I am 40 years old today. I started this series when I turned 36. So this is the fifth edition of my random reflections on Nigeria.
The occurrence of negative things and tragic occurrences in Nigeria are so rapid and frequent that both local and international media cannot stay abreast of the tragedies. Nigeria records one of the highest frequencies of terrorist attacks in the world today. How did we get to this point?
I remember in 2009 when a group (known as APELSIN TILL JOS) was planning to take a road trip from Sweden to Jos in Nigeria interviewed me at my home and how the trip was eventually cancelled due to political and religious riots in Jos. The upheavals in Jos in 2009 and 2010 now appears to be dress-rehearsals for the mayhem that Boko Haram has inflicted on Northern Nigeria and Abuja since the emergence of the Jonathan administration.
I don’t think that anyone is still in doubts about the gross incapability of the Jonathan administration. In terms of security Nigeria has never had it so bad. Many innocent people have been murdered and slaughtered by the blood thirsty terrorists in Northern Nigeria. Mostly the terrorists walk free and have constituted themselves to a potent factor that may end the union of Northern and Southern Nigeria.
In general the safety of life and property is at an all-time low and Nigeria has one of the lowest life expectancy in the world. In Nigeria people are not guaranteed of safety in their homes and elsewhere. The roads remain terrible and the airways got a bad hit due to the recent tragic Dana Air crash. Survival of both the fittest and the rugged is a daily interplay in the Nigerian society. Anything can happen at any time and any place.
Unless something ingenious comes up the sleeves of the occupiers and rulers of Nigeria, there is a slight probability that the regime of Goodluck Jonathan might go down in history as the last one for Nigeria. The successes of Boko Haram so far however tragic may trigger the emergence or reactivation of other regional warlords in other parts of Nigeria. At least a people or a tribe must have the right to preserve its own existence once the condition for such gets out of the hand of the irresponsible rulers in Abuja. Events in Maiduguri and other key strongholds of Boko Haram have lent credence to the prediction that Nigeria may cease to exist by 2015.
It is not clear how federalism, regional government or new nations emerging from Nigeria will survive. Corruption is on one side, loss of values and cultural disorientations are on the other side. Too many uncertainties and a totally disorganized system are lurking in the background. Educational institutions and loads of other values that keep a society sane are lost in Nigeria. Nigeria has been on a free fall for over 50 years and it seems the chickens are finally home.
The problems with Nigeria have folded into a complex labyrinth. It appears that the dead ends are numerous. The worst thing is trying to exit the lobes with rulers having bloody hands, corrupt minds and almost no sense of direction. Many years ago Nigerians substituted their leaders with rulers and ever since the demise of the regional governments, the road to perdition was certain.
My biggest concern for Nigerians is their welfare. No doubt the followership has been almost as bad as the rulership. I tried to refrain from using leaders or leadership when I write about Nigerian rulers. They rule, they never lead. The welfare of the Nigerian is non-existent and somehow a Nigerian does not know what the state owes him or her. The last time I was in Nigeria, I saw again the disconnection between the ruled and the rulers. Everyman runs his own kalakuta republic and there was no way to check both individual and executive recklessness. Nigeria more or less runs on “autopilot”.
It hurts to see the persistent widening gap between those who are rich by crooked means and those who are poor because of their positions in the society. Nigerians are paying more for electricity despite the fact they run their homes with generators and power plants. In other places that I know, that single act of “social terrorism”-that is paying the government for what the government is not providing”-will so much raise dusts, unrest and upheavals that it will bring down the government in no time.
It is amazing how the governments in Nigeria remain in the face of extreme corruption, social injustice, insensitivity to the plights of the masses, increase in the death rate due to unnatural causes, low purchasing power, extremely low wages and other vices too numerous to list. Governance in Nigeria is a big joke. It exists in words and vanishes in acts.
When I write my opinions about corruption, bad governments, useless rulers and acts like the worthless federal character system, I do so against a background of experiences I’d had since I was 8 years old-the first time I had to lead a group and it the first of many years of leadership and service. Today, as I’d always been, I am contented with my life. I work to earn a living like I’d done since 1990, a year after I left high school. My parents taught me all I needed to know about honesty and I believe in them because they trained us with good examples.
It hurts also to see how stupidity has reigned supreme in Nigeria. Many people have told me that I would be killed if I join Nigerian politics because “you must steal”. If you don’t the people around you will set you up and eliminate you. I have listened to some people who are planning to join politics in the future, from 2015 actually. According to them there is money in politics and those who are stealing until now don’t have 2 heads. This type of motivation means Nigeria will probably not make it. People steal; they are still stealing and walking free. In a disorganized system where institutions don’t work and the type of governance is counter-productive, it is hopeless to be hopeful.
Sometimes my hope in Nigeria is not just diminished, it is gone completely. In Nigeria good people are not keeping quiet anymore, they are actually drafted into government to become part of the looters. Many Nigerians of good characters have been drawn from home and abroad over the years just to become evil doers in different governments (civilian and military). The Nigerian system spreads evil and poverty at an alarming rate.
They say that a people get the type of rulers it deserves. Maybe this is true for Nigerians. For many years the country was on a free fall, the acceleration was magnified when the military destroyed the regions and brought in the useless state system. It has not worked and all indications point to the fact that it may never work. Nigeria’s jagajaga governments have over the years brought disaster and penury on the majority now over 90 million.
Hope for Nigerians can come with life and attitude, not with religiosity. It is time to remove the veil of God. Nigeria has the highest numbers of churches and mosques in the world yet Nigeria ranks amongst the worst places to live on earth. The lessons are obvious. The deceits are huge. My first message for Nigerians in 2011 was simple, stop saying it’s God. Everyday Nigerians tell me in chat rooms that God will do it. Even the politicians are saying God will do it at the same time that they are stealing and reaping from a system that is programmed to fail over 100 million people and benefit those who capture power.
No matter which way Nigeria turns, the efforts to regain her glory and positive fame will not depend on men or women but on institutions. It will not be unilateral but multi-dimensional and an aggregate of several simultaneous but positive forces. It’s like trying to revive the dead because with the advent and spread of terrorism Nigeria became a confirmed failed state and itself a ticking time bomb.
Everyday people open their facebook accounts to actually read about what is going on in Nigeria. It’s quite amazing where people go these days for the latest news. With the way things are going now and with the unhindered massacre across Northern Nigeria and below it, one day the news will come that Nigeria has made the final turn. I have written earlier that a people have the right to preserve its own existence, so if you ask me where that turn leads, my answer for now is I DON’T KNOW.
I’m 40 and I’m happy that my parents and my teachers prepared me for the life now. I’m happy for the gift of life. I’m happy to be able to contribute meaningfully to other people’s life through my friendship with them and also through my activities in the Yoruba Union in Stockholm. It makes a lot of sense to still be in touch and actually making useful contributions to Festac Town through my involvement in the Alumni Group.
I’m blessed with a wonderful family here in Sweden. It feels like home. In 1995 I read a wall poster at my aunt’s place in Omitowoju-Ibadan. The inscription was BLOOM WHEREVER YOU HAVE BEEN PLANTED.
There is going to be a celebration on Saturday the 14th and I’m expecting about 40 guests to celebrate with me. I have been planted. With my family and friends, I bloom.
These are my random thoughts.