Omotola’s Hellish Comment: When the truth has no substitute
If Nigerians look closely with an open mind, they will have no option than to agree with Omotola’s ‘hellish’ description, unless they are blinded by partisanship or choose to live in denial.
In the beginning, the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari easily traded blame for its lapses but surprisingly, took full credit for any noticeable progress even when the progress was set in motion by the previous administration as seen in the ongoing rail projects in the country. When the economy slipped into recession, it was the previous administration that should be blamed but when power supply improved for few weeks, it’s as a result of ‘body language’.
That was the initial pattern usually adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari and his lieutenants while addressing national issues but that has graduated to outright denials or in some cases, trying to twist the truth. But nearly four years in the saddle, the truth is becoming too hard to twist or deny as it has no substitute.
The Hellish comment
Just over two weeks ago, a prominent Nigerian actress who has contributed in no small means to the Nollywood film industry, one of our largest non-oil exports and the third largest film industry in the world, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, took a broader look at the situation of Nigerians under this current government and aptly concluded that it is “Hellish”. The Nollywood veteran took to her Twitter handle @Realomosexy to state that
“The Country (Nigeria) under your watch is Hellish! @ProfOsinbajo @MBuhari @NGRPresident The lack of Money in circulation, Now coupled with the Continuous Assault n Killings by Uniformed men’ll make this Country implode!!!It’s Unbearable! Do something! Insecurity! Fear n Desperation everywhere.”
But as usual, the Presidency threw everything off the path of truth and tried to shut down the bold voice that showed genuine concern to the plight of Nigerians. They however, made a mistake because Omotola isn’t the only one who felt that way about the current situation in the country but merely echoed what millions of Nigerians feel.
In recent weeks, the federal government bogus claims to “change” in the state of our economy, national security, fight against corruption, unemployment, infrastructural upgrade and condition of living, have been crumbling like a pack of cards thereby fuelling unending questions from citizens. From social media platforms to gatherings, Nigerians often times scrutinized claims made by the Buhari government and pointed out that they are mostly inaccurate or exaggerated– which has prompted increasing concerns on the government’s precept to the truth.
Nigerians no longer need a state broadcast or press statement to gauge progress made by the government. They can see with their eyes, if they choose to, if their roads are better off or if the education sector has gotten better funding despite the continuous cries of stakeholders in the sector.
The truth is, we are not making the right progress and Nigerians have been at the receiving end of whatever consequences resulted from it. From inadequate access to quality healthcare, defective education system, sluggish economy to rising insecurity challenges, nothing could capture the deplorable condition facing Nigerians more than ‘hellish’.
According to The English Dictionary, HELLISH can simply mean “Causing pain, discomfort and distress”. And if the plight of Nigerians would be put in the right perspective, then, Omotola’s conclusion that it’s ‘hellish’ under the current government cannot be anything but the truth. No matter which direction you examine the current situation of Nigerians from, you’ll hardly disagree with the actress’s description.
For instance, Nigeria economy showed sluggish pace since it emerged from recession and causing untold hardship on citizens. For quite some time, the shabby trajectory of the economy has pressured businesses to shut down. According to a Punch Newspaper report on the 24th of August 2016, it quoted the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria as saying that 272 firms shut down in one year of the Buhari administration. This, among other businesses that have closed shop in subsequent years have reduced the country’s FDI portfolios thereby limiting opportunities. Assurances that the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) will reshape the economy for the better remain largely to be seen as biting hunger has left many in distressed situation.
But that is not all. Unemployment have skyrocketed. Millions of able, skilled and qualified Nigerians could not find jobs while those with Jobs are losing theirs and in turn, struggling to provide for themselves and in some cases, families. Figures from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) isn’t encouraging as the number of those who either lost their jobs or could not get one under Buhari government, hovers around 21 million.
Multitude of youths have seen their ambitions shattered and talents left to rot. Many willing to explore their potentials are left with no gainful engagements and I wonder if this isn’t ‘hellish’, what would it be? Just last year, a report by the Brookings Institute, put the number of Nigerians battling acute poverty at 87 million, overthrowing India as the capital of world poverty. They can also see rising interest rates, rising debt and forecast for slower growths.
Under Buhari, Nigeria’s debt stock keep piling, yet its utilization has made no reasonable impact on citizen’s well-being. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), total external and internal debt stood at N24.387 trillion in 2018, yet, infrastructures remain in deplorable conditions. Epileptic power supply remains a regular occurrence such that last year Democracy Day broadcast by President Buhari that “Nigerians from all parts of the country now reports better supply of power and less use of generators” is nothing but a hoax.
Most Nigerians who didn’t fall into the 60m that spent nearly N2trn yearly to maintain generators, know better what ‘hellish’ meant, considering the heatwave currently being experienced in the country. Currently, our hospitals which were no less a consulting room are now in a state of emergency as we keep losing our inadequate medical officers to foreign country while citizens die of treatable illness like malaria or typhoid, either due to lack of money for medicine, or shortage of medical personnel, who have mostly fled Nigeria in drove to advance their practice abroad.
Nigeria is in shambles and struggling to survive the glaring failures of the last four years. But while those failures put Nigeria in an awkward situation, the consistent brutalization of citizens by Police has heightened the pains and discomfort of Nigerians. The Nigerian Police Force notoriety for harassing and illegally extorting citizens have reached a disturbing length, stirring increasing demand for a thorough reform of the security agency to conform with their core responsibility of securing Nigerians.
In recent times, Police have gruesomely murdered Nigerians, without any justification. The story of Kolade Johnson is a sad pointer to the dangerous trend that reverberates in our land. As I opined in an article to condemn his brutal killing and joined the call for #EndPoliceBrutality for citizens safety, I contended that “Kolade Johnson did not deserve to die but the brazen impunity of SARS personnel (a Police unit) have denied Nigeria a promising and talented soul. He wasn’t a criminal just as many others who have suffered similar unfortunate fate in the hands of trigger-happy policemen who have thrown their families and loved ones into grief.”
This is different from the various security challenges in most part of the country which has made even roads in some parts of the country unsafe as seen in the Kaduna-Abuja expressway endless abductions. If Nigerians look closely with an open mind, they will have no option than to agree with Omotola’s ‘hellish’ description, unless they are blinded by partisanship or choose to live in denial.
A 20th century popular American singer, Elvis Presley, said “Truth is like a sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it isn’t going away,” and rightly so, officials of the presidency and their supporters launching a personal attack at Omotola for courageously speaking on the ills in our society left it late as it can’t take away the truth. Deception and trading blame can barely confuse the people anymore because no matter the advocate, the truth is still the truth.