Our President took all the Christmas toys and left us none, By Perry Brimah

We pray for good leaders

This September it was announced that the Malawian government was selling its presidential jet to use the proceeds, $15 million (N2.4 billion), to feed the poor. The proceeds will be used to purchase maize locally and for legume production. The President, Joyce Banda, said the cost of running the jet was too much and as such she was selling it to help feed the 10 per cent suffering from food shortage in the African country.

President Banda also cut her salary by 30 per cent and pledged to sell off 35 Mercedes Benz cars used by her cabinet.

Nigeria according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has 112 million poor with 100 million destitute, living under a dollar a day. The number of poor has doubled since 2004, midway into Olusegun Obasanjo’s government when the number stood at 54 million, to the present 112 million.

Despite Nigeria recording impressive economic growth, the wealth is simply not reaching the poor who are getting poorer and more desperate while the government and business friends of the government are getting stupendously rich, cutting up chunks of the nation’s resources and sharing its assets among themselves.

As 2013 draws to a close, Nigeria is promised more of the same. The government, unlike that of Malawi has budgeted for another presidential jet to join the 10 already in the presidential fleet.

According to a recent report, the proposal for the new aircraft has already been included in the 2014 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly. This latest toy to be added to the presidential fleet will cost N1.5 billion.

It is no secret that most of these presidential jets are used for personal matters, including ferrying the president’s political campaigners and questionable cabals investigated for fraud. In November 2012, Jide Omokore, a front-man of the Nigerian president and Minister of Petroleum, was flying from Monaco to Paris when the presidential jet was detained for two days by the French authorities.

As Nigeria’s military does a great job checking the atrocities of Boko Haram in the north east, several sources in the military have complained that they lack proper equipment. This has led to the military’s vulnerability to attack from the superiorly equipped Boko Haram.

After a recent attack on a barrack in Bama, where several soldiers were killed and their family members raped and burned alive, it was reported that the base had only one armored personnel carrier (APC). Most of the equipment used by the Nigerian army was purchased during Shehu Shagari’s administration.

The battle against terror can never be won by military forces alone, however it is almost unheard of for rebel forces to sack military barracks. Even if the army falls short in protecting civilian villages, it is expected that they are armed and equipped enough to protect themselves. Nigeria’s government satisfies itself, getting toys in the form of private jets for politics and business and bullet proof cars, while the army is left exposed and civilians suffer living under a dollar a day without things as simple as drinking water.

It is true that the raping of Nigeria did not start with this or the immediate past governments. Nevertheless, Nigerians are tired of being raped. It is no excuse that because others from other ethnic groups have forcefully seized power via coups and raped the country, that the people must open up to all 500 ethnic groups to rape the nation’s people, civilian and military in succession.

While many in urban areas and the totally abandoned villages will be going to bed with empty stomachs, lit kerosene lamps and no hope of employment and restitution, those in the corridors of power sleep once again with all the latest toys.

While the army at war stays up at night afraid that Boko Haram terrorists will sweep their camps, lack craft, APC’s, drones and modern technology to keep them ahead in the war, Nigeria’s leaders will fly high-speed and happy in latest jets and drive safe in their bullet proof jeeps.

We pray for a miracle in 2014. We pray the Lord will give us leaders who will not free convicted murderers, but will help us arrest and lock up all the government thieves of the past; lock up the cabal thieves as the poor thieves are locked up today, for what is mete for the poor is likewise mete for the rich.

We pray the Lord replaces this crop with leaders who will start the process of cleaning up the oil polluted swamps of the Niger Delta; protect the gold mining poisoned children of Zamfara; repair government assets and not sell them to their friends to extort us in unregulated monopolies; create a path to create jobs for our 50 per cent unemployed youth; resurrect our police force, properly equipping them and give them the decent wages they need to work proud and effectively in curbing crime; build roads without taxing us and even build subway systems; and encourage the setting up of automobile industries in pure competitive fashion, without first punishing us by banning us from importing cars we manage while they hand themselves unlimited waivers.

We pray the good Lord will abruptly seize power from the wicked and give it to people with kind hearts, selfless nature and astute judgment, people like Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda, for we cannot last like this much longer.

We also pray the good Lord strengthens each and every one of us to stand up and say “no;” to demand our rightful “toys” and to resist temptations of xenophobic stupidity which make us complacent to corruption and rape when it is ‘one of ours.’ We pray for progress.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah

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