Nigeria: Land of Wastage By Abimbola Lagunju

Nigeria wastes everything it touches. Wastage is an ideological, political, governmental and existential philosophy in our country.

Nigeria wastes lives. See the statistics of infant and under-five mortality rates, pregnancy related deaths, and youth and adult death figures. Ill-equipped health facilities, armed bandits, insurgents, bad roads, bad water and security forces take their turns to waste lives. Reading about violent and untimely deaths in the newspapers is a daily menu – building collapses on people, some gun others down, someone throws or detonates a bomb, a tanker spills its fuel and roasts other road users, a mad bus driver somersaults on the road, hospital mismanages a patient, and many other woes that bring life to an end. Lives are wasted at enormous rates in Nigeria. Life almost has zero value. No one cares.

Nigeria wastes its natural resources. No one seems to know exactly how much oil comes out of Nigeria on a daily basis. Whatever revenue is earned is wasted. Gas is flared. Oil is spilled when not stolen. Sea-life, which many countries depend upon, not only for food, but also for income, is wasted. Low-grade and formalin-loaded fish is then imported for public consumption. We have no idea of the number of trees felled a day in this country. Our rivers are polluted. Soil erosion is considered normal.

This country wastes even God-given oxygen. No one controls dangerous emissions by factories. Those who live in the neighborhood of cement factories across Nigeria breathe any other thing but oxygen. No one cares. Dust from untarred roads, plied by smoking vehicles of forgotten dates of manufacture, convoyed by numberless motorcycles, has relegated oxygen in the cities to history books. No one seems to know what it means to breathe unpolluted air.

Nigeria wastes its own infrastructure. All major infrastructure either built by the States or the Federal Government invariably get stuck before they reach service level. Then they lay waste. Steel companies get built half-way and then get sold off to cannibals, who strip them to the bones. Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where telephony has been reduced to a nuisance of dangling wires and broken poles. Nitel was wasted. I was dismayed during a recent visit to Warri to learn that the multi-million dollar infrastructure that Shell Company built in Warri has been abandoned to all types of reptiles after the company pulled out. A monumental waste.

Justice is wasted in Nigeria. Justice is bartered and sold. It has been let out of court rooms and it wanders in the market place, where criminals and the guardians of justice hag over its price. It is handcuffed to the tree of perpetual injunctions and interminable adjournments where it wastes away. Justice is as much a victim as other victims of injustice. In addition to genocide crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the ICC should consider introducing Crime Against Justice in its books.

Nigeria wastes hope. Hope that things will be better in the future is no longer a dream. No one has such dreams any longer. And that is why some hold on tightly to the past. They romanticize the days when it appeared there was hope. Very few people, if any at all believe in the future of Nigeria or the competence of governance. Elections have been reduced to a change of batons between the devil and the Red Sea. Either way, one loses. And that is why many sell their votes for anything tangible during elections. They prefer cash to nebulous campaign promises. Hope is bartered and then slaughtered. The buyers of votes are the murderers of hope. The sellers of hope are their unwary accomplices. Done away with earthly hope of a functional society, the sellers of hope flock to religious houses, hoping for a miraculous way to keep their heads above water in a hopeless society. Their religious leaders, who are in cohorts with the murderers of hope, oblige them. They hook them on heavenly hope and empty their pockets. They take back the sellers’ earnings from the sale of their earthly hope.

Nigeria wastes brains. Parents train their children in universities, polytechnics and technical schools and put them at the disposal of the country. Nigeria ignores the huge potential in these graduates. These smart graduates then export themselves, legally or illegally, to Europe, the United States and other parts of the world to practice their trade. There in these countries, some of these bright people rise to great heights and we read of them in the newspapers.  However, for every successful one, there are many other Nigerian professionals wasting away doing menial jobs. Nigeria is not bothered. The country is satisfied with the waste. Does the Nigerian government know how many doctors, engineers and other professionals we have in other countries?

A Premium Times report of 12th December, 2016 says, “President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea. The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.” Unfair to European countries!? No Sir! It is unfair to Nigeria, Mr. President. That is brain and muscle waste at its worst! The report further states that “an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016,” and this number does not include those who lost their lives in the crossing. Colossal waste, Mr. President.

Locally, we read of young people who can refine crude oil in their backyards; we read of people who can make guns; we read of people who can manufacture all sorts of useful implements. What does Nigeria do? They arrest them. They put them in jail till their creativity dies off under bad prison conditions. They waste them in detention. No one bothers to see how these smart and creative people can be put to use for common good. Nigeria prefers to buy guns from Pakistan and other countries that are not in any way better than us. Nigeria prefers to import refined fuel and other finished products.

The leaders of Nigeria waste the goodwill of the citizens. This is our lot. The tale of wastage of goodwill is a long one. Obasanjo came and frittered away all the goodwill he had with an illegal third-term ambition. Goodluck Jonathan, who claimed he didn’t have shoes when he was going to school, emotionalized everyone, including those who did not have shoes as adults, to win the election. He was given a goodwill capital which he squandered in no time. He surrounded himself with people who were in brain-rest mode and who didn’t care about wastage. History has made its statement.

Mr. President, I did not sell my hope during the elections that brought you into power. I still have hope and still believe in you. Stop the wastage, Mr. President.

I am probably wasting ink writing all this too….

Abimbola Lagunju is a writer and author of several books. You can reach him at and read his work here.