ELECTRIC' in Capital letters and underlined it in the last sentence because I fear that sometimes, when we talk about need for stable Power, some idiotic and useless political advisor to Yar'adua may misconstrue our request to mean political Power; hence, the emphasis and clarification. People have been cursing Obasanjo for wanting a third term. Well, we asked him for more power, for more stable and sufficient power but we were not specific enough to make him understand the TYPE of POWER we wanted. How else can you blame him for the misunderstanding? After all we know he started a degree program only AFTER he was squeezed out of Aso Rock. Reports have it that Yar'Adua is a degree holder, but there may be some advisors around him who are drop-outs so let us clarify our demands as much as possible before the song for power elongation gets louder.
Now, where was I? Yes, like I was saying, Yar'Adua should IF NECESSARY; demote every other Ministry to a sub-Ministry for the next 3 years so that Nigerians have only three major Ministries or Core Sectors that we can ALL concentrate on fixing, until the next elections. These three key Sectors or Ministries will definitely have a domino effect on the other aspects of lives. These are: (1) The Ministry of ELECTRIC Power, (2) The Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs as well as (3) The Ministry of Transportation. Alternatively, he could also urgently ask the Federal Law Makers to approve an emergency law for the immediate takeover of these three Ministries by the Presidency. Solving Nigeria 's problem may just require simple but creative solutions. It is either the affected core Ministries are all relocated to Aso Rock, or Aso Rock must relocate itself to these Ministries in the Federal Secretariat or wherever. Like I said earlier, the patient dog would starve in Nigeria of today. So likewise the other proverb says: 'If Muhammed won't go to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Muhammed'. In Nigeria, that Mountain MUST RUN to Muhammed, sharp-sharp. If these three core sectors of our economy can be tackled and solved, then all other things will fall into place with minimal effort. No amount of NEEDS or SEEDS or poverty-alleviation program will work without these sectors performing well. How else can one alleviate or eliminate poverty if there is no electric Power? When and where has that kind of miracle being done apart from during the Stone Age? How else can you attract and retain foreign investment or boost local productivity without electric Power, Effective Transportation and Reliable Security? The entire Nigerian Federation, with all its so-called might and glory cannot generate as much electric power as a tiny place called Jubail Industrial City of Saudi Arabia . What kind of development strategy do our leaders have in place by the way? Every one of them has a manifesto, but no one has an actual detailed and prioritized action-plan (complete with financial, social and cultural variables) for actualizing the manifesto before we even talk of sustaining and improving on growth. These are the same manifestoes by the way, that have been circulated since the time of Tafawa Balewa i.e. electricity, good roads, safety of life and property. Other nations are developing digital manifestoes for the digital age, but we have not even actualized the analog and the most basic aspects of our economy. The truth is, we are still wallowing in the lowest level of Maslow's Hierachy of Needs. And we say we are a nation that wants to be amongst the worlds 20 biggest economy by the year 2020. (I can hear laughter in the background from Indians, Malaysians and Koreans). Na mouth? We can't even compete with ordinary Ghana when it comes to electricity. Look, I better conclude this write up now, because I am beginning to get REALLY angry and if I don't stop right now, the webmasters will not publish the concoction brewing in my head.
As I conclude this article, the price of crude oils has tripled over the estimate that was used to formulate our current budget. I am not an economist, but let mepredict that IF we do not declare that emergency NOW, the extra income won't make adifference by this time next year or the year after next. Already, tons of dollarsare being stashed on Nigeria 's behalf in foreign reserves for the rainy day&Chineke-God, which kind rainy day be dat? There is fire in the land and we are saving for rainy day. Quietly and obediently, many Nigerians are chewing the cud of time, waiting patiently for poverty to be declared a Persona non grata. I am not sure it will happen in my lifetime. Many men have resorted to skin-cut, while women are rediscovering the beauty of plaited hair not because they don't like elaborate hairstyles, but where is the power for the saloons to operate? In many homes, the Kenwood Electric Iron has given way to Charcoal Iron. Many laundry businesses have closed shop. Market women that used to blend/grind tomatoes with mechanical machines now use mortar and pestle this is the year 2008 and not 1908. Imagine the income and revenue being lost. Electric welders are undergoing career change and many have metamorphosed into carpenters and water-pushers. Business Centers now charge NEPA-based services and Generator-based services. The most profitable business now is to sell electric power generators and many a Nigerian has his own private NEPA in his backyard. It has become a thing of pride for some people to 'show-off' their Gen-set, whenever NEPA strikes.. Besides many generator owners do not even know about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) and other effluents of combustion until years down the line when many of us will be diagnosed with cancerous and lung-infested diseases, that's when people will shout "&but I don't smoke.." Our kids may become slower in learning and have shorter life-span than we already have because CO is a very silent killer. When it doesn't kill, it destroys brain cells, oh yes. Those effluents of combustion may not harm you immediately, but there is something called time-weighted average exposure, which simply means, it is the exposure over a long time that can harm you. It is the dose that makes the poison. Meanwhile, our goats and chickens that don't care much for NEPA or Security are busy filling their stomachs with Unidentified Swallow-able Objects.
President Yar'Adua, please declare the EMERGENCY NOW and focus on the core sectors of development for a 3-year rolling plan. You cannot solve Nigeria 's entire problems and you don't have all the time in the world to do so; and anyone who tells you that you can, should be tried for treason. Prioritize our needs and then ACT NOW before we all kidnap ourselves”.