By Rev. Fr. JohnDuke Akowe
Without any reservations, Nigeria is a blessed and hallowed nation. As a country that has produced the essential human beings in varied walks of life along with breathtaking natural resources brilliantly or artistically endowed, it is predictable that everything and all things are in perfect silhouettes, contours and forms. But at this point of the nations evolvement, can I say Nigeria has achieved that sumptuous or opulent spots amongst the committee of great states? Still, what has the nation achieved since she revolutionized from the operations of armed forces to democratic system? Or has the nation done any wrong to ask for a paradigm shift in governance? Since the nations switch from military to egalitarianism, has the nation passed or failed? Has democracy been well doled out? Have the promises of a return to democracy in 1999 been kept? I sincerely doubt.
In 1999, the time Nigeria got back to civilian rule, she adopted a democratic system of governance and it publicly made known to all and sundry a total faithfulness to the principles and standards of democracy. This innovative, novel and new turn was extensively held in the arms of Nigerians. The nationals were happy again, especially with the death of an authoritarian and dictatorial leader in General Sani Abacha. Nigerians imagined a government controlled by the whole population of the commons. They dreamt of a government in which the superlative and highest power is vested in the people and exercised directly by the people or indirectly through a system of representation. Till now, Nigerians are not part of the decision making process in a supposed democratic system of government, with elites and the cream of the cup selected few still mainly in charge. Some will say our votes dont count; what a pity! Even after roughly two decades of civilian democracy, the nation is besieged with a lot of dark sides.
One of my highly regarded and well thought of acquaintances noted some time ago that Nigeria is a very tough place to stay. It is actually tough to be a Nigerian. I think it takes a lot to stay alive in this country. Unusual incidences have turned out to be usual in Nigeria. Just see in your mind’s eye the situation with electricity supply. When you have electricity supply for a five-day elongated episode, you start wondering why it hasnt been interrupted. This is so bad for a country with all the resources to be better than the “Grade A” World Powers. To even know that these service providers intentionally and deliberately turn off electricity supply for the egotistic reason that they need to be tipped; can you imagine! The average Nigerian has been treated wrongly. Nigerians have been so abused. The government and all service suppliers are really unfair to Nigerians. When you are treated normal; devoid of any extraordinary benefit; you feel like you have got a rare privileged treatment; not knowing its your right to have it.
A lot of Nigerians are slaves in their own country and the government is doing nothing about it. Some time ago, I had a lengthy chat with a sales representative of one of these multinational companies in Nigeria; my findings at the end of that conversion gave me a pain in the back. Now, how is it that companies and trademarks that do the correct thing in a different country get away with immorality and wickedness in Nigeria? It is never unusual to see multinational companies maltreating their Nigerian workers. I have read about how the directors of these transnational companies treat Nigerians like slaves at their companies. Even after this despicable act is carried out; our elected leaders do nothing about it. How can a chief executive officer of a company order his security agents to beat up an employee because she resumed slightly behind the usual time for work? It can only happen in Nigeria.
Since we have failed to become conscious of the fact that it is our right as citizens to have all basic amenities put in place for us; we celebrate our leaders after fixing our roads. We give them round of applause and still perceive them as God sent leaders. Some of us even canonize them for keeping to their electoral promises; which ought to have customarily been their contractual obligations as elected leaders. I wouldnt put blame on the citizenry because we have leaders who make us feel that they are doing us a great favor to be our leaders. I wouldnt fault the masses since we have leaders who think that they are doing us a favor when they give us clean water to drink. We really need to raise our arts as a nation.
How can a governor of a state have his name on wheelbarrows? Its only in Nigeria that a state governor can put his personal names on state projects. It is also in Nigeria that government representatives of various constituencies give fully clad sheep, rams, and cows to those they stand for in government all in the semblance and guise of empowerment. What can you say with reference to an elected government officer that sought to empower his citizens with wheelbarrows? What are you empowering them to do with wheelbarrows? I believe it is unadulterated lunacy and pure madness for a governor of a state to engrave his name on a state project and give useless items as empowerment scheme to poor masses in the state.
Inequalities in distributing power and resources have continued to impact the peoples right to equal protection. Every day in Nigeria, we receive news of how people are been kidnapped and abducted from their farmlands and residential houses by men of the underworld. But why wont we have insecurity issues in Nigeria when our budget on defense is nothing to write home about? The government needs to make the security of lives and properties of the populace a priority. Lets put into perspective the recent unacceptable and intolerable assassination attempt on the governor of Benue state at his farm. If a governor can be ambushed by armed militia men; numbering about 15 suspected to be Fulani bandits, who is free in this country? Is this not an invitation to anarchy and disorder in Benue state in particular and Nigeria in general? We need that glimmer of hope to trust our leaders again in the coming elections.
It has always been the case that the average Nigerian is at the receiving end of all that happens in Nigeria. We need to look at these anomalies and immoralities and admit we have really been in this messy and dark state. The light of Africa has become a nation with a lot of dark sides. Look at the educational sector, we have students who graduate from our higher institutions today that cant even read or write. Our secondary school students have now left their books for frivolities. We have teachers and tutors who are in schools for all the wrong reasons. Even the environment for learning isnt conducive enough. School children are supposed to be in school to acquire knowledge to build the nation and the world at large. On the contrary, we have a group of young boys and girls who are craving to make quick money just for show. This is the reality we are into as a nation.
No doubt, Nigeria is one of the prime exporters of oil; still Nigerians are living in hopeless poverty. The point remains that our government has ignored to extend and broaden the riches of our great nation into rural communities. So instead of financially supporting actual necessities such as proper infrastructures that would give room for job opportunities in the country, much oil producers revenue is given to the rich elite. To that effect, the money stays with the privileged few. Its either you are rich or you are poor; the middle class has no place in the scheme of things anymore. Just take a walk along the streets of our cities and towns would have you see hungry looking human beings asking for money to feed. There is hardly a day that beggars are not found on our streets. Nigerians have even gone into social media fraud; scamming people here and there. Some have even turned the temples of the Holy Spirit into temples of the devil. They use their bodies for immoral actions and inactions; a clear picture of a country with a lot of dark sides.
We can get back to our glory days if and only if we learn to do the right things and apply the principles of due process. It may seem a long journey to take, but a little drop of water makes a big ocean. So, lets first and foremost admit that we are not on the right track. We cant build up a country where a Nigerian is not appreciated, respected and cherished. We cant build a great nation where our leaders take the masses for fools. We cant build a nation if our leaders see executing their duties as a favor done to the masses. We need to put some respect on our collective names as Nigerians. Its definitely not an assignment for the government alone; the followers too need to amend their ways for a better Nigeria. It is a communal and collective thoughts and actions of every citizen. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria is our country and we must make it great again!
Rev. Fr. JohnDuke Akowe is a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria.No tags for this post.