This is the future profile page for BNW writer,
Farouk Martins. A more specific profile information and
The Silent Majority is Part of the Problem,
as they only say:
Most of us know that heaven only helps those who help themselves. One may then wonder why Nigerians start our academic diarrhea of the mouth with “the problem with Nigeria” and end with “only God can save Nigeria”.
Most of us cry for Nigerians' predicament but only some of us would want to die for
The silent majority may contribute less, but still, a problem. We live above our means – consume the best foreign products like wine, cheese, coke, cars, lace, toothpicks and others. Uncle Bens rice, Shagari and Jakande rice competed in our Country while our ofada rice was a luxury in other countires. My weakness was chocolate (I confess), until I rediscovered coconut cake, groundnuts mixed with corn, kushkush, gurudi, asala, kulikuli and coconut oil toffee. I refused to buy apple.
Staple food and other items in popular demand must be grown, cultivated and manufactured at home to prevent sabotage and blackmail. White flour is going out of style, it raises triglyceride level which is bad for the heart. Nutritionists are now asking people to use whole wheat, oats, rye, corn which are not very different from cassava, millet or cocoa for making bread.
I even got a tricky reason for importing used car parts - They are durable and better than the new ones made in Nigeria and other poor countries. I hear it every time - we export what we do not have and import what we have.
Until GSM, the law of economics hardly works in Nigeria. Popular product which should trigger production and create more jobs becomes more expensive. There was a period when the price of gari was higher than that of rice!
But we manufacture very little because of lack of demand. Some of the materials made in Nigeria have to be sent to Benin Republic and bought by Nigerians as foreign made. We are consumer of finished products and producer of raw materials. We pay more for canned food like sardine made outside Nigeria than we pay for fresh food. It’s funny though, lovers of canned sardine hated iced fish (oku Eko). And the joke about dead fowl eater versus live fowl eater. Our population demand should encourage high storage ability (NEPA!) and capacity. What raw materials does Japan have?
Nigerians have a way of passing blame on our leaders, and justifiable so. We have been very unfortunate with leadership in that Country. It is true that a country deserves the government they breed. It is not by accident that we produce bad leaders. They are products of our society. The police and all the armed forces are products of our society.
As the saying goes, when humans are pushed to the wall, they fight back. When Nigerians are pushed to the wall, they go through the wall! One of the most striving businesses in Nigeria today is propelled by those looking for salvation by any means. Some Nigerians build mosques and churches in their homes. They pray many times a day for forgiveness of previous sins. Get up and commit more sins only to come back and pray. This is how the vicious circle continues to dull their conscience.
Corruption and greed has eaten so deep into us, you can hardly find an angel amongst us. Sadly some Nigerians will tell you point blank that if they get there, they will “chop” too. Yet, this is one fight that can unite us across ethnic lines. We have tried various form of governments, created many states and invited people of “timber and caliber”, only to be moving backwards since Independence. The problem is not the constitution, it is the practice of it. Our problem is not the oil money, it is the distribution of it. Our problem is not the resources, it is turning it into final products for sale.
Corruption breeds domination, corruption breeds alienation, breeds nepotism and marginalization. We should look into ourselves, our tradition and culture for solutions, not at American or Europeans who were living in caves when Africans were teaching the Greeks, the Romans and the Middle East, civilized way of life. See Yoruba World Exploration and the Loss of Dynasties.
Nigerians lamented the loss of Murtala Mohammed, a man who dared Nigeria to change and was hailed. We wondered if Awolowo could have changed Nigeria the way he changed the West by getting the title of “the best President we never had”, only after his death. Some of us imagined how Nigeria could have been if “on Aburi we stand” prevailed or if Ojukwu had accepted the compromise.
NO SAINT WILL SAVE NIGERIA, only sinners like you and I who had enough of the mess, will save our Country. Once an angel gets immersed in Nigerian culture of greed and corruption, that angel becomes part of it. You find honorable men turned into kleptomania. Each time someone stands up to clean our society, others, like crabs in a barrel are ready to pull him down. There are those who use power to make indelible mark in their Countries. After many years or so, they call them saints and prophets and Nigerians who know nothing about them save the good deeds written about them in their community, start worshipping them. In Nigeria, we had our share, but we do not call them saints.
