By Adeola Aderounmu
In 1989 when I was at my final year of secondary school at Festac Grammar School in Lagos, I made a “senior uniform” for less than N100. So what has happened to making a pair of trousers for N52?
In February 2008 I asked a similar question: What happened To One Cup Of Rice At 30 Kobo? Six years on, Nigeria continues to sail precariously on stormy waters. Nigerians have never had it so bad and so hopeless. Any iota of hope that anyone kept until last week was vehemently quenched by the NIS recruitment tragedy. The tragedy was not only in the reported deaths but also from the evidential representation of the reality that the lame government and government follow-follow group try to hide or deny time and time again.
Festac Grammar School Prefects, 1989 set. (sitting 2nd from left: Adeola Aderounmu ca 1988)
In 1989 I could buy a chinos material for N35 and pay the tailor N17 for workmanship. With N50 it was actually possible to make a pair of trousers cut from other types of materials. So depending on the material of your choice, you could keep a balance that can be used for sundries.
It was not easy even back then to scoop or save up the N50. I was probably one of those who made their uniforms quite late during my senior high. Some students were radicals anyway. They didn’t really care about the pair of trousers. I was not a complete radical in that sense; we just had a dwindling middle-class family situation in Nigeria and some of us had to source some of the funds to get the things we needed.
My time stretch without the senior outfits was made even longer when I accidentally applied a very hot pressing iron on my pair of trousers on the night after I made the collection from the tailor. I could not cry. My mother who was also a tailor cum trader had to apply her creativity. My pair of shiny trousers became an adapted “baggy” short.
Ten years after my struggle to represent as a senior student and 4 years after l first became a university graduate, civilian government returned to Nigeria. The hope that was quenched earlier in 1993 when the military gangsters headed by one notorious General Babangida cancelled Nigeria’s most peaceful, free and fair elections was slightly rekindled when General Obasanjo was bundled into power in 1999.
In 2014 Nigeria’s self-styled democracy has proven to be a sham and an undesirable representation of the intelligence of the black race. Year after year since 1999, or more correctly since 1960 the rulers of Nigeria have systematically plunged Nigeria into crises that have deepened with time.
Under a presidency popular referred to as clueless and headed by Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria nears the brink. After years of neglect and maladministration in Northern Nigeria, terrorism (alleged to be both politically sponsored and religiously motivated) was set off. In general, insecurity in Nigeria has now reached a new frightening level. The dimension is unprecedented. Nigeria wallows in the doldrums. Resiliency is an overused word in Nigeria because an objective measurement of depression level will bend or break the threshold mark.
Nigerian rulers have always failed to fight corruption. They have always failed to lead, they preferred to rule. Under Goodluck Jonathan, corruption was redefined. Even when it is too obvious, this lame administration just failed to act. In different ways and under different manifestations the rulership of Goodluck Jonathan may go down as one of the most corrupt in the history of Africa.
On the surface of earth you will not find a similar act of tolerance to a combination of impunity, corruption and ineptitude. Nigeria remains the most openly corrupt country in the world and an utter disgrace to the dreams of the black race on earth. One week ago, the dreams of some young and old applicants were crushed. People were killed both physically and mentally in broad daylight under the watch of Nigerian rulers. That was a micro representation of the daily but larger pictures hidden across Nigeria.
What do you expect from a pair of trousers that cost N52 in 1989? Despite the declining fortunes of Nigeria at that time, it was still a period of time when workers who earned N2000 are considered “well-paid”. But when political madness goes unabated from a time when a politician or public servant can loot N1 million to this time when it is fine to steal USD 20b or more, it is only imperative that N52 cannot be adequate to buy a decent meal or snacks!
ln 2014 Nigerian politicians have realigned themselves along several blocks. The clear lack of ideology was expanded. You could move from APC to PDP or from PDP to APC depending on if the presidency was on your trail or on your side. It became even more obvious that the interest of the ordinary Nigerian does not exist in the political agenda of these greedy and corrupt lots.
As early as 2013, two clear years before new general elections, Nigeria stood still. Large sums of money continue to disappear from the local, state and federal treasuries as Nigerian politicians continue to loot and pile up funds for the 2015 elections. I have never seen a country so “silly” and so “ridiculously corrupt”.
In Nigeria saints have become devils. You will almost not be able to point at one honest politician or public servant regardless of their track records before they became part of the insane Nigerian method of governance. Once you’re in, your mindset changes and you become part of the people destroying Nigeria. Something is wrong inside of government I am sure.
