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Nigeria’s leadership, economy: A mixed bag of fortunes

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Nigeria’s leadership, economy: A mixed bag of fortunes

North or South, home is sweet, says a popular maxim. But some Nigerians in foreign land say bad leadership and lack of basic amenities may not allow Nigerian in Diaspora return home, reports CHARLES OGUNDIYA

 

Recently there was uproar on the social media particularly Facebook, when someone posted a picture of a gigantic pedestrian bridge built by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.

Some called it the dividend of democracy; some described it as a big waste while others believed that the level of pedestrian and traffic on that axis of the state did not warrant the bridge.

Lagos State as a mega city was known for its various pedestrian bridges which littered the state with law enforcement agents wasting valuable time trying to apprehend citizens who dare cross the major roads instead of making use of the available bridge.

However, looking at some other top countries across the world, there is nothing like bridges for people to cross, rather, there are zebra crossings which no motorist dare fails to obey.

No matter the speed, a driver must obey the zebra crossing law allowing people to cross at any point in time while some also make use of traffic light for pedestrians.

 

Two years ago, our correspondent visited two cities of Rwanda – Kigali, the capital city and a border town, Ribavu – motorists and citizen obeyed the zebra crossing law.

In South Africa, it is a big offence not to allow pedestrians the right of road at various zebra crossings, same as the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (U.S.) and other countries of the world.

 

Early this year, our correspondent was told in Casablanca, the Moroccan capital, that if a driver mistakenly hit a pedestrian, the minimum fine was 5,000 dirham and could be more depending on the damage caused.

This is the least of the hardship the leaders of the country have exposed the citizens of Nigeria to, despite travelling to some of these countries and witnessing proper development, they still believe in making life more difficult.

 

Republic of Benin, Ghana and virtually all the countries around the world have constant power supply, helping the development of such country, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria where the leaders believe nobody has the right to constant power supply.

 

Someone recently said all what the government needed to do was to work on the electricity, security, transportation and good road and Nigeria would be the best in the whole world.

 

A citizen based in the United Kingdom, Alex Olabelurin, told our correspondent that some of them currently based abroad would have loved to return home if they could enjoy the basic amenities in Nigeria like they were enjoying over there.

 

“Even though I pay for everything, I enjoy what I paid for,” he said.

 

“It is not like Nigeria where you pay tax and some politicians will be using provision of road and water to campaign. Have I not paid for it already?

 

“Here in the UK, at least you are sure of security and not that someone will just walk up to you one day and either kidnap or kill you. It is rare to hear cases of armed robbery which are common in Nigeria.

 

“Seriously, our leaders are trying so hard to continue to enslave us and until our ‘mumu’ stop, that’s when we are going to get it right,” he added.

Some Nigerians, who spoke with our correspondent early this year in Morocco, said despite enjoying free education as foreign students, they had been receiving some stipends as pocket money to keep themselves together.

 

According to Rejoice Giwa, who is currently studying Tourism Management in one of the universities in Tangier, Morocco, said in as much as she would love to return to Nigeria after her education, same could not be said of others who had enjoyed the facilities in their new place of abode.

 

“I don’t know (if she will want to return home), it’s really not easy in Nigeria, but all I have to say is that if they (the leaders) should just try and change, we’ve been hearing change long time and up till now we have seen nothing, if they can just change a bit and copy from at least these people, things will get better.

 

“Morocco has nothing apart from tourism and they are making good use of what is coming in. If you see the roads, the light, and everything, it is always there but in Nigeria, I don’t know what is wrong.

 

“We should just keep trying and believe in Nigeria, I know people have given up hope so easily that nothing good can come out of this country but I still keep telling my friends that no matter what, let’s just be positive because sometimes we kill ourselves with our tongue, let’s just keep being positive and believing that one day at least, no matter how long it takes, Nigeria will get better,” Giwa added.

 

Abdul-Yekeen Abiola is from Ibarapa in Oyo State and after spending just over six months in Morocco, he has arrived at a decision not to return home.

 

He was unequivocal in his response when asked if after his studies in the Arab country, whether he would love to return to Nigeria.

 

Abiola said: “I have gone around four states in Morocco, I have been to Rabat, to Casablanca, I have been in Dayosh, a village in Morocco, and now based permanently in Tangier.

 

“We are not their citizens in Morocco yet they are paying us which is equivalent of like N20,000 Nigerian currency, every blessed month.

 

“I don’t think going home is in my plan because I still want to spend up to at least 10 years in this country before going back home because I want to finish up with my masters before going back  home.

 

“This is an opportunity for me because I don’t think if I am at home, I will be able to do all this, sitting for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB)-conducted examinations, not gaining admission and all that. So, I don’t think I will go home until I am done with my Western and Arabic education. Since we got here, I don’t think any of us ever regretted coming over.”

 

Travelling on major roads in Nigeria has become a nightmare due to the bad nature of the roads and also incessant attacks by armed robbers, kidnappers and so on.

 

According to a research by G. C. Enwerem and G.A. Ali of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State, in a journal entitled Economic Effects of Bad Roads on Vehicle Maintenance, one of the major causes of bad roads in the country is the operation of heavy duty vehicles.

