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THE HAZARDOUS SIDE OF BEING A NIGERIAN By: Augustine Omilo

Jun 5, 2023

THE HAZARDOUS SIDE OF BEING A NIGERIAN
By: Augustine Omilo

As far as freedom of expression, right to choice of life style and association amongst others are concerned Nigeria is among the best countries in the world. One can choose to be a politician without any form of ideology in mind. Business men and women have field day in the choice of prizes at which their products are sold. And this may mean selling the same product at ten different prizes in the same environment. The political system permits individuals to belong to as many political parties as he likes within a given administrative cycle.

A Nigerian can present himself as a business man or woman in any forum without being specific. People will believe him, so long as he has enough cash to ostentatiously display in his community outings. No questions on how he makes the money or the location of his office! If the businessman is smart enough, he can become the representative of his people anywhere the roll call of important personalities are made. Many people in this category often end up as traditional chiefs in their localities even if their businesses are criminal in nature.

Money remains one of the most cherished tools in the hands of man. Even though its functions according to economic experts is limited to about four – store of value, standard for deferred payments, measure of value and measure of exchange, its functions in Nigeria include the intimidation of the poor with impunity and without qualms.

The country harbours people who are at liberty to fortify their ages in order to remain in government service and yet participate in the fight against corruption freely.

By merely being a clerk on government salary grade level 4 in juicy offices like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), a young Nigerian can become richer than his entire community with everybody bowing down for him.

Taking oath of office means little or nothing for a typical Nigerian who gets into public office. He can function without accounting for his stewardship.

However, free as the citizens are to conduct themselves in the manners they so choose, there are many unpleasant occurrences in the country that represent the hazards of being identified with citizenship of the country. Frustrated as anyone may be, he cannot just choose to leave the country. He needs an international passport. This commodity is not cheap even though its possession is supposed to be the entitlement of all citizens. The result is that only the rich can easily lay hands on one.

Those who choose to remain in the country and contribute to her development, especially entrepreneurs hardly have access to credit facilities from financial institutions. The ones who succeed do so at very high interest rate (about 20%). This is often in addition to multiple taxations this group of persons is subjected to. For example, non alcoholic beverages attract N10 exercise duty in addition to 7.5% value-added tax (VAT). The result of this is frustration among small and medium scale entrepreneurs.

Young people can enroll to study in Nigerian universities for four-year courses but end up spending seven years for reasons outside their control. Poor education, not only negatively impact on the lives of the so-called educated, but also endangers the economy and social atmosphere of the society.

Though the country’s constitution provides for security of lives and properties as the primary aim of governance, there is hardly any Nigerian that sleeps with two eyes closed. Boko haram insurgency, banditry, unknown gun men activities and kidnapping have become the order of the day.

Health care services are nothing to write home about. Drugs are expensive. Medical doctors are inadequate. Many good ones among them have left the nation’s shores in search of greener pastures abroad. Those who can afford it, spend the country’s hard earned foreign currency on medical trips in choice countries like the U.K, USA, Canada, India and China. The world health organization’s record shows that over 50m people in the country have mental health challenges. This is occasioned by economic depression.

The Cost of living is so high that the income of the ordinary citizens cannot sustain it. Many are homeless because of inability to pay the high rent.

Fuel scarcity and hike in prizes are part of the life style of the people. Many filling station owners look forward to opportunities to cash-in on the docility of the people and make instant fortunes.

Now, the big bang; every election year in the country represent moments of anxiety. The nation has never organized an election accepted as being free and fair. Even when some folks argue that the one of 1993 whose outcome was in favour of the late Chief M. K. O Abiola, many still believe that it is easy to accept that line of thought because of the backing the results received from civil society organizations, CSO after the annulment. The business mogul and his wife Kudirat lost their lives as the struggle to claim his mandate continued till 1997.

As the citizens anxiously await the final conclusion of the 2023 elections, the onus lies on the leaders to change the ugly narrative by putting concrete measures in place to secure the lives of the people while making life more meaningful. The hazards experienced presently cannot be justified, given the enormous human and natural resources available in the country.

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