Thursday, April 27, 2017
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Travelogue: Iran in times of sanctions

By Abdul Mumin Giwa

Islamic Republic of Iran, since the victory of the Islamic revolution led by Imam Khumaini (QS) has been surviving and living through various milestones to take its current position as a technologically as well as scientifically advanced country.

In my current visit to the only existing Islamic state in the world and the only Muslim nation that is free of the euro-American and Jewish control and exploitation, I have had the opportunity to meet different kinds of persons with varying ideas.

The Writer standing first on the  left

The weather was very nice at that time because it was neither cold nor hot and I also arrived towards the celebration of one of the important events in the country to which a public holiday was declared. It was the Ghadeer celebration, the day on which Imam Ali AS was declared the successor of the holy Prophet Muhammad SAWA. This is important to the Islamic Republic unlike other Muslim nations who hardly recognize nor refer to it. It is indeed a very important holiday because people attend gatherings in Islamic centers, visit friends and relations and also take some time out for family outings. All worship centers were decorated beautifully to suit the event.

The Islamic Republic came into existence at a time when one of the two major ideologies in the world, namely communism was ousted from the world power seat. The two powers were in a cold war with each one controlling a particular region. The capitalists were in charge in the west while the east is in control of the communists.

Now that communism has been ousted the light of Islam has come back to the world stage with Iran in the lead. This the west and its capitalist ideology see as a threat to their total control of the entire world stage. The battle was no more between the west ant its capitalism with America in the lead and the east and its communism with Russia in the lead. It is now a battle between the Islamic ideology with Iran in the lead and western capitalism with America in the lead.

The Islamic system, which is faith-based is older and wiser than the American capitalist system that is materialistic and secular. But at this point in time it is in the cradle being that it is making a come back to the world stage.

For this reason America and its arrogance is in an all out war to eliminate the Islamic system. This, it has been doing through propaganda and manipulation of the media as well as political manipulation and support for some regional governments in the Middle-East led by stooges loyal to them in order to put pressure on the Islamic Republic and make the people rise against the Islamic system.

Iran has survived all the attempts that include an eight year old war with its immediate neighbor Iraq. Iran has been going through stages upon stages of sanctions all of which it had devised internal measures of surviving and it is in the process of the latest sanction that I visited Iran recently.

I received an invitation to attend the 2nd Press Union of the Islamic World meeting in Tehran organized by the Ministry of the Culture and Islamic Guidance. Along side the annual meeting, there was also the annual News and Press Agencies Exhibition in Tehran. During these two events, there were many journalists and other practitioners of the media in attendance from various parts of the world.

Though I wasn’t really prepared for the event I chose to go because I only knew about it on the same day the launch of my book took place.

At Iran I met with some highly placed Nigerian media practitioners and successful publishers that have set bench mark in the field in Nigeria and have built reputations abroad. They were invited to participate in the annual press and news agencies exhibition.

Actually nothing had changed in the reception and treatment accorded us as guests because I was there for the first meting the previous year. So I could be able to tell.

Tehran is the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Iran and as other capital cities it has its unique lifestyle. It is there that you find a lot of elites and extra-ambitious persons whose ideas and life ambitions in business and other pursuits might not necessarily be in line with the government policies. Hence it is not a good place for the sampling of general opinion of the people of the country and if done it will only say the opinion of a particular class who in general might form the minority when a national opinion is sampled.

We met people that complained a lot about the effects of the American imposed sanctions on their country. But what I personally observed was that such complains were based on personal interests. They were not based on the general volition of the people of the country.

A friend of mine complained that there was gross devaluation of the currency of the country which has led to the inflation in prices goods. At the same time the level of income of people is still the same. This to them has created more problems and is causing them to look for other sources of funds. I wanted him to explain what he wanted the government to do for him that is better than what it is doing. Does he want the government to submit itself to the whims and caprices of  America and give up its dignity, freedom and independence? He couldn’t answer because he was too personal in his thought. I informed him that what he is experiencing is the price of dignity and true independence which he should hold with reverence. At least his government is the one deciding its destiny for itself without the influence of the arrogant powers.   

But to resolve such effects of the subsidy, the government has provided a lot of ease in the basic amenities. There was cheap transportation, food, healthcare delivery services, medicine, access to education and uninterrupted power supply. Every youth has access to education.

In the aspect of transportation, there was the town service in the city of Tehran where one could go anywhere in taxis, busses, air planes and the subway.

