June 12 : Democracy without dividends? - Punch Newspapers
The most widely read newspaper in Nigeria
18 June 2021“Nigerian doctors are desperate to leave because we have not been paid for five months and we have bills to pay. We lost 19 doctors during COVID-19 and yet no insurance claim has been paid to the families”–President, National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi,
USAAfrica Dialogue, June 12, 2021Contained in what we may loosely call the June 12 movement are the principle of free and fair elections, the rejection of the rule by cabals, military or civilian, commitment to the abolition or significant reduction of poverty, and a quickening of good governance. Recalling the magnificent civil society struggles regarding the anti-annulment protests, elder statesman, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, lamented recently that what we have now is “not the democracy we fought for”. This speaks to the betrayal of hopes, false trails and disappointments that our democracy, though it survives, has brought around. Doubtless, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), deserves kudos for immortalising MKO Abiola and making June12 Democracy Day instead of May 29. Encouraging as that is, the ultimate deciders of his legacy and place in history will be to what extent he has acted as a game-changer to the repetitive failure and mediocrity of governance in Nigeria.
Let us begin with a simple, troubling question. How many Nigerians were able to listen to Buhari’s broadcast of June 12 to the nation? They cannot be too many, considering that in the last two weeks, power outages have become rampant and insistent virtually in every part of the country. A recent report in one of our newspapers captures the woes and throes of the situation with a report headlined, ‘Nigerians to Federal Government: Take urgent action on power crisis’. The narrative portrays vividly the anguish of electricity consumers across the country as they struggle with the drop in generation, transmission and distribution of power. Hard hit are Small and Medium Scale Enterprises whose profit margins have been wiped out by the unexplained drop in electricity. For sure, this is not a new problem, the issue is that no solution has been found to it despite repeated promises, and it is getting worse. headtopics.com
According to Nairametrics, over $12bn was spent in 2019 by Nigerians on generators and fuel up from $12bn the previous year. Even the annual generation of electricity which for several years was put roughly at 3,807 megawatts had since fallen below that minimal threshold. Naturally, Nigerians are forced to compare themselves to countries like South Africa, with a population of less than 60 million but generated last year over 51,000megawatts. Do you want to look at Brazil? Roughly the same population as Nigeria but which generates over 100,000megawatts? The issue, therefore, is that it is vain to continue to reel off initiatives of the regime to turn the tide knowing full well that politics and the heat of political competition will take over the governance space anytime from the end of this year.
On present terms, it is unlikely that the familiar story of consumer woes in this area will be altered to any significant degree. Take another area where expectations and promises have far outstripped results, namely, the health sector and you will shudder at how poorly we continue to tag along. The opening quote sourced from a spokesperson for resident doctors conveys the worsening plight of some of our best trained medical personnel. The revelation was made in the context of the growing exodus of Nigerian-trained doctors to the United Kingdom and other countries. Perusing the website of the General Medical Council of the UK, the narrative informs that 200 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed in the UK in April and May this year alone. Going back 10 months earlier, the story makes known that the number of Nigerian-trained doctors jumped from 7,870 to 8,384 in less than a year.
Granted, Nigerians can take some comfort from the fact that doctors trained in our country can still find jobs in the UK, Canada and other countries. But please bear in mind that these are doctors who graduated in earlier years when the deteriorating standard of education had not reached the extent to which it has since fallen. As an illustration, the daughter of a family friend who left one of our University Teaching Hospitals three months ago, had graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University over a decade ago. So, it is cold comfort for anyone to luxuriate in the fact that medical training remains superb or up to par in the country. Beyond that however, is the fact that the brain drain in the medical sector is increasing at a time when the country needs to harness its human resources because of the fright and possibility of new pandemics.Read more: The Punch Newspapers »
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