by Chinedu George Nnawetanma
Nevertheless, the insinuation that all the activities of the Federal Government of Nigeria should be ground to a halt until the Chibok girls are rescued is rather uncalled for and misguided.
A few days ago, I was going through a news article on a popular website about President Jonathan performing the groundbreaking ceremony of CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor’s Eagle Heights University in Delta State. What occurred to me while reading the piece was not the prospects of the addition of another stellar private tertiary institution to the country’s second-rate education system, but the cold shoulder it will receive from some hypercritical Nigerians. True to my prediction, the reactions in the comments section of the website did not disappoint.
It was awash with criticisms levelled against both the president and Pastor Oritsejafor. On the part of the president, he was accused of abandoning more pressing national issues to attend a “mere” groundbreaking ceremony (when he could have sent the minister for education or any other representative to do it), while Oritsejafor’s critics accused him of funding the institution with the largesse he got from excessive government patronage and the donations of the poor masses in his congregation who live on less than 350 naira a day. All sorts of unprintable words conveyed their anger as the embittered respondents picked on these two for that singular act – which ought to be seen as an accomplishment and a boost to the nation’s education system and to the host community.
A university, anywhere in the world, is supposed to be an indicator of economic and social advancement, more so in a country like Nigeria that is still grappling with the realities of development, or lack of it. In many climes it is seen as a lifeline for the country’s continued existence and economic competitiveness in the contemporary world. But, in this instance the reverse seems to be the case. The announcement of this ivory tower was met with a gratuitous rebuff at its very inception. The reason is not far-fetched, though.
The anger of the respondents is linked to the perceived questionable source of funding for the project and it’s, undoubtedly, something most people, including me, can relate to in a Nigeria where corruption is endemic and has been institutionalized. The muted consensus among them was that funds for the construction of the institution must have been cut from the proverbial national cake. But this is unsubstantiated and no-one can vouch for it. Such damaging utterances should be rather made with caution, especially when there is no proof to back it up.
Coming to the (non-)issue of President Jonathan abandoning more pressing issues (of insecurity, of course) in the country to grace the occasion; my take on the visit that never was has always been that the president ought to have gone to Chibok, from where the schoolgirls were taken to Sambisa forest. My reasons for this being that firstly, he should have been there to have a personal assessment of the situation of things in the region. Secondly, to empathize physically with the mothers, fathers, friends and relatives of the abducted schoolgirls and provide succour for them.; thirdly and most importantly, the presence of the commander-in-chief would have proved to the nation, his soldiers and the world at large that he is indeed not afraid of visiting the region as being suggested in some quarters. It would have gone a long way to demonstrate that the government and security agencies have not been overwhelmed by the terrorists.
Nevertheless, the insinuation that all the activities of the Federal Government of Nigeria should be ground to a halt until the Chibok girls are rescued is rather uncalled for and misguided. Nigeria cannot cease to function or exist, because of the actions of some bitter elements that are bent on ruining the country due to personal grievances with certain individuals in the country.
YES, THE CHIBOK GIRLS MUST BE BROUGHT BACK ALIVE – ALL OF THEM AND NOT A SINGLE ONE LEFT – but the notion that the government should be shut down and all resources channelled to confronting the high level of insecurity is not something anyone should advocate for at this point in time. There are many government agencies specifically charged with dealing with the country’s mounting insecurity problems and I believe they are doing something to that effect.
Nigerians should not take it upon themselves to level unfounded and unnecessary criticisms at their leaders. Though it may seem convenient to do so, it is good to know that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.
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