Wailing wailer’s view of Ambode’s 5000 buses


I am led to make a very unusual gesture: Give free, unsolicited, advice! You may thank me later.
In my newly-chosen line of duty, I do not talk unless I am paid to do so; you can therefore understand the reluctance with which I am making this sacrifice.
What friendly advice do you need if you desperately desire to be your brother’s keeper especially if that will include sacrificially taking the bullet so that your dear brother – and sister – can live?
That, quite obviously, has been the sole desire of Nigeria’s political leaders since forever, particularly since the return of civil rule – not democracy o!, civil rule – thank you! – in 1999.
Good men and women that they are, our leaders across party lines are united in sacrificial giving; that type that Christians of the Pentecostal hue sermonize about as a sure route to miraculous abundance. Sometimes, ten percent of your income – tithe – may not be enough to move God to do spectacular things in your life; so, as a form of bribe to the Almighty, you need to give ninety percent, or all on you. God will reward you abundantly. Even if you have to trek home after the sacrificial bribe of dropping all money on you, the miracle will begin very shortly, your children will not die of hunger. Give it a try, you will see that ours is a God of wonder.
That principle has guided Nigerian leaders since 1999, and we the citizens are an eloquent testimony to how potent sacrificial giving is. Today, thanks to the foresight of our leaders who have been offering sacrificial gifts to our neighbours by developing the economies of those neighbours, by some miracle those acts of uncommon kindness will result in jobs and more jobs at home, one day. Trust me.
Since many Nigerian youths are lazy anyway, as a deeply perspective leader recently told the world, it is best to use the country’s abundant finances to build the economies of those less-endowed nations, particularly in Europe, America and Asia.
A prayer warrior and former leader reportedly once told the world that Nigeria’s problem was not money but how to spend it. Some great minds thereafter swooped on the country and offered tips that were not too dissimilar from the one I am giving here. They advised Nigeria to share money – yes, simply share money among the citizens! – by raising the salaries of civil servants, even when they did not ask for it, so that the people could buy many motorcycles and luxury cars from the less-privileged economies in Europe and America.
As men and women with listening ears, our kind leaders approved the Udoji awards. Shortly after, new, glittering automobiles dotted the land. We no longer needed to build more rail lines for mass transportation of people and goods. Several men took new wives; while the women acquired a new taste for imported fabrics; and Nigerians continued to spread the gospel of good life all over the world.
Well, the tradition of wasteful spending has to continue somehow, some 40 years after.
How do we continue the noble act of helping to build the economies of those other less endowed countries in Europe, America and now Asia, our leaders have apparently inquired. So, they continue to ignore the local market each time a need arises for mega spending!
Quite ingenuous!
Consider the recent disclosure by the administration of our amiable Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, that it had just taken delivery of the first batch of wonders on wheels that will soon replace those rickety yellow buses that deface the state.
Great initiative.
My friendly advice: The governor should simply ignore the local market as I suspect he has done in this instance, and help our poor neighbours wherever they may be by patronizing foreign automobile manufacturers.
A cursory check of best prices for luxury buses on alibaba.com indicates that the ones that caught my fancy go for between $39,000 and $100,000, roughly between N14 million and N36 million. For China-made products o.
Alibaba says it has the capacity to supply 1000 units of a brand per year, so it may take the company some five years to meet the modest desire of the Lagos State government for 5000 units.
Do the Maths. A minimum of N14 million in 5,000 places, should give some princely sum in helping the economies of those poor, suffering neighbours. That is the kind of money that the Yoruba – lazy folks, if you ask me – would describe as oke owo aimoye (countless sum)! What makes it aimoye (countless)? Will you sit down and do the arithmetic, boy! Well, oke owo aimoye will suffice for the Yoruba.
Our needy automobile manufacturing neighbours are hundreds of thousands of kilometres away, yes. But we are in a global community, so their problem is our problem. They need help in creating jobs for their people, we have the money that we don’t need. So, it is our bounden duty, great commission by the Almighty, to be our brother’s keeper, to be the compulsive giver.
A professional critic, one of those lazy souls who do not appreciate good things, exclaimed on learning about the 5000 buses in Lagos. “Are the buses manufactured in Nigeria, what is the local content of the purchase?” he inquired, adding: “ If they are imported, the Governor must review the contract and look inward immediately.”
I laughed and shook my head in pity for the professional critic. He is surely one of those who do not understand that our leaders are on a mandate to help others build their economies.
How do I explain to the retard that a little kindness makes the world livable for us all? Yes, the photographs splashed on the social media by the government suggest that the Lagos buses are imported. But why should we buy that number of buses from local manufacturers? Why should we empower those who are already too wealthy as Nigerian companies?
But my friend was not satisfied. An atrocious thinker, he said: “If the government truly desires revamping our economy, it should look the way of the auto-industry. Virtually all parts of a vehicle are mega-businesses. Tyre manufacturing companies have all collapsed in Nigeria, vehicle furniture makers are idle, windscreen producers of yore are now job seekers. Paints manufacturers will get huge orders, while other companies will spring up to manufacture spark plugs, steering wheels, car radios and the about 100 – yes, 100! – other parts of a vehicle.”
My response was cryptic: “When then?”
My friend then launched into history: “In his first coming as military ruler, General Olusegun Obasanjo popularised the Buy Nigeria slogan and dutifully identified with the Peugeot brand. When he returned as civilian President, 20 years later, however, he succumbed to the allure of foreign-made cars. “
Again, I was unimpressed by his efforts. But the lazy youth continued: “State Governors joined the rat race, with tons and tons of foreign brands dotting the landscape; the executive, legislature and judicial officers cruising in imported cars, made-in-Nigeria computers are derided, fabrics scorned, they all, bloody hypocrites, lament heavy job losses in the country! Young graduates roam the streets everyday in search of non-existent jobs. The jobs that would have been created in the about 100 – I repeat, yes, 100! – companies that are tied to the auto industry, not to talk of the service outfits like banks and the insurance sector, are left hanging in the air – or, better still, in the garages of the elite.”
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs, he continued ranting.
“Second base, joor” I replied.
But he was not done.
“If the high number of vehicles that are being imported for the foreign tastes of our rulers in the different federal and state ministries, as well as in local government council areas across the country, is considered, it will be crystal clear why there are no jobs in Nigeria.”
My friend urged me to take a look at the junkyards of the BRT, as well as similar public transport schemes across the country, the thousands of buses there that have become unserviceable and the hundreds of millions of Naira that had been thrown into the ocean.
“The governor should take the lead on this. I can imagine the economic impact that the purchase of 5000 buses for Lagos roads will have on the finances of Innosons Motors, or Buscar Nigeria Limited, or VON Automobiles, and the healthy competition that this will engender among the moneyed class.
“President Muhammadu Buhari can, and should, take the lead on this. The Presidency should make it a duty to buy only made in Nigeria vehicles, followed by all ministries. Let states and local governments toe the line. You will see how quickly our unemployment rates will come down.”
I simply shook my head knowing that my friend is another wailing wailer who does not understand our divine mandate of beginning charity abroad.
• Olujimi, a legal practitioner, lives in Lagos

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