I cannot situate exactly how I first encountered this phrase: “Strange liberators”, but I think it was while studying the words and speeches of Martin Luther King Jnr where it was used as a title for a piece on the role played by the American government in Vietnam.
Luther in that account stated thus;”I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there on till some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries. They must indeed have seen Americans as strange liberators”.
Though, not at any conventional war with any political entity, but what took place among the people of that peninsula has found a home in our political geography and it has become clear to the vast majority of Nigerians that there is no meaningful solution to, or some attempt made by successive administrations since independence to know them and hear their broken cries.
Without minding what others may say, all Nigerians have gotten from their leaders (civilian and the military rulers) since independence were verbal promises to liberate the nation from political and socioeconomic shackles- promises that have produced monuments of nothingness as the ‘leaders’ are in the habit of turning their back on the masses as soon as they assume the public office. Not even the current administration’s ‘change’ mantra have been able to propel social justice or guaranteed social mobility.
The reason in the writer’s views for this awful situation which has made the privileged political class continue to flourish in obscene splendor as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country while the masses diminish socially and economically is that the nation has blessed itself with more politicians than leaders. And as a consequence, led to the destruction of social infrastructures relevant to a meaningful and acceptable level of social existence for our people.
Take for instance; the Nigerian education sector is currently in crisis as one –fifth of the global population of children without access to formal schooling are Nigerians and learning outcomes low even among children enrolled in schools.
Further pointing to the fact that the activities of strange liberators have become a reality worried about the world over, John Campbell a former United states of America ambassador to Nigeria, in his piece posted September 18, 2018 with the title ‘Corruption Denies Millions Of Access to Quality Education in Nigeria’’ and published in the Council On Foreign Relations journal captured the situation this way;
‘Education in Nigeria is in dire strait and many Nigerians are acutely aware and concerned. At present, Nigeria has the highest percentage in the world of children not enrolled in school, and it is much higher in the north of the country than in the south. Overall, the UN Human Development Index ranks Nigeria 152nd out of 188 countries. In the north, up to 12 million are enrolled in madrassas which do not prepare them to participate in a modern economy and are generally outside of government oversight’’.
This is in addition to the glaring reality that public education is chronically underfunded and without adherence to the UN agency recommended 25 percent of their national budget on education.
As with other aspects of our national life, corruption is said to be ubiquitous, teachers and other civil servants often go for long periods without being paid, as the nation shamefully continues to debate minimum wage as against living wage in a country where every commodity and service has skyrocketed. And we supposedly have leaders who claim to have the interest of the masses at heart.
While this disagreement over wages between the workers and government rages, insecurity of lives and property has become the greatest and the immediate danger to the survival of Nigerians as uncontrolled shedding of innocent blood and the inability of the security personnel to apprehend the killers speaks volume about the character of these strange liberators.
This cannot be described as unfounded as participants at a gathering organized recently by a Civil Society Organization (CSO) in Lagos to x-ray the state of the nation at 58 in a similar style argued that Nigerian workers have suffered unprecedented hardship over the years as successive government continues to deprive them of legitimately earned salaries and pensions.
Also, a peep into our health sector will have you greeted with a shocking revelation that adequate investment in the health sector is clearly not the priority of those in power as our hospitals, whether state owned or federal owned have become absolute death centres where people go to die rather than to be healed.
Telling evidence that the government (both state and federal) may not be doing well in this direction are the series of sordid reports coming from the international agencies about Nigeria. The world health organization (WHO) and the UNICEF records show that Nigeria is having the third worst infant mortality rate in the world; Nigeria is the second country in the world with the highest maternal mortality rate and the second country in the world with the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. Nigeria ranks first in the world with the highest number of mal-nourished children. Nigeria ranks topmost in the world with the highest number of people lacking access to basic primary health care. The primary healthcare system for prevention of preventable decease cases such as polio, cholera and measles
Truly, the trouble with Nigeria as remarked by Chinua Achebe is simply and squarely a failure of leadership’, Just as the poverty of African leaders since the dawn of independence certainly does not mean material but lack of commitment to duty, lack of vision and greediness characterized by corruption.
To completely change this state of affairs and accelerate economic growth, bring about social progress and cultural development, to promote peace and stability, collaborate in agriculture and industry and expand, we must become intensive in our political activities particularly now that the 2019 general election is around the corner. We must be guided in this direction for us to end the osculation of these strange liberators.
Written by Jerome-Mario Utomi, a Journalist/Researcher