If in small or big groups you passionately debate Nigeria’s past, present and future and on social media, you incandescently deliberate on the her politics, as well as proffer solutions; you are a sage, a patriot, an observer of political times, an analyst of events as they unfold and an unmistakable advocate of better living standards for our people. I salute you.
Nigerians in this tier outnumber the country’s pestering and pillaging politicians. They exceed crooked civil servants in head count. In an open forum, such as this, they offer counsel. A few times in the ears of the country’s leaders, these people’s words fall on good ground. At other times, their suggested ideas are choked up among thorns of arrogance and ignorance. But they keep up the counselling because Nigeria belongs to all, not just to the lineage of purloining politicians. What they say is predicated on the truth as they see it and on love of country as they feel it. I stand to be counted with them.
Quite often, I am not sure if I should keep up hope or wave a white flag of surrender as a result of the unfurling ugly, despicable and frustrating events across Nigeria. The country is a complicated and confusion entity. Injustice and unfairness hold sway. Equity and justice are non-existent. Amidst the avalanche of wrongs, many among us still strive to do what is right. It is a struggle to do the right thing in Nigeria amid so many wrongs that reign across the length and breadth of the country. And this has become etched in the spine of the society.
In dire times, such as we have now, where are the so-called ‘fathers’ of Nigeria? It is true that some of them have paid heavy prices on the altar of sacrifice. They have fought in battles and sacrificed in wars. Some built businesses and hired thousands of people who are able to feed their families. Many of them have also tarried before God in prayer, fasting and spiritual nourishment on behalf of a country that is daily slipping daily into mess and mires. But before their eyes, many lives are wasting away and the country is withering off into the valley of death. Before their eyes, more people are hungry and dying. Many others are leaving the country and getting consumed in scorching African deserts or swallowed up in the turbulence and torrents of angry European rivers.
Before the eyes of these ‘fathers’, corruption is entrenched as a family member and stealing has gone through the ceiling. Through their actions and inactions, they have taught the young ones how to steal and beat the system. They taught their myrmidons how to destroy opposing political voices and how to grab and abuse power. Not too long ago, stealing was considered o be an abomination in this country. Nowadays, it is a pre-requisite for awards and official recognition. The foundation, which these ‘fathers’ laid in avarice and rapaciousness has led to the disasters that we face today in the forms of kidnapping, robbery, prostitution and the destruction of the family structure.
The hands of our so-called ‘fathers’ are too deep in rot and their stirring fingers are stuck in the pot of the nation’s resources. They subtly glorify deception and subliminally hail and encourage corruption. Their monstrous hands loom large over all facets of Nigeria’s existence destroying, not building. If some of these people do not voluntarily vanish from the stage, or vamoose through divine intervention, positive changes in the polity will be quite difficult to achieve.
About four months ago, $1 exchanged for N575. There were widespread complaints and lamentation. It was also speculated that the dollar was about to hit the N1000 mark. Afterward, on his sick bed in London, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo muzzled the Central Bank of Nigeria to pump more US dollars into the market. As a result, $1 began to exchange for as low as N310. Now the dollar is slowly rising again. Today it is sold for N395.
Ask some die-hard believers in the Nigerian dream what they think about the future and they will be effusive in their responses. Although 120 million people in this country are hungry and poor, Nigerians still hope that everything will be alright.
Nigeria spends about 25 per cent of its annual earnings on servicing a huge foreign and domestic debt of $11.41bn and N14.02tn, respectively, in 2016. Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said a few days back that the nation must borrow to build up everything that corruption and ignorance have torn down.
Do we have another immediate escape outlet from a house on fire? The recklessness of yesteryears orchestrated by some of the ‘fathers’ of the country has finally caught up with us. President Buhari’s unclear health challenges have mired up matters. Government is currently in hibernation, the people are in consternation and the country remains in stagnation. What is next for Nigeria? Nigerians don’t know. But, all they have is hope. I hope we can still hope.
I have been confronted many times to abandon any hope for the survival and success of this country. The mouths dripping the words will surprise you. They are those who are benefitting from the system. They insist that our hope for a greater Nigeria is a pipedream. I have been told that Nigeria is a false reality, a mirage, a ticking time-bomb waiting to detonate and a zoological kingdom where its many reigning kings are animals in human skins. But I will continue to hope in a brighter future.
Am I in a shuttle between naivety and foolishness? Are my hopes driven high because I have never held a political position or benefitted a dime from Nigerian politicians and politics? It is true that Nigeria is an island of wealth surrounded by seas of poverty. It may be unfolding into an ocean of failure and disappointment because of incorporated ignorance and incompetence in government. But hoping in a better Nigeria costs me nothing. It is a free gift from God.