By Adeola Aderounmu.
Quite understandably, Africa in general is not yet as developed as the so called Western Countries but to use this criterion or excuse is not adequate in explaining the quality or standard of life that we live in Nigeria. Sometimes when I think of how I am living now and how I’d lived before I left Nigeria, I just cannot help asking myself: who planned our lives in Nigeria?
Imagine if I’d bought a bicycle to ride to work in Nigeria. My celestial church would have organized a rigorous prayer and deliverance session for me. They would have emphasized two prayer points. The first is that God should give me another job instead of being a lifetime contract PTA teacher. The second would be that God should deliver me from the hands of my enemies especially those within my family and my work place of course.
But there is nothing wrong with driving to work in a car or taking the train or bus depending on what means of transportation that is convenient for you. Your choice may also depend on your consciousness of environmental issues. In the last two years, I have gone to work many times riding my bicycle. I do ride my bicycle with utmost delight even with my tie and suit on. There are bicycles tracks with clear signals to follow and I know how many kilometers I have ahead. I only have to tuck the ends of my pair of trousers inside my stockings. Off I go!
Really, how is life supposed to be? I know a popular Swedish expression that goes like this: “Livet gar aldrig i repris”. In English, this means “You cannot live your life over again”. Many people believe we can only live once. Others have hopes of another life that their religion brings to them. I would strongly think that the concept of living once guides the people who are living life as it should be, not only as individuals but also as a nation.
For instance, it is in perfect order if you can book your summer holiday six months in advance. You can do the same with your Christmas holiday. Your wife can stay at home for one year after the delivery of your child. The state welfare built on functional tax system ensures that she does not go hungry or over-depend on you. The family bond is further promoted by ensuring that as a father, based on the same welfare or insurance scheme, you can also take paternity leave if you don’t want to send your child to daycare so early. The interests and rights of a child are paramount.
As an employee or employer, you pay your taxes and you get a little refund annually from the tax office. Obviously, you know the consequences of tax evasion. You have never worried about power supply; instead you keep a store of electric light bulbs and fluorescent lamps. You have no stress to call the house caretaker if there are things you cannot fix yourself. You know well in advance that you may not have water for 2 hours on Wednesday of week 45 because of a major repair in your area. You have many choices when it comes to electric companies, TV companies, Internet Service Providers and Telephony.
You are not afraid to travel on the road knowing well that almost everyone on the road went to a driving school. Though accidents do occur, you have been instructed at the driving school to show understanding or adjust when others make mistakes on the road. There are rules but no one has rights on the road. You know when/how to drive. The signs are clear. The Atlas of road maps in your car is perfect. The streets and motorways are well laid out. You can drive whenever, wherever and at anytime. Your 24 hours is at your disposal. No restrictions! But you are afraid to exceed the speed limits because of Police routine checks or hidden cameras. Something by the road side could even flash at you: DU KOR FORT! (YOU DRIVE TOO FAST!)
You shop for food under hygienic conditions in supermarkets. You know and appreciate the importance of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. You don’t buy expired food items as they are well labeled with production and expiry dates. Your rights as a consumer are well catered for and over pampered. You have never worried about your salary been delayed: it comes in on the 25th of every month. It has to be in your salary bank account on the 24th or 23rd if 25th is a Saturday or Sunday respectively. This will hardly change because you have also automatically instructed your bank (through secured internet banking) to pay your bills on that same day or the next day every month. Your employer is liable to the resulting debts if any delay in the payment of your salary affects the deadlines for your bills.
In General, you have a life that is well planned or organized. You balance work, family, play and exercise. However, you are aware that certain circumstances are going to be out of your control. But again, the system has regulatory mechanisms in place. Your fears are considerably lessened. You have confidence in almost everything around you including your personal and life insurance packages.
Is this how life should be? This is one constant question that keeps bugging me each time I take my usual walk under the shades of trees near where I live. Quite often as I approach the shopping complex, walking alone or sometimes pushing my little angel in her baby wagon, tears swell in my eyes. The images of Nigerian hustling, bustling and struggles are stuck to my cerebral hemispheres. The shame of April 2007 has not helped matters. Sometimes, I let go and the tears flow.
For the past six years, I have not been able to find the answer to the question: Who planned our lives in Nigeria? Instead of finding the answers, more questions and puzzles have since emerged. Would it be possible someday (or in the nearest future) for all Nigerians to live a well planned life especially with children, nature and the environment in view? Shall we have a system that is regulated (or even self-regulatory) and coordinated? What would it take? How long to reach there?
Where is the future even? Where is our hope considering the constant selfish attitudes of our leaders and politicians? To this moment, their disappointing prime interest is the so called National Cake-how it can be looted. Too obviously, they are unbelievably corrupt and greedy. The masses and the environment are inconsequential to them. One day sha, the cake will start choking them.
May the glory of Nigeria come, soon! Adeola Aderounmuaderounmu@gmail.com