Tinubu’s painful painkiller (1)

Tinubu’s painful painkiller (2)

When I was growing up in Ibadan, Nigeria, a somewhat humorous and inspirational commercial advertisement daily blared through the lone channel of the old Western Nigeria Television. If you were born in the 50s and 60s; you should remember the concluding words in the video advertisement: “There is no killing the beetle.” The television advertisement reinforced the durability of a very popular Volkswagen automobile called The Beetle that just hit the Nigerian automobile market. My older brother had one, and for years I drove The Beetle. It was a very rugged and almost invincible automobile. Where did the advertising practitioners of those days get the “no killing the beetle” idea from?

It’s from a bug called the bettle. The diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) is a tiny bug not bigger than a grain of rice. It lives under the bark of oak and other trees. The black beetle is a nondescript insect that plays dead when in danger. It can survive being run over by a car. Entomologists tell us that the tiny creature can withstand crushing forces equivalent to 39,000 times its body weight. That’s about four times more than the strongest humans exert when squeezing the beetle between the thumb and forefinger. How is this bug able to survive pillories and pummeling capable of easily snuffing life out of a lion, king of the jungle? I’ll save the answer for another day. The thrust of this week’s treatise, however, is not in the answer to that poignant question. It is in the incisive indomitability of Nigerians.


Nigerians are strong. Their ruggedness and intestinal fortitudes are incomparable. What you think should kill them gives life. What you think ought to silence them spices them up into the realm of survival. And who you think is strong enough to finish them up wakes up from inside of them an incomparable jolting jumpstart. When you think it’s over for Nigerians, you deceive yourself. Nigerians have the ability to start things over even when struck by lightning. They are not just indomitable; they are unconquerable and undefeatable. In the hands of many leaders and for many years, Nigerians have suffered. And they keep going. And they keep being Nigerians indomitable, undefeatable, and unconquerable.

Nigerians are long-suffering in spite of their prolonged afflictions. For decades, they have been battered. In the hands of the military boys, they were clobbered. In 1999 the khaki boys stepped aside for civilians to seize the reins of power.


Dishearteningly, however, democracy in Nigeria has become a weapon of mass manipulation in the hands of civilian rulers who continue to torture the people who put them in power. Our leaders across all political parties and in all arms of government have become dealers and reckless businessmen whose modus operandi is to fleece the people and subject them to untold hurt. Over the years and till today, holders of the levers of power haven’t shown themselves to be true leaders. Many are daring dealers. Nigerians are a hapless lot. Who for Pete’s sake did they offend?

Daily I wonder what human personality can solve this nation’s many troubles when dishonest and self-centered men are in charge of our parastatals. From the Nigeria Customs Service to NIS; from NNPCL to NIMASA and stretching over to the Nigerian bureaucratic civil service; dishonest and unlearned men with university degrees are in charge. Who did Nigerians offend?


One of the worst and most acerbic albatrosses on Nigeria’s economic neck was the fuel subsidy shenanigan that enriched a few Nigerians and a few neighbouring countries; but pauperised the country and its citizenry. On the day Bola Tinubu was sworn in as President, he yanked off the oil subsidy that had cost Nigeria billions of dollars over many years. The bold move was applauded all over the world. Even Tinubu’s haters loved and lauded him for the move. It was long overdue. Tinubu knew this was a slippery area. Presidents who came before him had stealthily avoided the discussion. The president also knew that baneful benefactors from the filthy pool of corruption in the crude oil business will sooner or later come after him. But he hit it head-on.

The President then announced the approval of the establishment of the Infrastructure Support Fund for the 36 states of the federation as part of measures to cushion the effects of the petrol subsidy removal on the people. The new ISF will enable the states to intervene and invest in the critical areas of the holistic economy, create jobs, and deliver economic prosperity for Nigerians. He also resolved to save a portion of the monthly distributable proceeds to minimise the impact of the subsidy removal. Out of the June 2023 distributable revenue of N1.9tn, only N907bn will be distributed among the three tiers of government, while N790bn will be saved, and the rest will be used for statutory deductions. All of these moves by the President are aimed at ensuring that the subsidy removal translates into tangible improvements in the lives and living standards of Nigerians. These were explanations of the administration’s policies.


I mentioned earlier that Nigerians’ indomitability, indefatigability, and unconquerability are very evident. Yes; my people possess these qualities and more. But Nigerians are also susceptible to pain. The indomitable, the unconquerable, the undefeatable can still feel pain. Right now, Nigerians are in pain. The pain they feel isn’t partisan. The pain is not ethnic or religious. It is simply the Nigerian pain that comes from hunger, poverty, hopelessness, and all manner of vices. Some in a few quarters claim that the pain Nigerians feel now is from the painkillers that Tinubu is administering with the intention to renew Nigerians’ hope in their leaders and country. But what else must a president do that Tinubu does not have on the table of policy discussion today? I see nothing much.

It is not uncommon to find political opponents taking advantage of the moaning and groaning from the present pain. It is not unusual to find those who hate this president (for whatever reason) screaming out their larynxes that heaven is about to fall with the removal of fuel subsidies. The approach to the Nigerian pain must not be politicised. The Nigeria Labour Congress is about to hit the road picketing. This was a group that publicly rallied behind a man Tinubu defeated in February’s election. And they want us to believe they are fighting for Nigerians? Many Nigerians say that the NLC is probably fighting for that one Nigerian this president humbled at the polls. Ask the NLC and other groups what are the alternatives to the removal of fuel subsidies. Their answers and prescriptions are not far apart from what Tinubu is proposing as painkillers.


In my later-in-life career, I was trained to administer pain medications. I have administered painkillers orally, subcutaneously, intradermally, intravenously, and topically to many people in real and severe pain. I have also received pain medications when hit with bodily discomfort. Pain is unbearable. Whether it’s from a sore thumb or broken toenails, it’s uncomfortable. Pain is an abnormal physiological function and a sign that the worst may follow. One thing none of us must try to do with the man in pain is to underestimate the pain he feels. When a man tells you he is in pain, you must take it seriously. Humans by nature don’t have patience with pain in its threshold. Nigerians are in pain. ‘Doctor” Tinubu has offered palliative painkillers to stem the throbbing. Are Nigerians willing to wait until the painkillers kick in succor? Nigerians must know that every painkiller is painful.


….To be Continued.


Fola Ojo

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