By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Like 200m other Nigerians, I simply cannot get my head around how this government has the time, energy and interest in pursuing critics at a time when it has a plethora of major socio-economic challenges facing it. I ask myself if some of those in the corridors of power actually think at all. Can any rational person faced with an annual $100bn infrastructure deficit, a meagre gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of just 1.9% a year while the population is increasing at a rate of 2.6% really have the time for social critics?
(2) Only this week, the international ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook on Nigeria to negative from stable because of sluggish economic growth. According to Moody’s, Nigerian government revenue is not increasing, so the country will have no option but to keep borrowing. It added that this will soon make the debt-to-GDP ratio untenable and unsustainable
(3) Of our 36 states, only Lagos is self-sustaining and can survive without oil income. All the other 35 states are wholly dependent on federal handouts to survive. If this life support known as federal allocation is switched off, all these states will just crumble like a pack of cards
(4) As we speak, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world, the open defecation capital of the world, the out-of-school capital of the world and the polio capital of the world. In all these areas, we embarrassingly top the global charts
(5) As if that is not enough, insecurity is scaring away investors by the day. Boko Haram and Fulani cattle herdsmen are running riot across the country while kidnappers are having a field day
(6) We only generate about 7,000MW of power, of which about 4,000MW is delivered. We need at least four mega hydro-electric plants to bring generated output to around 20,000MW and we have not yet figured out how to make our privatised distribution and transmission companies effective. Many of them are heavily indebted, lack the access to capital to invest in equipment and the sector has struggled to attract international investors
(7) When it comes to transport, we are sitting on a mega time bomb. Lagos has a population of 22m and does not have a tube or metro network. Shanghai has a similar population and it has an urban metro with 413 stations used by 10m people every day. Their Maglev train which connects the city with the airport runs at a speed of 431km an hour. It is a magnetic levitation train that does not have wheels or an engine. Are we blind to all this????
(8) Look at our port debacle. We only have one functioning sea port despite having 853km of coastline. How to dredge Warri, Forcados, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Ikot-Abasi has surely got to be something that keeps our ministers up every night. How do they sleep soundly with such problems plaguing the nation and no programme to resolve them on sight?
(9) Were I in government I would not even have the time to notice that the likes of Omoyele Sowore and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky exist, yet alone find the time to order their arrests. This government simply has too much on its plate to be bothered about what it’s so-called enemies, both real and imaginary are doing
(10) Who remembers the phrase: “Nero is dancing while Rome is burning?” Is it just me but surely it would have made more sense to deploy those heavily armed DSS men to Sambisa Forest or against murderous herdsmen than to the federal high court in Abuja where a totally civilised legal sitting was taking place. Is this paranoia or what because it totally blows my head away. If the government is so bothered about Sowore’s propaganda, why not take him on in a series of public debates? Even the Nazi’s were not this paranoid. Joseph Goebbels made his name taking on hecklers and beating them with his charisma. Is there nobody this government can deploy to engage its critics intellectually? I am astounded at the level of intellectual laziness we are faced with in Nigeria. I am not sure who is the greater culprit, the paranoid government or its sycophantic praise singers