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A Tale Of Two Looters — By Gbemi Adebajo

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To me, the aptest depiction of the events that transpired after the Lekki Shootings is an illustration captured by a newspaper artist and captioned, “A Tale of Two Looters”. While some might be tempted to think that I am about to describe two hoodlums: one who got away with a Samsung TV and cartons of Indomine noodles and the other who was apprehended and promptly dealt with, I am not.

My tale of two looters is first about the original looter “ogbonge” looter. Let’s call him looter A. For decades, ensconced in his agbada, looter A has raped and pillaged Nigeria from the comfort of his office.

Personally, I think of Looter A and his likes as armed bandits parading themselves as politicians and not as politicians who just happen to be corrupt. These bandits are recycled every few years, from local government to state government, from state to federal government, and believe or not, from the federal government back to the state.

These bandits are our friends and neighbors, they give us contracts, their kids are in the same schools like ours and we attend the same churches and mosques as them. We are not necessarily their best friends, but we cannot afford to be their enemies either. When we must engage them, disdainful as we find it, we acquiesce to the unnegotiable rubbing of palms that is an accepted prerequisite for getting anything done with government. As we say in Nigeria, “how for do”?

Then there is the other looter. Let us call him, you guessed it, Looter B.

A low-level oraisa type. The jobless hoodlum at the lowest rung of MC Oluomo’s NURTW.

The kind of “miscreant” that hangs outside parties hailing guests as they leave and waiting for any of them to let down their guard for one minute so he can strike.

A phone, a wallet, jewelry, a wristwatch, he will snatch it off you faster than you can blink. Then, he will turn around and ask you to pay him to find the property that he just stole from you.

To us, the Lekki shootings were just an excuse for him to take his low-life ways to a new level of low, and as we venture out and see the destruction that he unleashed in the days following October 20th, 2020, our disdain for him as grown but should it?

I am sure by now; you are wondering who are these ‘we”? We are the people who rightly say, I have not stolen from government o. I am just here doing the best I can for me and my family to survive. We are the ones who have come to accept Nigeria for what it is and while we all criticize the decrepit state of the nation, the adaptable beings that we are, we have found alternatives to make life better for ourselves, enjoyable even.

Our generators blare into action the minute power is out; where government schools have failed us, we have our choice of private schools to send our children to and when we find that the high-fee schools we have resorted to are not delivering to expectation, we package our kids and ship them off to “the abroad”.

We dig our own boreholes and put up our own street lights. When we get sick, we find well-trained returnee doctors to tend to us and when the available tools limit their skills, again, there is “the abroad”.

For us, the harshness of Nigerian life is ameliorated by a never-ending supply of cheap labor from a permanent underclass of citizens. They are our drivers and nannies, our washmen and security guards, our cooks, stewards, and cleaners.

We are the ones in between Looters A and B but unfortunately, our perspective of the two of them is distorted. If it is true that as human beings, we can care deeply, even selflessly about those we know (our spouses, children, brothers, sisters, friends), but our empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight. Then while looter A is known to us, we see him as a mere inconvenience, a necessary evil at worst, Looter B on the other hand, is to us, a faceless man.

We have no empathy for his predicament instead, we see him as someone who is actively trying to destroy the life we’ve managed to build against all odds. For this reason, we have squarely directed our anger at him but should we?

The fact is looter A is the one who destroyed the foundation on which our lives should have been built before we had a chance to start building. He is the one who has stripped Nigeria to the bone and in so doing, forged an environment that created the monster that we see in looter B.

An environment that stifles and warps any gifts endowed by his creator, one that daily chips away at his humanity and in turn, expects nothing less than a quiet acceptance of hopelessness from him. We refuse to understand why he cannot show the same level of enthusiasm for the system as we have learned to do. The same system that is hell-bent on destroying him?

Have we ever stopped to wonder what looter B’s life would have been like if the money that looter A has stolen had been used to build world-class schools, universities, hospitals, training colleges? As it ever occurred to us that this monster might not exist if looter A had behaved differently? Instead, as we continue in our journey of adaptation, we suck up to one looter and show utmost disdain for the other. We have done these things for so long, that our psyche has come to accept it as a natural state of being. It is not.

A lot is riding on how we interpret the events of October 2020. We can take the easy road and continue our chit chat about “hoodlums looting the hard built businesses of hard-working people” or we can start to see that our survival as a people depends on our ability to create a Nigeria that offers the same educational opportunities that we have created for our children, to looter B and his children after him.

Although the concept of a country that provides equal opportunities for ALL of its citizens regardless of birth demographic sounds great in theory, it is alien to our practice. Equal opportunities mean that government facilities are so good, everyone uses them.

Local government chairmen ride the bus to work, governors use state hospitals, the senator’s children attend public schools.

Yes, it means that my nanny and I go to the same hospital when we have malaria, and she does not have to rely on my magnanimity to pay for her healthcare.

My driver can choose the same doctor like me, and if he gets to the clinic before me, the doctor will see him first. And pls, we need to stop this “oga sir” mentality that panders to everyone in a position of leadership because it is what prevents us from asking the hard questions of our leaders, but I digress.

I know by now you are thinking, “They have come o”, Abeg this is Nigeria, get real! I ask why not? Some say that our people are so bad that this new Nigeria can never exist. I hope we all agree that the people in the countries that we run to, do not have a genetic mutation that makes them better suited for nation-building.

In fact, countries like Rwanda have shown us that one generation can transform a country from abject failure to budding success. Others say, Nigerian leaders are bad but for the country to change, the people must also change.

Wole Soyinka said something very profound many years ago. “when the rot is so evident at the top, nothing that happens at the bottom should be a surprise to anyone”.

Granted the people must change but lasting change can only happen if we first make a change at the top.

Remember, Rwanda did not exchange its citizenry for another that was genetically modified for national development.

No, all it did was change leadership. Nigeria has reached that point where it must change if it is going to survive and it is this real change of leadership, not just a swapping of one set of bandits for another, but a complete change of values starting from the topmost levels of level of government downwards, that those of us who have a voice to speak must cry out loudly for until it becomes our reality. We must be unrelenting in our cry for change because if we do not, for us, destruction is a matter of when not if.

BIG STORY

Nigeria Lacks Space To Store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine —- NIMR

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says there is not enough space at the moment to store the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which are expected to arrive next week.

The Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.

Salako revealed that Nigeria had freezers in different parts of the country to store the Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees centigrade.

He, however, said most of these freezers were occupied and were storing medical supplies which also need to be stored at a low temperature.

Responding to a question, Salako said, “Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers, and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?

“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.”

When asked if other facilities besides NIMR could hold such vaccines, he said, “There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”

Salako said storage was the minor problem, adding that the major challenge would be how to transport the vaccines at the temperature of -70 to rural areas.

The NIMR boss argued that in the future, Nigeria may need to buy other brands that do not require such low temperatures like Pfizer.

Salako noted that other brands like Oxford/AstraZeneca could be stored at normal freezer temperature while the Russian vaccine could also be stored at a temperature not as low as Pfizer.

He said, “The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money.

“AstraZeneca would have been better because it would stay at normal freeze temperature and I think even Russian vaccines can be stored at the same temperature but I think the government is going with Pfizer because the World Health Organisation has given it an emergency approval.

“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”

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Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina

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The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.

Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.

The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.

Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.

He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?

“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”

The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.

“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.

“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.

He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.

 

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JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18

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The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.

This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.

Details later…

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