Android technology and Smartphone’s have seen an impressive growth in recent years. The reason is not farfetched; Android is so easy to use, it’s special and intuitive, so there is no surprise that more and more people prefer it.
However, there are still issues when we expected the less. For example, there have been numerous reports of Android devices going to sleep and then not waking up regardless of how many times users press the power button.
This issue is known as the sleep of death and can be the result of various problems with the kernel, Android tweaks, an app, or even with the device’s radios. I’m however not discussing mobile technology today, but serious issues that borders on the state of our nation, especially in the areas of citizens’ awareness and engagement.
The Federal Ministry of Finance under Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – some years ago – started the practice of publishing details of allocations from the Federation Account to all the three tiers of government in Nigeria. This practice regularly furnishes Nigerians with information on the country’s finances and how it is allocated.
It was tactically supposed to serve as a springboard for Nigerians to start holding their elected leaders to account and question how public funds are spent. But sadly – and except in some rare cases – that never happened. Even civil society organisations missed the opportunity of picking up the gauntlet.
I’m however aware of an individual who took the pains to utilise this information to better the lot of his people. For years, this individual – a Christian – fed widows and orphans in his community. He was doing this until he stumbled on the allocation for his local government in the newspaper. He approached a contact in the finance department to furnish him with the local government monthly wage bill and other financial dealings for six months prior to the publication.
He was shocked to find out that after the payment of salaries, the local government does nothing else, not even the construction of a mere culvert! Challenged by this he decided to vie for the chairmanship of his local government.
He approached this writer to assist in drawing up a campaign blueprint; especially in the areas of youth and women empowerment and the construction of feeder roads to assist in the evacuation of farm produce. Together we approached two local construction firms who gave us separate bill estimates, including maintenance for three years. From the figures released and that presented by his contact, the local government has the capacity to construct such feeder roads.
Because he has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he has the interest of his people at heart; he threw his hat into the election ring. Going by his antecedents, we all believed he’d win the election until the opposition started a malicious rumour two week before election. They alleged that the candidate belong to a “blood sucking cult” which was why he has been engaged in feeding widows and orphans as a way of atoning for his sins!
Knowing the way such things play out in our communities, he subsequently lost the election on that “blood sucking” ground! Suffice it to say the rot in his local government – like in most local government areas – has continued to date.
The questions that often plague to my mind whenever I recollect that story is these: why are Nigerians not concerned about how public funds are spent? Why, for instance, would indigenes of a local government not question their chairman who has not carried out any infrastructure improvement despite collecting hundreds of millions of Naira? Some villages in Nigeria are totally cut off from civilization, so what does it take to have graders create a passage – not a road – for such villages? Why workers and pensioners are not paid is often beyond comprehension.
There were serious agitations from primary school teachers when the idea was mooted to transfer the payment of their salaries from the state to local government. They knew quite well they may not get paid for upward of one year. They’ve been there before that was why they chose not to sleep the sleep of death.
If we move over to the states and federal level there would be barrage of questions to ask. But unfortunately, most Nigerians are sleeping the sleep of death. Instead of applauding Okonjo-Iweala for her deft move in publishing what each tier of government receives, mischief makers back then often deflect public attention from interrogating issues by concentrating on ethnic or religious issues or question what she does with her own allocations.
But while we all sleep the sleep of death we should realise that there are about 13 million Nigerian children who will never attend primary school! Yes, you read right 13 million. For the record, that is perhaps the highest number of any country in the world today. Just imagine; that is more than the entire population of the Republic of Benin. Let’s just imagine that some may be lucky to attend primary schools, among these “lucky” ones, millions do not attend class regularly and the poorest don’t make it to secondary school. They terminate in between Basic 4 and 6.
As I reflect, I ask myself where would these 13 million children be in the next five years, or rather where are they now? It is on record that about 70% of those who manage to write WAEC/NECO each year fail. Again, where do those who fail go? About 1.6 million candidates write UTME every year, and only 450,000 places are available in the universities. Where do the rest go? These are real questions we ought to be asking because these children live amongst us.
But you know what? Why should we be “bothered” about a “mere” 13 million children when there are more “important” issues like who are those that would be contesting in the 2019 elections, which region or zones would they come from?
As I punch away on my laptop writing this, I consulted my crystal ball and I can see clearly into 10 years from now the foot soldiers of Boko Haram or the evil that may materialise in another name. I see the future thug, kidnapper, armed robber, ritualist etc. Look carefully around you, has this not started manifesting? For those of us opportune to live through saner periods of our existence, the wickedness and depravity that we see almost on a daily basis is beyond comprehension.
I vividly recollect how my late Dad took me to the park in Ibadan to board a vehicle to Igbajo, Osun State when I got admission into secondary school. I was there with my entire school itinerary – locker, mattress, portmanteau, bucket etc. Can I attempt that feat with my son in this age? Certainly not, I will have kidnappers and ritual killers on my mind.
How can we be comfortable that in the year 2017 there are still over 13 million children who will never see the four walls of a school? They will never learn to read and write. Over 13 million of them! If this does not tug at our conscience, nothing else will. What does I really take to ensure that majority of our children have at least basic education?
How did we get here in the first place? Our today is like this because of what we failed to do yesterday. But what are we doing today to prevent a more tragic tomorrow? We are already reaping the fruits of the wickedness in high places. The doomsday is no longer a prediction it is now a reality.
Population estimates have it that about 91 million Nigerians are under the age of 30. Are we aware that this is more than the combined populations of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso?
I’d like to close out with this from the late Indian statesman, Mahatma Gandhi: ”There are seven sins in the world: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice and politics without principle.”
This great and timeless quote is a clincher any day. Except for “science without humanity” six of the sins are comfortably with us. How long shall we continue in our sleep of death?