By Femi Abbas
Last Tuesday, July 20, 2021, was Eidul-Adha day of year 1442 AH throughout the world. The Arabic word Eid means a festival of joy and festivities in Islam which reminds the religious ancestry of Prophet Ibrahim’s faith with reconfirmation.
It is the anticlimax of the last pillar of Islam called Hajj. EidulAdha was first observed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Makkah shortly after he was divinely ordained as a Messenger of Allah.
Were it possible for the dead to wake up from their graves at will, Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), the great son of Prophet Ya‘qub (Jacob), would have resurrected in Nigeria at the request of millions of hungry Nigerians. And, his mission would have been the interpretation of a dream similar to that of a Pharaoh of some millennia ago, which saved Egypt of yore from the scourge of a looming famine.
But alas, the absence of a Yusuf on the surface of the earth today has rendered the possibility of any solution to such a dream in this country hopeless. Despite unlimited human and material resources with which this so called ‘Giant of Africa’, is endowed, most of her citizens continue to grapple helplessly with a jaundiced economy like a centipede crawling sorrowfully into a brook of uncertainty through the path of ashes. When will this perennial debacle come to an end for a people who are eagerly waiting to hand over the baton of the present to the generations of the future?
While Muslims, all over the world, are supposed to be celebrating ‘Eidul-Adha’ with joy, in festivities, overwhelming majority of Nigerian Muslims are celebrating this same festival with a combination of hunger, fear and despair.
At the instance of unbridled avarice and aggrandizement of a few privileged Nigerians who are in government, the ingredients of festivities for majority of Muslims have been tacitly banished in this country. Thus, many Muslims are celebrating this year’s ‘Eidul-Adha’ in despair as usual.
This iron period in which consistent promise of eliminating corruption, rampancy of banditry and terrorism on the one hand and the scourge of hunger, starvation and abject poverty on the other, seems to be a coded omen in which a pleasant dream of the past is rapidly culminating in a painful nightmare. That is an indicator of indefinite despair for a hapless country.
Generally, today, there is nostalgia in the land, not only for the days of oil boom when life was relatively comfortable for all and sundry, but also for the era of abundant farm products when the thought of feeding without hardship was taken for granted by most citizens.
Nigerian Muslims and non-Muslims alike are, today, yearning for the return of those days when wives could confidently ask their husbands for festival gifts and children could demand for new dresses, shoes and wrist watches from their parents.
Those were the days when festival seasons were really festive and the graph of marriage carried some indices of value. They were the days of friendliness among neighbours, sincere wishes among colleagues, mutual confidence among spouses as well as general peace and tranquility in the society.
Now, those days are not only gone but seem to have gone forever.
A Couplet of Warning
Today, we are in a situation against which we had long been warned in a couplet rendered by an Arab poet who was quoting two disciples of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) i. e. Ubayyi Bn Ka’b and Abdullah Bn Mas’ud. The Couplet goes thus:
”This is the period in human life against which we had been warned through the admonitions of Ubayyi Bn Ka‘ab and Abdullah Bn Mas‘ud; it is in this period, as had been foretold, that a rejection of truth in its totality would become manifest while falsehood, corruption and betrayal of trust would be held aloft; should this period linger beyond now with its woes and tribulations, the world may soon assume a situation where people will neither rejoice over the birth of new babies nor grieve over the demise of close relatives”.
As Nigeria is fast becoming a dramatic entity mysteriously shrouded in coded parables, it may take an unprecedented revolution to dislodge some Nigerian economic vampires who are fund of subjecting the citizenry to that to irredeemable penury.
Ordinarily, in normal circumstances, a forward-looking country would have encouraged her citizens to ask some probing questions thus: Who are we? Where are we coming from? And where are we going from here? Those are some of the probing questions which all rational human beings should normally ask themselves randomly as a means of paving the way for progress.
But such questions have been rendered irrelevant in Nigeria because the circumstances of life in this country have changed the priorities of the ordinary citizens. The only question now in vogue, which virtually everybody in government seems to be asking incessantly, is as follows: ‘what personal benefit will I derive from this office?
That very question is the real drama that permanently engages the attention of Nigerian civil servants, the politicians, the legislators, the law enforcement agents and the judicial officers, in their quest for wealth through fraudulent means. It also is the question that robes Nigerian Police in a garment of open shamelessness with a banished conscience. It is the question that crowns money as a demigod which forbids human feeling. It is the question that fosters greed and fetters Nigeria, as a country, to the stake of endemic corruption. It is the question that presents mirage to Nigerians as the only valuable substance worthy of pursuit.
