How not to Address a Problem

No Comments » September 29th, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles

How not to Address a Problem


The present deplorable, though avoidable, state of things in this country Nigeria, the untold hardships and problems, the people are forced to endure on a daily basis, have really afforded me the opportunity to question the administrative, intellectual, mental and psychological capacities of those whom we put at the helms of affairs in this country.

The recent dismissal of the five CEOs, the increase in crime rates, ASUU strike, land and home insecurities, the war of poverty, homelessness, starvation, corruption, hunger, political oppression, violence, assassinations, abuses, lack of electricity, Niger/Delta crisis, ethnic and religious bigotry, ballot paper stuffing in the recent by-elections, kidnapping, organized robbery and so on. The problems are just too numerous to count, and our leaders are yet to come up with concrete solutions. This country is in for a long night, and I wonder how many of us would make it when it is morning.

Are the leaders of this country aware of these challenges? Well the answer is simple, it is either they are aware of them or not. But since the challenges are too obvious to escape public acknowledgement, then we may safely conclude that our leaders are aware of them. But you may want to ask, why are they not doing anything about them? Why are they taking so much time to address them? Why would they continue to allow these problems deprive us of our entitlements-water, good food, shelter, life, power supply, security, good healthcare delivery system, basic education, freedom of expression, our own fundamental human rights?

The problems we are faced with are not unsolvable ones. These are problems which could have been dealt with at their roots, if only we had right people in right places. But I am afraid it would drive you crazy to inform you that those who lead us lack the intellectual ability, mental capacity and a well disposed state of mind to face, headlong the problems which afflict us. They lack the wherewithal to take on the challenges associated with their respective offices. Their mode of thinking reclines far, far away from the standard; comparable with hair dressers, certificate forgers, school drop-outs, onion sellers, military retirees, thugs, which account for their low output. We have numskulls who parade themselves with such credentials as PhD, MA, MSc, DSSC, STL, DBL etc, which only make one wonder where they got such credentials from. Who gave it to them? The institutions, schools or universities they got such things from should be shut down. I may not have a Doctorate or the likes, but at least I know how not to rule a country. However, it is not only our political leaders who are complacent of this, several other persons both in the private and public sectors are equally guilty of this

It is hard to imagine that every-time I wake up, I see the hope of a bright future being dashed away as a result of the reality of the present moment, which is, ‘we don’t have leaders yet’. Gentlemen and ladies, we have a serious problem at hand, and this calls for aggressive, but cautious measures.

It was with utter disbelief that I read on the Vanguard newspaper website a certain news report under the title, ‘Abia LGs move to check rising crime wave’. And how does this state government hope to achieve this? By providing more patrol vans, providing insurance scheme for policemen, sensitizing the youths, banning motorcycles in the State capital etc.

The attempt itself is praiseworthy, except the means they seek to achieve this is far from the standard. This is because, proper questions were not raised. There is no doubt that crime is on the increase in Nigeria, but I wonder whether our numskull government officials have made the effort to ask the question ‘why’ it is the case. Why is kidnapping becoming a menace? Why has robbery become a source of concern in this country? What is the root cause of the increase? The answer is simple enough, ‘unemployment and lack of job security’.

The unavailability of jobs accounts for the increase in crime rates. As more and more people graduate into the mass of unemployed and unemployable youths; or displaced from the works, or shops close down, relocate or find it totally impossible to keep all its employees, crimes or criminal activities would continue to appear fashionable, attractive and rewarding regardless the risks involved.

Hence, job insecurity or its non-availability accounts for the root cause of the increase in crime rates. Let the government make jobs available and there would be a significant decrease of criminal activities. Let the government make the country attractive to foreign investors and companies, and we would witness a new Nigeria. Rather than working out how to guarantee job security so as to reduce crime rates, the government of Abia State, in this news report and through one of its consultants, Dr Phillip Nto, is banning commercial motorcycle operation in the state capital, signing the Law setting up Abia State Vigilante Services and donation of several patrol vans and other equipment to the security agencies in the state. Additionally, as Dr Phillip Nto himself said, they have equally embarked on sensitizing the youths on the evils of crime, providing insurance scheme for policemen and offering N1 million cash reward for any informant that gives useful information which would lead to the apprehension of criminals in the state (Vanguard Electronic Newspaper , Tuesday, September 22, 2009).

