Fire on the Mountain

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After hearing “there is fire on the mountain”, the expected response would be “run run run”. This was exactly what the commercial motorcyclist otherwise called “okada” riders did when a van of policemen tried to arrest and of course, confiscate their bikes in a suburb of the FCT – Kubwa. My okada rider was lucky to have escaped the chase as I hired his service few seconds before the arrival of the men in black.

The current socioeconomic situation of Nigeria would ordinarily necessitate some running but the question is how far can we run, not forgetting the fact that just only a few of us can actually do the running. It is therefore not surprising that just as Asa said in her famous song Fire on the Mountain, “there is fire on the mountain but nobody seems to be on the run”, Nigerians do not seem to be running even as the fire on our mountain can be said to be increasing.

Unemployment, under-employment, insurgency and a host of other issues are continuously fuelling the fire on our mountain and it is only a matter of time before these fires graduate to become uncontrollable infernos. From the North to the South, able and agile Nigerian roam the streets everyday and if the adage “an idle hand is the devil’s workshop” is to come into play, then we can confidently say that the issue of boko haram, biafra, and the other forms of insurgency that currently confront the nation are just child’s play compared to what these idle and probably desperate youths can come up with.

Even as the federal government plans to pay a monthly stipend of N5,000 to every unemployed youth, it is worth noting that this will do little or nothing to rescue our situation as we all agree that it is actually not very feasible for an individual regardless of the age to survive on 5k monthly – just above 166 naira daily. The National Bureau of Statistics in 2014 estimated the number of unemployed youths – employable and unemployable, to be 5.3 million with 1.8 million graduates joining the Nigerian labour market yearly. By my calculations, this number should have risen to nothing less than 6.5 million even as some quarters believe that the actual figure of unemployed persons in Nigeria should be above 20 million. This means five thousand naira per unemployed youths would result in the government spending a minimum of 32 billion naira monthly, same money that can be spent on capital projects that would have multiplier effects on the economy and most especially, the unemployment situation in the country.

The statistics above are not only alarming; they are pathetic and annoying at the same time considering that Nigeria has over 30 million hectares of arable land with less than 40% of this land being utilised, no thanks to the rural-urban migration in search for greener pasture and of course, the exploitation of crude oil.

Thankfully, the price of crude oil is falling globally and this should actually be a blessing to the nation as we can at least for once, look for alternate source of revenue with agriculture being at the forefront.

Nigerians need more than the mere lip-service synonymous with previous administrations if the Fire on our Mountain, Nigeria is to be quenched for good.

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