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Opinion

President Tinubu’s Kids and their Endurance Sermon -By Abdulkadir Salaudeen

Nigerians are experiencing the extremest hunger of their life. It is not poverty anymore; it is hunger. It is now I realize there is a difference—a gulf one—between poverty and hunger. Though I belong to the post civil war generation, those who experienced the Nigerian civil war—especially those from the eastern part of the country—will definitely understand what hunger is and its pang. But in my over forty years of existence on Nigerian soil, I have never witnessed or heard of this kind of existential hunger in the land. It is a large scale hunger. It is overwhelmingly all-encompassing and unsparing. As if in war; yet, not in war. The hunger only spares Tinubu and his kids.

And perhaps those whom the masses elected to govern them but who choose to rule them malevolently. When people say those around the President do not tell him the real reality of the fatal hunger in the land, I wonder if the President is too old to see and hence needs to be told before he could know.

Or is the President so absent-minded and detached from reality like his predecessor who needed to be told by one of his governors in far away Kaduna State that he was about to be kidnapped? Former President Buhari should be ever grateful to El-Rufai for telling him what those around him in the Villa could not tell him. Tinubu sees and knows. That is the truth. But to what extent does he see and what is the level of his knowledge of suffering and hunger in the land? This is another issue entirely; we can argue it. Some opposition parties are calling for his resignation as if things would have been better if their candidate(s) had won. But is it their fault? We should blame President Tinubu who allows things go awry such that call for his resignation resoundingly makes sense.

For the first time in Nigerian history, or so I think, president’s kids are coming out to sermonize Nigerians on endurance. I salute them for that. They have shown—by words of mouth—that they know Nigerians are in pain due to some deeds and omissions on the part of their father. It is indeed painful to see one’s father standing as a failed ruler at the head of a population of more than 200 million but suffering, hungry, and angry people. If they think their daddy has failed, they are not alone. Many Nigerians think so. That is why Nigerians—outside the corridor of power—do not find the call for their father’s resignation strange.

It was Seyi Tinubu who started the endurance sermon in an Instagram post where he urged Nigerians to be patient with his father and endure the current hardship. This sermon provoked many angry Nigerians who, in turn, unleashed their venomous tongues on him; not minding he is Nigerian “first son.” Tongues of the Nigerian poor have not been venomous like now. Those who choose to preach endurance—including clerics—should be very tactic, wise, and meticulous in doing so. An angry mob whose anger is a result of starvation has no respect for first family (including the President) not to talk of clerics. Yes, it has reached this level.

Like seyi, one Folashade Tinube-Ojo who is said to be Tinubu’s daughter and Iyaloja General of Lagos also sent an endurance message to Nigerians. “My message to all Nigerians is to please exercise a little more patience. Everything will be all right; it is just a matter of time. We need to keep our hope alive. There is an economic downturn all over the world, and not in Nigeria alone,” she reportedly said. These would have been nice words if they had lived by example. Do Tinubu’s kids know what endurance means in the context they used the word? Don’t they think Nigeria has become their family dynasty because their father was declared president?

For Folashade, as soon as the father was sworn in as president, she did not waste time to declare herself Iyaloja of Nigeria. Seyi also thought he automatically becomes a member of the Federal Executive Council who must monitor how the country is run as if he was his father’s heir apparent. No wonder he ridiculed Nigerian tax payers to fly himself in presidential jet to Kano State to watch polo game. Can someone tell them that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy, not an empire? Are they qualified to preach endurance when they live in opulence? Do they know poverty? Do they know how hunger leads people to graves under the rulership of their father? Not that these hungry Nigerians wanted to die but because they have to die.

There is one particular leaf, I don’t want to call it vegetable, about which a friend told me some months ago that, if worst comes to worst, people in the north would resort to eating that leaf. I did not believe him until I saw it. Some goats do not willingly eat these leaves save when they are starved. That is what some people eat right now to survive. As if that is not terrible enough, as we are now in dry season, the leaves are no more available. When some women spotted these leaves in a graveyard where they could still be found, they happily rushed to uproot them. Graveyards are places you hardly find women due to fear and some cultural taboos; but that is where they can find leaves to eat to avoid fatal hunger which hastens its victims to grave. Things are this terrible!

Rather than sermonize on endurance which they do not understand, Tinubu’s kids should address their father and tell him the frank truth if they had such training. They should tell him people are dying of hunger. People are selling their kids—I am not kidding—to feed in order not to die. Responsible people under the employ of federal government are begging to feed their family; not because their salaries are not paid but because the salaries are useless.

According to World Bank parameters, one lives in extreme poverty when they survive on less than $1.90 per day. At N1, 900 per dollar, that is about N3, 600. It amounts to N108, 000 per month. This implies, according to World Bank, you are already living in extreme poverty if you earned N107, 000 per month as an individual without family. What if you have family? And this is a country where some governors could not pay monthly minimum wage of N30, 000 to their employees. If World Bank extreme poverty threshold is anything to go by, do we need any bank—national or international or world—to tell Nigerian Government that about 95% of its citizen are living in extreme poverty?

If I were Tinubu’s kid, I will address my father thus: “My dear daddy, though I love you but that does not mean I should not tell you the truth. Though it will discomfort you but I have to tell you because I love you. Daddy, Nigerians do not have regards for us anymore because of you. If you cannot continue with this job, please resign. But because I know you can do it, you do not need to resign. If you resign, I will cease to be a first son and that is painful. Daddy, when you said ‘Emi Lo kan,’ I was full of hope that you have great ideas on how to take Nigeria out of its seemingly jinxed economic doldrums, being an experienced administrator. I never expected you to complicate the country’s problem.

“Daddy, you know (and I know) that many of those you have appointed so far are people of questionable character, how do you intend to move Nigeria ahead with these charlatans hovering around you? Daddy, when you said you did not believe in one Nigeria, I know many people took it literarily and out of context. I know you are a true Nigerian who will not like to see it disintegrate. My dear daddy, here is a question for you; do you really believe in one Nigeria? I pray Nigeria does not disintegrate under your watch. There are indications to that. Daddy, as long as you do not disown me as your dear son, I will continue to tell you the truth. May God guide you.”

Abdulkadir Salaudeen
salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com

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