 

Most times there will be gridlock on the road due to the activities of these heavy duty vehicles, a clear example is the one currently experience in Lagos State starting from Ojuelegba Bridge towards Costain.

 

The major means of transporting goods in the country in recent time has been through the major roads when cargoes in other countries are being transported by rail.

 

Apart from cargoes, rail transportation seems to be cheaper and economical but Nigeria has failed to take advantage of such.

 

A fast train will take you from some major bus stops in South Africa directly to the OR Tambo that serves Johannesburg and Pretoria, without even entering the town or wasting money on taxis.

 

Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca, Morocco is linked to all the major cities in the country by rail which makes it easier for passengers to move freely without much stress.

 

Apart from saving the road from collapse, it has helped the country develop in other areas and provided job opportunities unlike Nigeria where it is difficult to achieve this.

 

In some of these developed countries, few vehicles ply the highways allowing the roads to last longer, compared to Nigeria.

 

Not everyone could afford air travel but if railway is working, then nothing stops the citizens from taking full advantage of it like it is being done in other parts of the world.

 

Talking about security on the major highway, criminals are giving opportunity to thrive because of the fact that they have where to hide during their operations.

 

Before leaving the country for the United States, Adetunji Adebowale was working in Akure, Ondo State, but used to travel to Lagos often owing to the nature of his job. He told our correspondent that it was a big surprise to him that the government had not decided to tap into the goldmine on the nation’s major roads.

 

He said: “If the government can invest so much on the bushy area on our roads, apart from job creation, there won’t be issue of famine since there will be food everywhere.”

Most of the available spaces in South Africa leading from one province to another have been used as farmlands, thereby giving no room for any criminal to hide and perpetrate any evil.

 

Johannesburg to Durban is a journey of about seven to nine hours, but apart from the town and villages on the road, the most noticeable things were the various farm cultivations.

At a side, it will be vegetable, another pepper and tomatoes while you will get to a particular area it will just be maize and sometimes cassava, raking in more Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) for the country.

 

In Morocco, during the African Nations Championship, which New Telegraph covered for over two weeks, the roads were often deserted with few vehicles plying them.

The Local Organising Committee of the championship gave free train ride to all accredited journalists from one centre to another which allowed our correspondent to see the developments in the country.

Sodiq ‘Dare Obasanu is also a student of Islamic Sharia and Geographical Science of Mahdu Imam Nafi’I Lita’aleemil Atiiq, a degree-awarding institution in Tangier. He said Nigeria should not be rated alongside other developed countries in all ramifications.

 

“The difference is very, very clear. It is like comparing what you can see visibly to what you can just hear.

“Based on the infrastructure in Morocco, based on the way they are living, and their economy, everything is very different from Nigeria and they have nothing, compared to Nigeria.

“Here, they have a lot of professors, teachers, they are all talking about Nigeria is this, Nigeria is that but it is unfortunate that they never know what we are going through as citizens of the country.

“For me to talk about the comparison between Morocco and Nigeria, they are far above Nigeria in every aspect,” he said.

Obasanu added that leaders had failed the citizens. But, according to him, the solution lies with the government.

He said: “According to my own little mentality, it is very obvious that the government and our leaders are at fault. Though we can easily talk about the people that are living as individuals in the country, the main fault is from the leaders, the government.

 

“If I am talking about how to bring the solution, I think we should just start from the government. We need a disciplined leader, someone who is godly, someone who has self-control and who can work not based on what he wants to eat but what he is thinking he can do for the generation to come.

 

“If you look at the way they are governing us, they are not thinking about how we are going to live, they are thinking about how they can generate money for themselves and their families, that’s what they are doing, I think the solution is for us to have a godly leader, and with that, Nigeria will be a better country.

 

“Talking of what I have seen in this country, I will rather prefer staying here and living the whole of my life here. However, according to a Yoruba adage which says: ‘Ajo o dun bi ile,’ no matter where you go, no matter how sweet it is, you can never forget where you come from. That is why we’ve been praying to God to do all these necessary things we are planning to make a better Nigeria. I pray before I get back home, Nigeria would be a better country. I don’t want to go back to that old nation I left behind.”

 

Our correspondent noticed some black beggars on the streets of Tangier, Agadir and Marrakech with a few of them citizens of Nigeria.

After so much persuasion, one of them, who claimed to come from Edo State, said she would rather stay back and beg in Morocco than to return to Nigeria.

 

The lady said she wanted to connect Europe through Tangier, a distance of 45 minutes by sea, but was prevented owing to the security network and high standard surveillance.

The 26-year-old lady craved anonymity and said she had been surviving in the city by begging and did not have any thought of returning to Nigeria soon.

She said: “I can’t go into prostitution because this country’s law is against it, and there are not too many jobs here, so I will continue to beg until I get enough money to start a business.

“I cannot go back to Nigeria, not just because I cannot face my people after informing them that I have travelled to Europe, but because a lot is wrong with my country.

“If there are jobs, nobody will want to leave the country to start suffering in another man’s country. But you are sure of everything here, compared to Nigeria where nothing works.”

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