The Reality of Life
What can we say of a man who fixes his eyes on the sun but does not see it? Instead, he sees a chorus of flaming seraphim announcing a paroxysm of despair. That is the parable of the country called Nigeria. Like the Israelis of Moses’ time, Nigerians have become gypsies wandering aimlessly and wallowing in abject poverty in the midst of abundance. What else do we expect from Allah beyond the invaluable bounties with which He has blessed us?
Nigeria is not lacking in forest and arable savannah. She is rich in rivers, mineral resources and promixing mountains, all of which are great sources of wealth for people who are seeking reasonable comfort without self-deception. What this country lacks is a class of responsible and patriotic leaders who can sincerely highlight her priorities according to the yearnings of the ordinary people.
That food has now become a threat to Nigerians is an irony emanating from naivety engendered by massive corruption entrenched on her soil especially since 1999 when the current democracy first beamed a ray of hope on the people but which was turned into a forlorn by the politicians.
Cost of Governance
In Nigeria today, the cost of running the government alone is enough to render the country bankrupt. The retinue of federal ministers and a galaxy of Presidential and gubernatorial Advisers as well as the unlimited salaries and allowances for the legislators are the real causes of poverty in the country. Even America, with her huge economic resources, large population and financial wherewithal, does not live in such reckless opulence. Why must we have separate ministers or Commissioners for agriculture and water resources? Where are the federal and State government’s farms to justify that? Why must we retain an obnoxious immunity clause in our constitution for certain political demagogues to facilitate monumental corruption?
Besides al these, what informs the idea of the so-called constituency allowances running into billions of naira for our legislators without anything to show for it at a time when innocent women and children are crying for food and dying of hunger? No one would have thought, in 1999, that artificial hunger could be added to the abysmal level of poverty in Nigeria despite the unprecedented rise in price of oil in the international market at that time. The ubiquity of beggars and lunatics in our cities and towns nowadays is a confirmation of this assertion.
Style of Governance
Governance in Nigeria has become an artful trick adopted by a vicious political cabal to bamboozle the populace into blind submission.
Now, despite the undeniable fact that Nigeria has become a country without roads, without electricity, without functional without jobs for majority of able-bodied citizens and even without food on our tables, we are still being cajoled into believing that Nigeria, a country without coins, has a frontline role to play in the global economy. Isn’t that a deliberate and audacious deception? No country in history has ever been known to have achieved economic vibrancy by magic. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
A fire-brigade approach to food crisis in a country like Nigeria is a shameful reaction to an avoidable melancholy.
Yusuf (Joseph), the son of Ya’qub (Jacob), did not know that he could have any solution to a fundamental problem of a country other than his own. Neither did his brothers who sold him into slavery know that he could find solution to a major problem in another land. But the accident of history never ceases to play itself out. Without Yusuf, only Allah knows what the history of Egypt would have been today. And without a Pharaoh’s dream of drought, the story of Yusuf would have been totally different from what we came to know of it.
If Egypt had any major plight when Yusuf was in prison in that country, it was Pharaoh’s dream. It turned out that Yusuf’s imprisonment in Egypt was a blessing, not only for Egypt but also for Yusuf and his family. What could have been a historical repetition of that episode here in Nigeria, turned out to be a regrettable forlorn. The rest is left to history.
Irony of Life
It is ironic that people who live at the river bank can’t get water to drink when those living in the desert can find a reliable oasis to combat any drought. Given all the resources with which we are endowed, Nigerians should have no business with poverty let alone food crisis.
Effect of Capitalism
Capitalism which was once an economic ideology propelling mercantilism has moved a step forward, especially in Nigeria where official theft has become a profession. Capitalism is now a religion through which its adherents worship money. To such adherents, accountability is a mere riddle which only the poor may wish to unravel.
It is only in the interest of those in government, especially, those in the executive and legislative arms, who are most active in sharing public funds, to let the national wealth spread across board legitimately if only to avoid the current Nigerian elite situation where every house has become a prison in which the occupants are voluntarily self-jailed. To ignore the rule of law and shun justice in a land blessed with milk and honey is to cultivate trouble with insecurity in all its ramifications. “Allah will not change the situation of a community until the people in such a community change their evil attitude”. Q. 13:11
Although this year’s Eidul Adha has come and gone, nevertheless, the expression of gratitude to Allah continues by saying EID MUBARAK!