When you are bullied by reality to accept anomalies as norm, you will begin to blur the distinction. In Nigeria today, we have become used to the fuel scarcity situation – spending 30 minutes on a fuel queue is now a blessing, a blessing we testify about in church services. While speaking to a foreign friend of mine, I explained that I was distracted from her phone call as I was on a rowdy fuel queue, and as such, I needed to ensure my slot was not taken. “…A fuel queue?” She genuinely asked for clarification. It was at this moment that it struck me. It struck me that the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world is presently unable to provide refined fuel to its citizens. At this point, the irony of it all dawned again on me – this is not a fictional irony but the reality in Nigeria presently.
President Buhari came riding in on a change mantra. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been one of those to critique the snail pace of this present administration. Despite my criticisms of the Federal Government’s response to this malaise, it will be largely unfair to lay the blame exclusively on this administration. For so long, Nigeria failed to invest in refineries and this directly caused the present hardship. In fact I agree with those who hail this administration for approaching the fuel situation with a long-term viewpoint/approach rather than a short term one. However, the question has never been one of fuel queues alone – this is merely a symptom. The problem is much larger. The problem is the rot in several aspects of Nigeria, from finance to technology, from medicine to agriculture, from manufacturing to trade – we are not where we are capable of being because of successive failures in addressing the underlying issues. This is the problem.
In light of the problem, it is highly patronizing for the opposition, PDP, to demonize the present government for the issues we presently face. Should anyone be demonized, it should be a combination of our recent leadership as a nation. How do you explain a party that spent 16 years in power without significantly increasing our refining capacity, now calling a year old government clueless?
I have argued severally that what Nigeria needs, in order to move forward, is a vibrant opposition that keeps the government on its toes. Granted, the present government is moving much slower than the pace at which the problems are mounting, nevertheless, the duty is not to mindlessly criticize, but to propose credible alternatives in critique. As it stands, the APC government is governing without any respectable opposition to assess their policies by. The PDP has shown itself to be petty in their critique – a sad reality for our democracy.
Young people: in light of this, it is clear that there is a gap. We need to seize and define the narrative. This time, we are not moving along party lines, but along Nigeria’s lines. We need to dictate sensible policy directions on sectors of the economy that are being mismanaged we think are being mismanaged and represent quality views that will not only be listened to but will be respected by the government, by the people, and in history.
For now, I really should get back to that fuel queue.