by Azeenarh Mohammed (@xeenarh)
(Closeted optimist, provocative writer)
In January 2012, there was an awakening of the average Nigerian to his rights as a citizen and the government’s responisbility toward the people. For the first time ever, the budget was being discussed in every household, office, bar, and at social gatherings. The people for once were taking interest in the acts and inactions of their selected or elected officials. This interest arose from the removal of subsidy on fuel and Nigerians were suddenly beginning to ask where their money went to, and what it had been spent on.
Many people took to the streets and demanded for accountability, transparacy, proper use of funds and implementation of the budget. A lot of us stood up and claimed the reason we were on the street was about ‘MORE THAN N65’. We screamed, shouted, blogged and held firm. Then came TUC/NLC’s shameful compromise and the whole protest stuttered as a whole. People where disappointed, disillusioned, and tired.
After that outing, we all pretty much went back to sleep. We resumed our lives and most of us stopped saying anything. The few who were still talking were doing so with a little less force.
What happened to all of us who were demanding for the resignation of Diezani for the role she played in the corruption in the Petroleum industry? What did we do with the famous KPMG report? What happened to our anger? Our zeal for change? What happened to the 60 day ultimatum given to Ribadu and his ‘oil revenue special task force‘? What happened to the conflicting numbers of Madam Okonjo Iweala, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Deazani Alison-Madueke? Why has the House of Representative’s committee report been buried? Have we uncovered the true figures of how much PMS we consume daily? Do we know the quantity of PMS we import daily, the quantity we export and at how much we sell it for? Have we uncovered how much we’ve paid for subsidy in 2009, 2010, 2011 or to whom we’ve paid those sums to? The answer is no.
HERE IS A REMINDER OF THINGS THAT HAVE REMAINED THE SAME:
The famous ‘CABAL‘ has not been exposed, prosecuted or stopped.
The waste in government has not reduced.
NO Petroleum Industry Bill has been passed.
Corruption has not been tackled.
The masses are still suffering.
People are still dying of hunger.
Hospitals are still in a dilapidated state.
Or roads remain death traps.
Schools teach nothing or close to nothing.
Bombs are still going off & boko haram is at large
WHAT HAS GONE WORSE? We’re paying more for fuel. We’re paying more for transportation. We’re paying more for food. We’re paying more for schools. We’re paying more in public and private hospitals. The rate of crime has gone up significantly. Political office holders are paid even more than they were before January 2012 BUT strangely, we’re talking less!
WHAT CAN WE DO? I’ve always said we need to get people educated. We need to get everyone interested in government and governance. The rights of an individual and what the government owes you in return: basically, what the people in government are paid so handsomely to do.
The truth is, as much as it sounds fabulous to have a few people fighting for the rights of all others, it sadly remains unsustainable. We need everyone fighting this common fight. We need the same level of participation we had in January. Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions. We need people demanding answers to hard questions. We need the people in Edo, Lafia, Biu, Ore, Bende, Aba, & Duntsen-ma asking why the LG road is still bad, why the schools are in shambles, and why maternal care is crappy and where the money has gone to. We need people caring, and we need people participating.
If #occupyNigeria for you was about N65 naira, well I have little to say to you, but if it was about more than N65, we need you to get up again. Not tomorrow but today As J-J Omojuwa always says “The race to fix Nigeria is marathon and not a sprint” and he’s right. The journey just started.
(P.S feel free to broadcast, tweet, email, and reblog this article. The more people we re-awaken, the better. We need to start doing what we do best: talking, teaching and learning off one another)