Murtala Mohamed was not a saint.
Awolowo was not a saint.
Ahmadu Bello was not a saint.
Azikiwe was not a saint.
Enahoro is not a saint.
Sam Mbakwe was not a saint.
They all got to a point where they decided enough was enough and decided to do something, in spite of their short comings. We all discriminate, if we loose that ability, we become mental. Those who generalize are in mental hospitals or may be treated as outpatients. So we all pick our friends, enemies, fights and our pleasures. The only way to rise above these failings in ourselves is to recognize them and make a conscious effort to rise above our limitations.
Those who seek equity must come with clean hands except in Nigeria culture of greed. Please come forward, expose those you stole with so that we can stop this vicious circle of poverty in the mist of plenty. Nigeria was a rich Country without oil, feeding the whole of West Africa. We abandon our productive land for oil knowing that no single raw material last for ever. How much gold do we have left in Ghana, the Gold Coast?
Nigerians have a way of intimidating those who want to stop the vicious circle of greed and corruption by daring them. Fear of their own exposure keeps them quiet. We also have a way of discouraging those who did not steal by asking them – what did you do for your village while in power? Those are queries by the silent majority. The silent majority praise crooks who donate money they know he never inherited. Favored Obas, Obis and Emirs honor them with any title they can create. Traditional history, protocol, and records become dim and fussy in favor of self aggrandizement based on novel theory.
If you dare proclaim perfect and clean record and dare anyone to expose you, they will find something for you to nurse. Ask about late Tai Solarin, ask Tom David West and others unknown and unsung heroes that only you know in your place of work. Nigerians have a way of making a sinner out of an angel. So forget about being an angel and reveal what you know.
Nkrumah warned us about the dangers of NEO-colonialism. It is worse than colonialism
Once upon a time, we railed about ten percent in bribe. “Inflation” has taken it to ninety percent. I hear about billions spent on projects in Nigeria, only the silent majority knows how much gets to the source. Until recently, money was shared between different levels of government in secrecy. The more local governments you have (not people), the more money you get. Delta regions were allocated more money than one or two bigger states because of the difficult terrain (whose money is it in the first place?), yet the silent majority can not see the benefits in that volatile part of our Country.
The mentality of those leaders that have that dreaded disease called kleptomania is that their family generation will never be poor again. How foolish. Some can not remember their account number or how many accounts they have, forfeiting money to foreign governments. Taking coal to New Castle now makes sense in Nigeria.
Their children spend themselves into drug houses, fast women and “fast cars/drivers that rest in pieces”. It was Fidel Castro who chided the Arabs for exchanging mirror for gold as the Africans did in the last couple of centuries. (Africans had mirrors used by religious priests.) Mirrors of today are imported foreign goods without substance.
Let us use the Southwest as an example. If the money spent on free education were stolen by a selected privilege few, where will the children of those who stole and those who did not be today? That investment is called seed money.
As for Obasanjo, most of us see different parts of an elephant. Before you call me a Yoruba man, you know that Obasanjo does not like to be associated with me or called an ethnic (tribal) leader. No matter what we think about him, he is a NIGERIAN almost to a fault. If you want to push his button, accuse him of securing a position for his kinsmen, may be in Finance or Police. Then watch the Nigerian come out of him.
Each time he makes a move to satisfy a part of the Country, he gets on the nerve of other parts. Off shore resources is a case in point. They hide and watch Obasanjo hang himself before coming out in their true color. It is only fair to ask ourselves how resources would have been shared or Odi Town stand off could have been resolved if we had the head of government from the South-south. It is the only region that has not produce a head of state. Pierre Trudeau from Quebec, Canada, declared emergency there.
