An Army of Failed Systems in Nigeria

No Comments » March 5th, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles

An Army of Failed Systems in Nigeria


Cornelius Olukunle Ewuoso OP

Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.


Life, you know, is a mystery. So many things take place in this world to which we cannot provide any rational explanation. For example, the suffering of a just man, servitude of an intellectual, the victory of the tyrant, death of an intimate friend, victimization of the law abiding, oppression of the many by a few  and so on. But nothing in this life presents itself more mysteriously to us than this entity we call Nigeria.

            Nigeria is a nation blessed with natural, physical, intellectual, human and cultural resources, yet the paradox is that extreme wealth and poverty live side by side. There are so many injustices going on everywhere. Bad governance, unemployment, robbery, embezzlement, corruption, prostitution, political assassinations and the likes, have never ceased to be the order of the day. Nigeria is sick and laden with so many social ills and political instability. Practically nothing works in this country. No good traffic lights, electricity and water. The health care system, educational system, security system have all become a nightmare.

            Poverty confronts us in a wholly inexplicable way. It is very difficult to believe that some Nigerians possess stupendous wealth equal to the world’s richest that yet close to 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty level and without safety nets. We only need to take a tour of Lagos to understand this, or walk round the streets of Beere, Ibadan. Many have no places to call ‘home’. They all live in misery. This tour itself would be possible only if you possess the wherewithal to withstand the Nigeria’s bad road networks, which in the most part are full of potholes and death traps. The Nigerian government has failed us in providing good sustainable means of livelihood and good road networks.

            Our educational system presents itself as a massive failure. It is disheartening to observe that an unquantifiable number of youths are being ‘produced’ each year as graduates, yet without any company or organization willing to employ most of them. And you know why? Because they are not ‘qualified’ for the job. Albeit they possessed the ‘certificate’, they lacked the wherewithal for the jobs. And you know as they say, ‘the idle mind is the devil’s workshop’. When you have a youngman or lady idling around without anyone willing to meaningfully engage him or her, he or she would readily become a tool in the devil’s hands. The result is that crime would increase; prostitution would never cease to be common practice. Fornication, armed robbery, social upheaval etc. would continue to be both national and international concerns.

            In this instance of educationally failed system, the students, the lecturers and the government must be held responsible. Many of the students are unwilling to undergo the rigour of studies and thus engage in the ‘tedious task of tidy thinking’. They would rather prefer to go to night clubs, party all day, spending little or no time at all on academic gymnastics. This is further heightened by the intellectually lazy lecturers, who are so much concerned with making money than impacting knowledge, and exacerbated by  the financially reckless government officials who are more interested in embezzling rather than investing in the future of the country. As I have argued in one of my previous articles (In Defence of Our Future, published on this site), these young boys and girls are the future of this country. If we fail to educate them properly-morally, spiritually and intellectually, we would gradually be nurturing the recipe for future chaos.

            The security system is another system of both local and national concerns. In fact, it is a total failure. There are so many police officers in the country that the present Inspector General of Police cannot even tell the number, yet crime rates has been on a daily increase; armed robbery, political assassinations, gangsterism, cultism etc., have never ceased to be ‘the Nigerian nightmare’. To all these criminal activities, the typical police response is ‘No comment’ or ‘We are trying our best, our men are on it’. But of course, they are not on ‘anything’. One thing every Nigerian should always pray for is never to have an experience with the Nigerian Police force, because you would enjoy it. A friend shared with me his own encounter with them. His car had just been hijacked by armed robbers and he ran straight to the Police station to report the situation. He was lucky enough to have received the prompt attention and sympathy of the men at the counter, but not beyond that. The policemen he met, told him straight forward that they were incapacitated, their communication system was down and they had no money in their pockets to alert other units thus, there was nothing they could about it. However, if he could give them some money, then they can alert the neighbouring units. The young man had no choice but to give them the money to make the phone calls, but that did not save the situation because it took them hours to make the phone calls. By the time the policemen finished, the car was long gone. If the armed robbers were to be running to Benin from Lagos where they had collected the car from my friend, they would have arrived there by the time the policemen finished making the phone calls. Hmn! A typical encounter with the members of the Nigerian Police Force.

            This pathetic state of the Nigerian Police force typifies what is obtainable in other security departments-SSS, CID, name them. Our security system has consistently shown itself to be a no match of the highly unreachable, unapproachable, mystified men of the underworld called the dare devils.

            Our health care system is another grand failure. There are no good hospitals around the country. No adequate health care facilities, qualified personnel are in short supply; there is an astonishing increase in death rates, usually from preventable diseases and so on.

            The year 2008, unlike any other year, witnessed so many activities and spending, yet there is little or nothing to show for it. Billions were spent purchasing health care facilities, yet we cannot see them; billions spent purchasing drugs but the drugs are overwhelmingly in short supply. Billions spent on programmes providing services and information about malaria, diabetes, cancer etc., yet these illnesses have ceased to be ‘the Nigerian experience’. Death rates from these diseases are on the increase. So, who are they deceiving? The whole health care system is messed up. I happen to know someone who had a first-hand experience of our dilapidated health care system. It had just been discovered, after an x-ray, that he had a growth on his left kidney and an operation was an imperative, so he went in for that operation at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital. The surgeons opened him up, saw the growth but were confused about what to do to it. So they closed him back, leaving him just they way he came. Some say they were ill-equipped to handle the growth, others say we lack real surgeons in this country but I say, ‘this is another failed system’.

             The young man was forced to travel abroad for proper treatment and he is doing well right now. You know the first question that came to mind after the whole thing is this, what would have happened if he had no money to travel abroad for treatment??? You mean he would have just died like that, from something one could treat??? What is the fate of many poor Nigerians suffering a similar illness??? What would have happened if it had been me???? I would have died just like that????? Of course, many have gone because these teaching hospitals and indeed hospitals around the country lack the tools and personnel to manage their illnesses.

            One other thing which equally beats my imagination is the fact that Nigeria is considered to be highly religious, yet there is an observable difference between the tenets of religion and the reality in Nigeria. Despite the religious boom in Nigeria, there is an overwhelming failure everywhere, there is a moral failure, cultural failure, spiritual failure, intellectual failure, leadership failure, bad governance, crime, prostitution and the likes have never reduced. Additionally, religion in Nigeria has been reduced to mundane and selfish purposes of men and women who will never cease to use it as a means of exploiting the unsuspecting masses.

            Confronted by this gale of failures for which we all-the government, parents, citizens, students, lecturers etc.- must be held culpable, we are forced to ask the rational question, what is the way out? The antidotes for our social, moral, physical, spiritual and cultural disharmony are honesty, uprightness, justice and responsiveness. The challenges before us are enormous and unless justice is done to all, unless we become the voice of the voiceless, the vanguard of reconciliation, take education seriously etc., peace will continue to elude us in this nation and failures would never cease to be our lot.


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