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The Economics of Comrade Muhammad and “Ile Arugbo”

 

By ‘Tope Fasua

Let Uncle Ramoni think again and make amends. Let the president think seriously of Comrade Muhammad’s agony and perhaps send him a message. That is one great PR opportunity that the president’s handlers have passed by but they are well-known for getting into roforofo fights and cursing out citizens on social media. The style of engagement of these current handlers is simply toxic.
I am looking for a man. I didn’t get his surname properly. All I know is that he addresses himself as Comrade Muhammad and he most likely lives in Jigawa State. The man speaks very eloquently and his command of the English vocabulary is quite remarkable. His speech also reveals a refreshing level of honesty, especially in our nation where deception of all types have been elevated to the level of piety. I am looking for Comrade Muhammad’s authentic bank account number actually, as I believe that I and hundreds of Nigerians should be able to bless him monetarily and also bless his business. However, since I made this call on Facebook and Twitter – weeks ago – I haven’t been lucky. Still I’m searching.
The other reason I am searching for Comrade Muhammad is that I am fascinated by his economics. Hear what he had to say recently, in a clip which went viral on social media:
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen. As usual my name is Comrade Muhammad Aldoriki (unclear). Sir, I’m choosing this very medium to suggest to Mr. President and commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, if it’s possible, I want my share out of (the) 2020 Budget. I don’t need roads. I have no motor. I have never ‘drive’ a car. I ‘was’ above 60 years old. I have never ‘drive’ a car. I never ‘own’ a car. I don’t want hospital. I don’t want electricity. I don’t want all these utilities, due to the fact that I need my money. If it can be possible, I want the federal government to extract my share if I’m a bonafide Nigerian, to send it through Jigawa State governor, and donate it to me as I am suffering from financial misappropriation. I don’t have money. I’m not a criminal. I never indulge and involve myself in any crime. I don’t want to be tajidafa (unclear). I don’t want to be an armed robber. I don’t want to be a cattle rustler or Boko Haram insurgency. I want to transact legal business. As such, if it is possible, I want Mr. President and commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, GCFR, President Muhammadu Buhari to please give me my money in cash, to start this very noble business (pointing to the daintily balanced sheaves of clothes on his head), as I had stayed in contarian, (unclear), situation, living in squalor. I am squatting. As such I’m begging. I’m soliciting.”
Many dismissed his thoughts as the rantings of a poor, unstable mind. But I believe he should be taken more seriously. Muhammad needs his share of the 2020 budget, which he has respectfully demanded from President Buhari. I am sure he hasn’t been accorded any response from the Villa, or from any of the battery of presidential spokesmen. That is how we are in this country. We never learn from everywhere that we should. Yet the Holy Books admonish that we learn, even from the babble of mere babies.
All the spending on so-called infrastructure, does it reach the real common man in Nigeria, who hears of billions and trillions of naira but who continues to live in desperate poverty from one year to another? These huge amounts just fly above the heads of many millions of Nigerians, who crawl out of their squalid ghettos every morning and struggle to find N100 to feed.
Does the Comrade have a point? All the spending on so-called infrastructure, does it reach the real common man in Nigeria, who hears of billions and trillions of naira but who continues to live in desperate poverty from one year to another? These huge amounts just fly above the heads of many millions of Nigerians, who crawl out of their squalid ghettos every morning and struggle to find N100 to feed. So if that is the case, don’t these desperate people have a right to, at some point, demand for their share of the national wealth, if they ‘are bonafide citizens of Nigeria’, as Comrade Muhammad has most touchingly asked? From a deeper insight, the good man has only tried to call attention, in his own little way, to the fact that there are really no plans for the struggling man or woman or child in this country. For instance, government builds roads and expect that just because they have done so (and pocketed 50 per cent of the funds involved), people will suddenly become productive, find capital and buy wares to transport to the market using those roads. Often, it never happens that way. I acknowledge that the Buhari government has made efforts in the area of social services and continues to do so, but most of those efforts have been mired in corruption and inefficiencies from those who are meant to run them. I have written about the collapse, or rather the head on collision between N-Power and the School Feeding programmes. We warned about this when they started. No one listened because there was money to be made. Now both programmes are a big joke.
