By the time many of us would be reading this, essay it would be the last 48 hours of the year 2019 or the first 48 hours of 2020. For me it is not so much about 2020 but about 2030, let me put it in perspective.
A Nigerian child born in 2020 would be 10 in 2030, the young lad who is 10 now would be 20 years, picture the crisis of where we are, where we ought to be, and where we are not. Mr. Buhari wont be president by then, I know for a certain that neither would Mr. Tinubu, same way no one envisaged a Buhari Presidency in 2010.
History is a funny subject, whether we like it or not, study it or not, get it out of our curriculum or not, get revisionists to change it or not, fact is that as a nation we are at a threshold of another telling decade, what we want is exactly in front of us, do we want to build a nation from an uprising or we want to regret, talk about recessions, and more missed opportunities?
So I continue this admonition in context of Thomas Paine’s essays titled The Crisis, if you have not read it, it is one of those collections of works that you need to read in the New Year.
So, in the winter of 1776, the American War of Independence, which had been declared only a few months before, was in trouble. British troops had quickly advanced through New York and New Jersey to crush the rebellion, and the Continental army was in retreat and on the verge of disintegration. At the end of that year, on December 23, Thomas Paine, who had previously inspired the revolutionary cause with his stirring pamphlet Common Sense, published the first of a new series of essays aptly titled The Crisis.
Paine had a gift for memorable phrasing and the first words of The Crisis soon became famous:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: ’tis dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
General Washington found the writing so uplifting that later, during the bleak winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, he ordered Paine’s essay to be read by all the troops.
Paine continued his writing through the duration of the war with eloquent appeals for justice addressed to British leaders and citizens, and uplifting words to bolster the patriots in their fight for independence.
A document that provides many insights into the hardships and precarious uncertainties that threatened the birth of the American nation.
For the next few paragraphs let us look at my Nigeria, according to a Guardian report, the country’s quest to overcome growth and development challenges will remain a mirage as government continues to prioritize huge consumption above capital investments, says a report by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In November, the Federal Government spent 95.9 percent of its resources on statutory transfers (7.2 percent) and recurrent expenditure (88.7 percent), leaving a paltry 4.1 percent for capital projects.
According to the Economic Report released in November 2019, government’s budgetary projections sustained its pattern of shortfall by N218.05 billion. At N322.62 billion, the estimated Federal Government’s retained revenue for the month of November 2019 was below the monthly budget of N705.44 billion by 54.3 percent.
With the above, the sad and bad news is that forget all that nice sounding Christmas messages and the niceties that our government officials will massage us with in the new year, we are not going to see a better Nigeria, despite a possibility of January-December Budget for a first time, Nigeria is in crisis and either we know it not, or we are running from it.
With every turn, the warnings are everywhere with many insights into the hardships and precarious uncertainties that threatened the Nigerian state into the next decade, but there is nothing on our bookshelf, nothing really drives us. There is a dearth not just in critical thinking, we are not frightened at the autopilot nature of affairs of state, and there is an absence of moral and political arguments to encourage common people to fight for an egalitarian government.
We are temporarily reeled in the joy of a Sowore and Dasuki release, but quiet about several hundreds of citizens at the mercy of a system that negates the principles guiding the rule of law, or separation of powers.
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The very fabric of the Nigerian soul is being tried, being tested, for how long will it hold against insecurity, biting poverty well lubricated by unimaginable unemployment, we cannot tell. Where are Nigeria’s harmattan soldier and the patriot of the rains, those that will hold government to accountability, people that would not relent in asking where is Leah Sharibu, or seek answers regarding what has become of the Chibok girls?
Nigerians, who are devoid of sectarian and nepotic persuasions, Nigerians that are willing to drop the CAN, MURIC propaganda for the Nigerian flag. Nigerians that will remove their parapotic agbadas and adorn robes of equity, fairness and justice.
In our crisis, what would we read to our soldiers in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, how do we encourage them not to shrink from the service to their country; sing a song about how we need them to stand now, we are at a crisis point that we need leaders for a decade where their actions would earn the love and thanks of man and woman.
Our crisis is breeding tyranny, like hell, and it is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: ’tis dearness only that gives every thing its value.” Who will dare, is Mr. Buhari ready to dare, do we have local heroes at the state and local levels of government that want to be counted as having brought us out of the doldrums. Can the episodic crisis torn APC start a positive change at a level unimaginable for Nigerians to smile 2030—Only time will tell
*** Written by Dr. Prince Charles Dickson.