The current controversy over the removal or otherwise of fuel subsidy is basically of mistrust between the rulers and the ruled in Nigeria. Obviously, most Nigerians rightly believes that, the expected proceeds from the exercise will simply end the same way previous proceeds realized went . Interestingly enough, it has been confirmed for instance that, 80% of all government’s privatized enterprises are grounded, and the proceeds have predictably developed wings and flown.
Anyway, the question that poses itself is, when will it be too severe for Nigerians to endure? Incidentally, I have heard the phrase “enough is enough” from both Nigerians and other nationals to express their grievances over a worsening socio-economic condition in many countries around the world. Similarly, there have been some success stories when the masses lived up to the core message of the slogan, took their destinies into their hands and affected or imposed the desired socio-economic and political orders. Venezuelan experience was particularly impressive in this regard, because after they overwhelmingly voted for Hugo Chavez for his pro-masses agenda, the United States allegedly masterminded a military coup against him in 2002, which though technically succeeded, the coup plotters had to treat when the masses rose up against it, and eventually they restored Chavez to power after just after 47 hours from announcing the coup.
On the other hand, there are those who simply chant the slogan without even realizing its meaning. Unfortunately, the majority of Nigerian masses fit into such category, because they are not only reluctant to take any practical step forward, but they are also actually undermining their very prospect of affecting any reform in the future. They do this by mostly (though largely unconsciously) promoting unnecessary ethno-religious prejudices at the expense of their collective good, apparently not minding that, the misery battering their lives does not differentiate between a Northerner and a Southerner or between a Muslim and a Christian. Whereas those who inflict such misery on them, and despite being from the same different ethno-religious backgrounds, they nonetheless bury their differences to facilitate it for one another in their looting spree exercise.
Having realized the imperative of social enlightenment and awareness to inspire the public towards any sustainable reform, I am particularly disturbed by the quality of the issues deliberated upon by the country’s supposedly well-informed thinkers, especially on the Internet. After all, these people are supposed to spearhead mass orientation efforts. However, they unfortunately descend so low, exhausting their energies and wasting their times in chasing the shadow instead of the substance.
They are apparently more concerned with proving or disproving some stereotypical images of each ethno-religious groups in the country, with a view to ridiculing one another. For instance, it is not uncommon to read an “analyst” from a particular tribe for example, condemning a whole ethno-religious group simply because the social issue he addresses is attributed to such group. This predictably created an endless cycle of attacks and counter attacks on the bases of ethnicity and religion. Consequently, the average Nigerians have been conditioned to trade derogatory perceptions against one another’s ethno-religious backgrounds, thereby missing the chance of addressing the actual core issues of collective interest. Therefore, unfortunately desperate efforts by each ethnic group to either justify, exonerate themselves or ridicule another ethnic group have overshadowed the process (if any) of addressing the actual problems.
For instance, the crimes of kidnapping, drug counterfeiting/trafficking and armed robbery are unnecessarily addressed in a way subtly condemning a particular ethno-religious group from which most of the perpetrators of such crimes are believed to have come. Equally, when discussing financial/cyber crimes, one can easily discern how a particular ethnic group believed to be particularly notorious in it, is effectively ridiculed. The same also applies to international prostitution, oil bunkering etc. By the way, worst still is how all such ethic groups ally against a particular one, which they have often condemned as more or less the cause of Nigeria’s backwardness, and is also regarded as the sole source of the escalating religious extremism in the country.
Predictably, such unnecessary stereotypically based perceptions and analyses don’t only undermine any chance for a responsible approach to address the problem, but also stir prejudices, which in turn create confusion as regards the actual people’s priorities. Consequently, an average Nigerian downplays the impact of whatever crime his fellow tribe man commits, and may even try to shield or exonerate him at the expense of the public good, if he is in the position to do so. Similarly, if he is an analyst, he would maneuver around in order to justify his crime in whatever way.