I went through the subway from Tajris station in northern Tehran to Baheshti station and what I noticed was that the station at Tajris where I boarded the underground train is better than the MurtalaMuhammadInternationalAirport. This is talking about a system of transportation provided for the people and not the nobles and what is more is that it is cheap and affordable.

I also discussed with one of my Iranian friends who is also among the organizers of our meetings and he expressed his anger on America and even describing them as bastards. He explained that it is only those that are after personal greed that will speak against the Iranian system. He explained to me that some of the policies they are speaking against are policies that are beneficial to the larger community and are detrimental to their individual interest. He mentioned that the government had withdrawn subsidy on petrol because most of those who benefit from it are people that rarely need the subsidy. He said that they are rich enough to own more than a car then why should oil be subsidized for them?

In Iran, before the withdrawal of the subsidy, a bottle of water is more expensive than the same quantity of petrol. But after the withdrawal it became more than that. Even at this rate it is far less than its price in Nigeria.

He mentioned that the subsidy amount withdrawn is used to better the life of those in the rural areas on the other side. This is because they need the money better.

In order to support the poverty stricken, the government has registered more than 15 million people that receive support package every two months. They are paid 90 thousand Riyals every two months to cater for their essential needs. And every needy is entitled to this as long as he can provide facts that he needs such support.

Another aspect is the government’s ability to control influx of people from rural to urban areas. The government has extended all necessary healthcare delivery facilities to the urban areas with doctors. Gas supply has been taken to their doorsteps, power supply, education and other basic amenities have all been provided to those rural communities. In fact medicinal drugs are extremely cheap in Iran that anybody can afford without tears.

A friend of mine in Lagos gave me $30 to buy a particular drug for him which was prescribed for his ailment by doctors. This drug is ordinarily supposed to be a very expensive drug in Nigeria but they had to look for a box to arrange the medicine for me. I feared carrying the drug in that quantity because of the NDLEA back home in Nigeria. So, I bought only ten packets for him.

The rural people had no need to leave their communities to go in search of better life in the urban areas. This has created balance in the country. To top this all, the Iranian government had even received the UNICEF award for the best in rural development in the world.

In fact I traveled from Tehran to the city of Qum which is about 200 km distance and there was street light and side-walk from the capital city to the holy city. Everything was functioning and there was law and order. None of the street lights was off throughout.

One other important thing the government did is the development of its local industries. The industries have been developed to international standards. There is nothing that is needed that is not produced locally. Most of their requirements are produced locally. They had no need to rely on imports. Therefore those who actually need foreign made things are the ones complaining. This is because of the rate of the dollar to the Iranian currency. The dollar is too expensive. Hence, one could go for the local substitute of what ever thing he needs. And if he insists on the imported things he has to use the dollar and that will make the thing expensive.

The Iranian cars industries has developed. Cars and other vehicles are locally manufactured in Iran. I mean manufactured not assembled. There is even a manufacturing plant of Peugeot in Iran which manufactures various models of the vehicle. Cars manufactured in Iran are very affordable to the Iranians. But cars are not necessarily a necessity to a lot of them because public transportation is available and affordable and in fact cheaper than owning a car.

The aspect of scientific development is yet another important one. The Islamic Republic has gone far in the field of nanotechnology. The government engages its university professors in researches.  The results of such researches are developed and the resultant products are marketed. They have extended the nanotechnology techniques to the field of medicine and others. In fact Iran is among the most advanced ten countries of the world in the field of nanotechnology.

This is not talking about its achievement in the field of nuclear science. As Nigeria is planning for 6,000 megawatts in the next few years Iran has attained over 70,000 megawatts of power supply. It is using its nuclear science in the field of medicine and power generation. It is part of these achievements that is making America and her cohorts to accuse Iran of developing WMD (weapons of mass destruction). It is their intention to use this as an alibi to impose excessive sanctions on Islamic Iran and also isolate it and use that as a means of generating internal tensions in order to destabilize the country.

Iran is also able to maintain its Islamic ideology without apology or compromise. It is such that even non-Muslim women from other countries observe the head-cover in the country. The scholars in the country are revered and respected by the people and the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic Sayyi Khamne’I is held in high esteem. The country practices and has record of the best democratic process in the world. The government has a record of participation of over 85% of registered voters in the political processes.

Life is still moving in Iran and everything is moving smoothly against the wicked intention of America and the west.

Coming back to Nigeria, one wonders when Nigeria will find the track of development and walk along it.