Chinua Achebe once noted in one of his powerful pieces that “Nigeria is a child, gifted, enormously talented, prodigiously endowed and incredibly wayward”. In the same piece, he asserted “Being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting”. The question now is: Is Nigeria gifted? Yes! Is Nigeria enormously talented and Rich? Yes! Is Nigeria prodigiously endowed? Yes! Is being a Nigerian abysmally frustrating? Yes! Is being a Nigerian unbelievably exciting without any hamper, impediment or with doubt? Yes! One can go on and on, asking both real and critical questions with the answer of ‘Yes’ reverberating countless times. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The frenzied atmosphere of the country is never ending, characterized by a convulsed existence. We have the record of being the only nation at some point in our history with an absent president for over two months, creating a power vacuum and leaving us in limbo. The average Nigerian has become prisoners and slaves in his own country with no one to reach out to and no one to voice out the inadequacies to.
Brecht once said “in our country, a useful man needs luck, only if he finds a strong backer, can be prove himself useful, the good can’t defend themselves even the gods are defenceless. Thus, you can only help one of your luckless brothers by trampling down a dozen others.” Countless times, the mind of this writer becomes lachrymose and reprehensible anytime maximum time is taken to think about Nigeria as a nation and the great people living in it. One must be blatant, make it crystal clear, visible to the blind and strive as much as possible to make it audible to the deaf that in the process of putting pen on paper on this article, this writer’s worries about Nigeria stemmed from a chat with an amiable and placid intellectual, Dr. C. A. Akangbe, who shared little about re-branding this Nation. ‘Great Nation, Great People!!!’ was the slogan of a re-branding crusade championed by the former Minister of Information, Prof. Mrs Dora Akunyili few years back. What a great dream! What a good clamour! Like a product in the dying stage of its life cycle, Nigeria’s moral is moribund, vices have become virtues and vice versa. This is the hallmark of our individual and collective lives. Our righteousness (in its best) is but a filthy rag, to paraphrase the Holy Scripture. The government is grossly insincere in all ramifications.
Despite receiving more than N31billion in salaries, allowances and benefits that clearly position members of the Nigerian senate as the world’s best paid lawmakers, not more than 35 serving senators have not listed a single Bill in their name since assuming office in 2011. Between 2011 and June 2013, each senator drew about 400 million in salaries, allowances, self-allocated bonuses and all kinds of acrimonious and illegal financial commitments. For 35 members of the senate, the sum for two years totals N13.2billion and N41billion for all 109 members whereby graduates are outside suffering while undergraduates spends extra 2 to 3 years from the normal 4 to 5 year degree course. They continue to make use of corps members maximally like permanent staff only to have them paid 19,800 Naira while they pre-occupy themselves with bills that promotes marriages to 13 year olds.
Primary Health Care and Education have become what only few can afford. ASUU strike is now an annual National Festival held in Nigeria where all government university students stay at home wallowing in waste and despondence. The business sector is processed by mad drive gain. The passion is for high percentage profit at the expense of the vast majority of the people. No one should think as a Nigerian he is secured, or was it not in the country few days ago a very senior and respected lawyer was kidnapped. The great nation continues to suffer plagues of crisis, each leading to loss of scores of lives, loss and destruction of properties and other avoidable misdemeanour. Nigeria is one country where government dialogues with the terrorists rather than using its Federal might to crush such unpalatable disturbers of our fragile peace. One wonders if the nation’s security apparatus have taken time to watch the “shoot to kill of Osama Bin Laden” by the US seal team!
With all sincerity, Nigeria is going down a path never seen in history which apparently is a pretty dangerous path, one that the whole world is keenly watching. One absolute fact is that pessimists would want to wonder if all the noise about rebuilding Nigeria is not a charade, a mere circus show, yet one cannot their pool of pessimism. What evidence of sincerity of purpose do we see in the self-styled apostles of rebuilding the government? Nothing but the case of do-what-we-say, don’t-do-what-we-do! The same view was corroborated by Dr. C. A. Akangbe that “An optimist however, sees light at the end of the tunnel, despite the thick cloud of the darkness”. An optimist will see the need to look inward for rebuilding a moral, political, social and economic sector. Nigerians are hopeful people and believe there will soon be light at the end of the tunnel; hence, everyone must be determined to turn a new leaf while the leaders especially must prepare to lead by example. Those at the top must stop the unnecessary bloodshed and carnage that has come to characterise the entire country. The only time we can build a viable Nigeria is when everyone promotes and pursues sincerity of purpose and transparently deals with one another. Let us all jettison favouritism and imbibe merit. God bless Nigeria!_
Ogundijo Emmanuel Omotayo could be reached via [email protected]