The Comrade has also unwittingly called attention to the availability of care, especially for the aged in Nigeria. The man says he has suffered from financial misappropriation. He could mean misappropriation of what was due to him over the years by successive governments. He could also mean his own financial misappropriation, which has now confined him to squatting in squalor (his own words). We all make mistakes, don’t we? But a man has cried out, even as he balanced a sheaf of clothes on his head, begging in his almost impeccable English language, that he could use his – how much is that? – slightly over N50,000 share of the 2020 budget for injecting his business into greatness, because he will never indulge in crime and criminality in his life. I believe he needs at least a million naira that many of us his ‘admirers’ could contribute into his account in a jiffy, to continue to encourage him along his honest ways.
The other matter concerns the old women of Ilorin, who recently cried out that Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Ramoni, they called him) should not demolish a house built – and called ‘Ile Arugbo’ (old people’s home) – a long time ago by the departed Oloye Olusola Saraki. From what I have seen from the viral clip on social media, Ramoni has already scored an own goal, except he can show that he has bigger plans for these old women, some of who were so angry they almost cursed him – and some did threaten spiritual consequences. The governor went ahead and demolished the house all the same, and it is difficult to divorce his actions from the political vendetta to rub out the Sarakis. It is the local political equivalent of mafia rub-outs when one Capo-di-tuti moves in on another. Governor Ramoni had better have his own faction of old women who he feeds and clothes, else the ‘heads’ of those women may ‘catch’ him (as our people say). It may have already anyhow, because as I have noted elsewhere, I cannot remember any governor or president since our 1999 return to democracy that is not lampooned, cursed or dismissed today. Most of them cannot even bear to be seen in public places, as the masses could descend on them. There is a curse to public service in Nigeria already, that the least one can do is avoid heavy issues such as the demolition of Ile Arugbo. Say, if the issue was infraction on government land, I would prefer that the governor demolishes part of Saraki’s house if he must, than demolish that local answer to social services.
Saraki had a ‘one-up’ over his political contemporaries when he cornered the old people – especially women – of Ilorin. Anyone who does not know that women are more powerful than men is living on another planet. People revere, listen to, celebrate and respect their mothers much more than their fathers. By making that provision for the old women of Ilorin, the old Saraki captured the heart of Ilorin politics and laid the bed for his coming generations. Anyone who is angry with that should create their own equivalent, not demolish and render some of the women stranded.
Just in case you are not convinced about the need for things like Ile-Arugbo, dear readers, we are talking of a country where governors, and even state legislators as well as their federal counterparts, have manufactured laws that pay them for life, huge sums, on the sweat, tears and blood of these same old people.
We have gone past the curve of complaining about politicians teaching our people to be dependent. The mismanagement of our politics and economics over the decades has made that fact a permanent feature of our society. We should be worried if our young people are also dependent on handouts, and for that, we have time on our hands to make a drastic change. Are we working actively on that change? I doubt this. There is however nothing to teach 60-90 years old women about standing on their own. Even the men at that age need handouts and by every means, they should be given. That is what societies and nations do. Look at South Africa. Monthly payments to the vulnerable – even to children through their mothers – is a major chunk of the budget. Here? Everyone is virtually on their own.
Just in case you are not convinced about the need for things like Ile-Arugbo, dear readers, we are talking of a country where governors, and even state legislators as well as their federal counterparts, have manufactured laws that pay them for life, huge sums, on the sweat, tears and blood of these same old people. What entitles a governor to N300 million pension yearly, plus two mansions in Lagos and another in a city of their choosing, six bullet-proof luxury cars every two years, a battalion of policemen to guard them, their wives, children and concubines for life? What entitles our governors to all these? What did they ever do for us, apart from hijacking and stealing elections and sitting on our taxes and resources for four to eight years?
Let Uncle Ramoni think again and make amends. Let the president think seriously of Comrade Muhammad’s agony and perhaps send him a message. That is one great PR opportunity that the president’s handlers have passed by but they are well-known for getting into roforofo fights and cursing out citizens on social media. The style of engagement of these current handlers is simply toxic. Let the rest of us learn from these two incidences, and have a heart.
‘Tope Fasua, an economist, author, blogger, entrepreneur, and recent presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), can be reached through topsyfash@yahoo.com.

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