Every Nigerian child should be able to dream of reaching the pinnacle of power. Awo could not have represented South-south the way that region wanted, Zik could not have represented the Yoruba as still being debated and Ahmadu Bello could not have represented the Ibo and be seen as reflecting the will and aspiration of that region.. It is only fair when Ibo, Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba are not seen as the only people in that Country. BUT anyone can represent the interest of Nigeria if everyone has a chance to fly to the sky as the limit.
Everyone who has been a manager may feel sorry for Obasanjo sometimes. Even a team leader, supervisor or a foreman may understand some of his problems. If you rule by consensus, at the end of the day, some of your managers or colleagues will loose once you make a decision. If some of them eventually disagree at some point, that does not mean you did not carry the majority. Anyway, Obasanjo should have stayed away from politics. I do not know what he forgot there, as he had told Gowon.
I do not think Obasanjo is a saint. He knows more than you and I, because he has been there for a long time. He knows the crooks and the silent majority. If he decides to expose and punish them, why can’t we support him? This cry about selective probe is disturbing. Is anyone closer to him than Afolabi? Who showed Tafa Balogun his way out in spite of all the rumors about blackmail? He can not take all of them on at the same time. The silent majority can support someone who decides that there is "no more business as usual". Murtala did, Buhari and Idiagbon did, but for how long? I must say though, that leaders must be kept on a short leash.
Audu Ogbeh is a man that can be trusted. I have always wondered why he decided to be in NPN and PDP. It amused me when he disconnected NPN electricity/phone for lack of payment. Mr. Akinloye, the NPN Chairman, was furious. The fact that he eventually fell apart with Obasanjo is not good for Nigeria. I saw some vulnerability in Obasanjo’s letter to Ogbeh. You too Brutus!
Both of them were comrades who honestly believe they can save Nigeria. I drafted a letter in my head for Obasanjo rejecting Audu resignation (as if he knew me from Adamu). Audu do not want to go down again. He did it with Shagari, enough!
Wada Nas may have been Abacha’s man but it is surprising how he saw Nigeria outside Abacha environment. He was a good example that you do not have to be a saint to save Nigeria. He would have been perfect as Abacha opposition leader. He was after all, one of the disciples of Aminu Kano, a perfect Nigerian, no, human, I must say.
So far, nobody has anything bad to say about Mrs Dora Akunyili. This lady is made of steel. I envy her mama (and papa).. We still have so many people like her in Nigeria but a few people will not let them shine. I pray that they do not pull her down. Even if they give her something to nurse, she will never be forgotten for her courage.
El Rufai scared me with that US dollar payment. No Nigerian should turn into mercenary in his or her own Country. How many people can they pay in US dollars if they can not pay salaries in naira? If you spend US dollar on salary for administrators, what percentage is left for what to administrate? This notion that only foreign trained experts can save Nigeria is nonsense. Salvation of that Country must be home brewed. El Rufai stood up to the Senate and got bloody, so what! He exposed how bribe is demanded. Nevertheless, I admire the tenacity El Rufai puts in his assignments.
Recently, World Bank boss or one of them apologized for misleading developing countries. As if that was the first time or that it was not a calculated plan. Ujama became a threat in Tanzania. How many of his African staff barked, confronted or contradicted their bosses or resigned or risked being fired? It is hard to find an African/black worth his or her salt that would not get into trouble with the boss on African/black issues in that part of the world.
It reminds me of that press conference between President Reagan and our great teacher, Mwalimu Nyerere. Reagan said if you teach a man to fish, he will feed forever… Nyerere answered that if an African farmer buys a tractor with a ton of cocoa in 1960, another tractor in 1970 for two tons of cocoa and the same tractor in another decade or so for three tons of cocoa. I can not remember the exact amount Nyerere quoted but the point was made. Africans are not lazy, we are drained.
My reason for bringing up some of these names is that it does not take an angel to save Nigeria. It takes sinners in Nigeria who want to redeem themselves and keep a legacy for the next generation. Even Tafa Balogun can save us from greed, with all that training.
OIL BUNKERING There is this admission by Nigeria that oil bunkering has been reduced from 70% to 40%. My, oh Nigeria! We have been hearing this theft of resource since the sixties. Can we imagine 70% of the major resources of any of those countries we usually refer to as models being stolen by conspirators. Here comes Nkrumah prediction of neo-colonialism again.