It is not as if Nigerian youths are ignorant of the evils of crime for Nto and Abia State to recommend education or sensitization, as he would prefer to term it, as the panacea. Rather it is the case that the means of livelihood are elusive in this country. So they are willing to do anything to survive. Banning of commercial motorcycles or donation patrol vans would never have any significant impact on crime rates, rather such measures are bound to worsen the situation. The government has failed to provide jobs for the citizenries, but the small initiatives they dare to take; the same failed government is ready to deny them its privileges. Or what does the government hope to achieve by banning commercial motorcycles? What stunt is the government pulling by banning what others depend on for livelihood? What miracle does the government hope to perform by doing this except to frustrate them to stealing, kidnapping, etc. You cannot take away what others depend on and expect them to stay put, and not do anything to survive.

This is equally where I would like, if you permit me, to fault the government of Raji Fashola. No doubt the man is cleansing Lagos State of its unwanted guests, beautifying the State, fixing roads and repairing street lights. But what about the thousands of people whose houses he has destroyed, whose shops he has demolished, and yet not provided alternatives nor compensated them. Do we just expect these ones to sit down and look on while they are gradually suffocated of life? I am not sure.  You cannot take away what others depend on and expect them not to steal or rob in order to fulfill their various responsibilities. This is exactly how not to address a problem. Worst still, there cannot be an absence of job, or lack of the security of one and expect the people not to device unholy means to ‘survive’.

Hence, these whole idea of giving 1 million naira to anyone who would offer useful information that would lead to the apprehension of criminals, or donation of patrol vans and the likes all amount to ‘treating a symptom while ignoring the cause of the disease’. The upsurge in crime is the disease which plagues us, but what is the cause? Unemployment. Let the government work at addressing the cause of this malady, and a further outbreak of this disease would have been prevented. Do we have to send Dr Phillips Nto back to school to understand this?

Amongst the very many important lessons that could be gleaned from the recent face off between members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger/Delta and Federal government is ‘how not to ignore the cause a problem’. What significant impact, for example, can the offer of amnesty make without considering the reason for the deplorable state of things in the Niger/Delta. The Niger/Delta crisis dated long before the present militants. The crisis has been there long before MEND; before Ken Saro Wiwa and various movements and persons who have emerged on behalf of that region. These are just persons and movements who, at various times and in various ways, have attempted to raise the Niger/Delta question again and again. Hence, if the militants drop their arms today, what is guarantee that other militants would not pick-up arms in the future, if the cause of the crisis is left to linger-on?

Hence, let Dr Phillips Nto and the Abia State government and in fact, the Federal government, know that the first thing to be done, if they sincerely desire to address a problem is to go to the root of the problem, and not just concentrate on its external manifestations. For example, companies are shutting down their factories in Nigeria and relocating to other countries due to high cost of production, while others are threatening to sack their workers. The major oil companies in Nigeria, such as Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, ExxonMobil, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and the Total Exploration and Production Company Limited, are all threatening to lay off some of their workers if the Petroleum Industry Bill is ever passed and signed into law, and this is not enough concern for the Federal government (Guardian Newspaper, Tuesday, September 22, 2009). Albeit, it is totally unclear whose interests they are serving by their recent agitation that such bill should never be passed, their threats, however should not be ignored because of its long term effect, which is massive job losses and the subsequent increase in crime rates. In order to prevent problems of this kind therefore, I make the following the submissions;

first, the government, before making any law which would be applicable in areas which may have adverse effect on the lives of the people, as well as the future of investments in this country, should seek public opinion, as well as the opinions of co-operate investors. However, in situations where this is not feasible and a decision has to be taken, the government should be humble enough to reconsider its decisions if public opinion, either through the media or otherwise, is not in favor of such decisions.

Secondly, government must work at improving the epileptic situation of electric supply in this country so as to prevent other companies from joining the long queue of companies who have had to shut down their factories and relocate from Nigeria. Foreign investors’ confidence in Nigeria would change significantly if the federal government could do something in this regard.

Thirdly, government must make solid attempts at bringing back investors who have since left Nigeria as a result of the harsh conditions they faced here in country. New foreign investors and companies should equally be wooed to invest in Nigeria, but this would only be possible if the government strives to make available conducive conditions for these companies to operate and our second submission heeded to.

Finally, as it is often said, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’, the government must work in tandem with necessary bodies and agencies in bringing about an end to the recent university strike action. Albeit the rationality of their recent agitation for an increment in the salaries may not be reached at the moment considering the economic and financial turmoil the world is going through, their cry, however, for an upgrade of educational facilities should not be ignored.

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