I visited Nigeria after 3 years of absence. My plan was to stay with my Nigerian family and friends for one month or thereabout. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay more than 2 weeks in Lagos Nigeria. I arrived at the near peak of the fuel scarcity on 15th December. It was also during this period that armed robbers went on the rampage. What I’d read online before embarking on this trip didn’t deter me anyway. Nigeria is my country of birth and I’d lived there 29 years before I opted out.
My experiences were not palatable. Once I spent 4 hours on the queue to buy petrol at a gas station. It didn’t help that I woke up at 6am. Many nights, we slept in the dark; power outage was still a regular phenomenon. We couldn’t even use the generator most of the time because there was lack of fuel anyway.The cost of living has risen sharply. Bottled water, cold drinks and other things that help in the heat of the sun are sold expensively. People now pay more for everything including food. On the contrary, the standard of living has continued on a sharp decline. The roads are dirtier; the walls of houses are unkempt. Play grounds have become breeding grounds for young cultists. A lot of young people now smoke and drink dangerously. I couldn’t believe my eyes with all that I saw. What I saw in festac town was an eyesore of unimaginable magnitude. It depicted the larger society and how hopelessness has crept into the existence of many.People live now like there is no governance in Nigeria. They have gradually lost faith in the system that should protect and care for them.
We must not forget that the present day 419ers in Nigeria have resorted to self help to avoid hunger, poverty and unnecessary hardship. It is not a preferred solution but where are the better options? No plan to solve the unemployment situation, no social security, no hope in sight and no one expresses care or any feelings to the plight of the less than average Nigerian.Imagine how horrified I became to wake up one morning and learn that perhaps more than 500 people may have died from a pipeline explosion. I was in Lagos at this time and the news actually reached me from my family in Sweden. We had not had electricity to be able to follow the news and the idea of buying newspaper didn’t cross my mind. I was not expecting any disaster! People were scooping petrol illegally, there have been past deadly incidents, they know the risk but they also thought scooping was worth dying for. This is the level that the value of the Nigerian life has depreciated to. Almost meaningless. Else, how can you explain corpses by the road side daily?
There is a big question on my mind. In Nigeria, who is taking care of what? In less than 2 weeks, I began to wonder if this is the same place that I’d been educated and lived for 29 years until 2002. Of course, life has not been a bed of roses for me. It was very hard to get through school financial wise. It was not easy either getting food on the table. Mine has always been a life of hard struggle but I’d never imagined that it will not get better for us as a country.We thought the military was the problem, but after 8 years of the Obasanjo-Atiku civilian regime, I have come to realize that it is not a question of military or civilian rule in Nigeria. It boils down to attitude. There is both greed and corruption in every aspect of our lives and quite unconventionally, there is absence of common good. Majority suffers in the process. A typical public office holder in Nigeria cares for his own selfish interest first. He or she is foremost interested in acquisition of wealth that will be enough for a life time. Typically, Nigerian politicians and public servants amass wealth for their unborn generation.
We live in a society where we worship money and riches. It doesn’t matter to us how people get rich, just that they are! Over the years, this attitude has begotten crime, murder, pen robbery, physical robbery and the irreparable consequences of the meaning of life under the modern day Nigeria. That the people are generally resilient or tolerant in the face of obvious public office abuse and that no solid voice or voices have form coercion against the juntas that have not diminished in intent and purpose since 1960 calls for a re-evaluation of our common intelligence.
I left Nigeria on December 29 leaving behind again my beloved country, friends and family. I’d wished that Nigeria provides me with the opportunity to give back into the system fully as I’d dreamt as a child. It was not to be. I lived in fear and darkness for 2 weeks; I became ill drinking some bottled water. I travelled out again because I had a choice. What will be the fate of over 100million people living desperately below the poverty line?
This article has been re-written and updated in the following posts:
1. Christmas in Hell: http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/guest-articles/christmas-in-hell.html
2. Why I prefer a white christmas, http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/adeola-aderounmu/why-i-prefer-a-white-christmas.html