I do not have to be from one of the Delta States to cry why. This greed and corruption among our leaders including collaborators from Delta States will surely receive uncivilized sentence from those so called model countries.
How would you feel, as a cocoa, yam, fish or groundnuts farmer, if you found out that your son has been inflating his school fees and sharing half of your money, blood and sweat with the bursar?
Greed and corruption at high places at the expense of the people and their environment have been going on for so long as a minor theft. Yoruba has this proverb that “ti a ba sunkun, a o ma riran”.. In our grief, while crying, we do not become blind to big issues. But the best translation is to keep your eyes on the prize. I think this is the biggest achievement of the present Government.
Think, think about whose balls have been busted! The mighty and the powerful were in control of the resources while the silent majority wallows in poverty. The same people with enough stolen money to build illegal airports recently exposed. Some people do not even see this as a big deal. That news was just a flash! The biggest news is about GSM achievement. GSM my foot. Abiola and his cohort should have solved that, not a company from South Africa. Market women had GSM, to facilitate business, in Benin Republic well before us.
I expected so much from this Government that I became disappointed after a while. But fair is fair, who has the guts to retire all those army politicians, try those navy officers and retire two Inspector Generals of Police? I must confess that I did not appreciate the fact that Musiliu Smith, who was not corrupt, a bona fide Lagosian, was retired, (you see how I am part of the problem?). Now I heard you must have military experience to be a head of state. But I do not like many things the Government does.
CONSEQUENCES I have already mentioned that when Nigerians are backed to the wall, instead of fighting back, they enter that wall. Well, not all of us. Look at our young people. University students are now armed robbers. They will rather die of bullet fast than die of hunger slowly. Medical and law students are prostitutes on our streets. We cry about Nigerian prostitutes in foreign lands and 419 who perfect what they learn in foreign lands – “You could have won A Million Dollars”.
Little children without primary education selling on our streets. We argue about what state 419, prostitutes, children hawkers and armed robbers come from instead of thinking about what legacy we are leaving the next generation. Are they not Nigerians in need? Instead we fight about which tiny, mini states they come from, where every village or family head will soon become a Governor, at the rate states are being created. If 80%, of Government money goes to administrators, how much is left for silent majority for infrastructure? Sound economics dictate less than 20% to administrate any program.
Beautiful houses look like jail houses with iron bars where we hide from ourselves or the
BNW Advocates' Island
BNW Advocates' Island
Our boys and girls are dying trying to cross the Sahara desert to get to poor countries and may be, later to Europe and America only to become prostitutes and slaves. Those who have “made it” in Europe and America have become economic refugees in the snow, showering curses every morning on those who propagate greed and corruption in Nigeria. Come home to what? Steal, earn US dollars or start a business to be duped?
Do not listen to those who said you can not survive in Nigeria. You can sure take baby steps to Nigeria – start building a house to rest your head before the last hair turns gray. Or build to rent but take baby step today. Every journey starts with the first step. Housing industry is good business anywhere. Colin Powell called us a Country of schemers, was he wrong? He said it out of pain as a black man. Even when your mum wasted the (gburu) money you sent to complete your house on relatives. It happens. That does not mean that you should not find a way to prepare yourself for Nigeria. Government provides the conducive atmosphere; it is the people that create wealth.
Can you compare anything in those lands to original Iyan from real yam, lafu, Isi-ewu, Edikaikon, Tuwo demiyan with gbekiri and a cold oguro beer among your old friends, where everyone knows your name? Yes, sometimes we do not want to hear about Nigeria because it hurts so much. Please do not throw your passport away.
Ben Johnson was a perfect Canadian after he won a gold medal and became the fastest human. When he got caught with drug and was disqualified. He became a Jamaican. It is true that the Nigeria we know or left is the one we reminiscent about. The 25 years olds claimed they do not know of any time Nigeria has regular water or light. Someone even told me you can not find any civilized person living in Lagos (he don wohwoh, water pass gari). What about all these contributions people brag they made?