Federal financial Institutions in Nigeria like the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance for examples have shown executive recklessness and harbour channels or leakages that make ordinary Nigerians impoverished. The misdemeanours of the Ministry of Finance in Nigeria are a disgrace to the whole of Africa. If you extend the scrutiny of official recklessness to NNPC you will be shocked that in Nigeria there is no campaign to arrest, detain and prosecute all the rulers and thieves in public institutions. No greater doom!
Why these public officers are still called politicians, ministers and so on remain another food for thought on the nature of law enforcement in Nigeria. For law and order in Nigeria, I suspect what I’ll define as Hidden Mental Handicap Syndrome (HM-HS). It’s an incapacitation of both the police and the judiciary as federal institutions in a country characterised by absolute systemic failure. It’s pure nonsense that some people are above the law! Why scrap history from the education curriculum in Nigeria? Our laws are not working; let’s scrap both the law schools and police colleges instead! Oh, I forgot, you don’t throw the dead baby and the water at the same time!
I know why I can’t make my pair of trousers for N52 today. It’s the same reason I cannot buy a cup of rice at 30 kobo. It’s the same bloody reason why millions of people in Nigeria are living below the poverty level, struggling to stretch hands to mouths. Some of the world’s poorest people are found in Nigeria. This is more than a shame. It’s a scandal on the intellectual capacity of the Nigerian people.
No single person, ministry or institution in Nigeria will admit that it is responsible for this tragedy of the hopelessness that pervade in Nigeria. It is this hopelessness that led several thousands of applicants across Nigeria to seeking jobs meant for a few hundred positions. In the end it turned out that the recruitment exercise like many things in Nigeria was also a scam.
People were ripped and people were killed, all in the name of executive recklessness. And life goes on as if nothing has happened. When billions of naira or dollars are stolen from the Nigerian treasury, life goes on as well as if nothing had happened! The money that had disappeared in Nigeria in the past few months is large enough to cripple the European economy! It may wipe Greece and Italy off the map of Europe.
The people who misruled and mismanaged Nigeria will not see why I can no longer make a pair of trousers for 52 naira because for some reasons they cannot comprehend the cumulative and negative synergic effects of their combined ineptitude, corruption and sometimes outright stupidity of job neglect.
The domino effect of half a century of misrule is huge. Today it will cost me about N2000 or more to make a pair of trousers of chinos material. The cost of living is high while the quality is extremely low. Nigeria is like a sinking ship, a place where almost no value is placed on human lives. Infrastructure developments are inadequate or non-existent in many places. Electricity remains at an evolutionary dead end in Nigeria. Many roads are bad and public schools have become relics. Security is zero and other vices are on the rampage daily. Such deprivations depict the sufferings of ordinary Nigerians.
In several ways public administration in Nigeria is similar to committing crimes against humanity. Nigerians hear of federal, state and local budgets every year. They know that the monies disappear in private accounts across Nigeria and worldwide. It goes largely unpunished in Nigeria because from the presidency to the local council, criminals hold sway.
In Nigeria you can steal USD 12m and walk free. You can be a murderer and get a presidential pardon. You can steal N225m and smile like a princess. You can buy 12 presidential jets and ask for more. You make Oliver Twist become an unlikely fairy tale hero by redefining greed and in-satiation. You can feed yourself with N1b of tax payers’ money. There is no limit to the extent of recklessness-everything appears lawless.
In Nigeria, you can be terrorist and own houses in Abuja and in other countries. As a clever media-smart writer you can blog or own a twitter account for billions of naira reward from government officials including the presidency. In Nigeria, pardoned and unpardoned ex-convicts and looters are free to roam again to repeat their madness-loot, kille or cart away. They win election and nomination every voting season.
You can even be a both a murderer and a looter today and a self-made saint tomorrow. Myopism is one of Nigeria’s greatest weaknesses. The other sources of weaknesses are of course religion, tribalism and a law enforcement system that is a complete joke. In Nigeria anything is possible to keep the status quo that promote evil and oppress the majority. The law is meaningless and aimed to punish petty thieves and the less privileged in the society.
One constant concern is also the people who want us to forget about highlighting the problems with Nigeria. They want us to proffer the solutions to the problems of Nigeria. Too easy! Just take a peep in the campaign speeches of each and every one of the major politicians in Nigeria. Take Jonathan for example and his “I have no shoes campaign of 2010”. With the exception of establishing true federalism in Nigeria the other solutions to Nigeria’s problems are contained in his campaign speeches. If Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign was his blueprint, Nigeria will be a paradise by now! What we need to take away is the madness that usually overtakes these souls once they get into offices.
Everything that has a beginning must have an end. One day monkey go go market e no go return . Imagine if the NIS recruitment exercise snowballed into a mass revolution. The national conference will be abandoned and a new re-awakening would have emerged in record time. Under such a rebirth there will be hope that through empowerment I will be able to afford a new pair of trousers again.