By Bayo Oluwasanmi By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Memories of our days make up the fabric of who we are.
So, to have a better picture of how far our country has come in the last 50 years, three years ago I went home on extended vacation. I stayed three months. My long stay afforded me to travel to many parts of this beautiful country. I went back this past July to see how things have changed.
At that time of visit in 2010, the debate on how and why we should celebrate the 50 year of independence with millions of Naira was fought like a civil war. In the mean time, millions of tax payers’ money had been funneled into the senseless rebranding of Nigeria’s image.
Supporters of independence jamboree argued that it was worth celebrating in spite of the intractable problems facing the country, Nigeria still remains one geopolitical entity.
The contention of anti-independence fiesta rested on the premise that there is nothing to show for it and that Nigeria is worse off than five decades ago.
As I journeyed through the length and breadth of this massive country, I was struck with awed silence the images I saw in the cities, towns, and villages.
My visit illuminates in granular raw detail the many battles faced by ordinary Nigerians especially grinding poverty and insecurity. It was a sneak preview of a horrible fact of impending doom of a nation on the verge of a precipice.
October 1, Nigeria turned 52. Sadly, nothing has changed for the better.
The quality of life of our people in the last 52 years has been tragic beyond the telling. The stiff and wooden quality of Nigeria’s democracy is antithetical to the government of the people by the people and for the people.
The cities, towns, and villages visited look the same: disjointed, disenfranchised, disorganized, and badly fractured. Dilapidated houses and toxic shanties serve as housing for the poor.
The structures and conditions that passed for human habitat convinced me that we’re a race left behind other human races.
The stench from open sewers, infested gutters, and cancerous landfills constitute a major health hazard. Lack of basic necessities of life such as safety and security, electricity, water, roads, healthcare system, reliable public transportation, and quality education system taken for granted in civilized societies confirmed nonexistent of elemental governmental responsibilities.
We need no reasoned proof that unemployment, safety and security, and collapsed infrastructure foretell the looming macabre that awaits this once prosperous nation. The signs are all over the place.
Hawkers of all stripes and shapes clogged the road arteries. Streets are invaded by army of minors selling wares of all sorts. The harsh economic realities faced by their parents forced those innocent teens into voluntary servitude at an early age.
While civilized human societies spend billions of money annually on head start programs to prepare their young ones for the academic rigors of tomorrow, our children are being thrown away like rotten cocoa pods.
Perhaps, our senior citizens are the most neglected and rejected in our society. The ones I met look haggard and hungered, frail and fragile, confused and conquered.
They look broke, bitter, drained, empty, and destitute with no where to turn to. There is no social safety net that I know of for the elderly in this oil rich country. What a tragedy!
I was crushed by the legion of poor Nigerians with stunted expectations written all over their faces. Their condition calls for emergency rescue and deliverance from abject poverty, squalor, and degradation.
It is sad to note that the elderly and the children are being treated as disposables. A country’s greatness is measured by the way it treats its elderly and children.
Our own democratic system works in reverse. In managing the affairs of the country the ruling class has chiseled a path of corruption and greed.
In their cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, they have divided the country into two camps: one nation, north and south, separate and unequal.
They feigned darkened understanding of the peoples’ problems. And because of the blindness of their hearts, they remain stubbornly unyielding to the voices of reason and sanity.
The ruling elite represent all that is wrong with bankrupt leadership: They call evil good and good evil. They advertise darkness for light, and light for darkness. They promote bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
The wickedness of their wickedness is so suffocating that one can hardly breathe. As I write, I can smell the stench!
Their prescription for the needy is to rob them of justice and to take what is right from the poor. They’ve become aliens from the problems of our people, and strangers from the purpose of good governance.
Nigeria has become an uncaring nation tone-deaf to the cries of the poor. For 52 years, the group of oppressors in all the three branches of government deafly ignored the wounded and protesting hearts of suffering Nigerians.
In Nigeria, 97% of the oil wealth is shared among only 3% of the population. Meaning 97% of the population swims in penury. Over 70% of Nigerians are idle. Out of 160 million people, 67 million youths are unemployed.
Not long ago, someone wrote in one of the Nigerian dailies and predicted that “… a time is fast approaching whereby no one would cry over the death of a dear one and no joy would be expressed over the birth of a new baby.” It’s that bad!
Over these many years, majority of Nigerians have been too blind to see, or too timid to speak out, or too self-satisfied to fight for a better life.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Fawehinmi, Solarin, Ige, Imoudu, Goodluck (not President Jonathan, I mean Wahab Goodluck), Bala Usman, Adaka Boro, Enahoro, Fela, Akinsaya, Dele Giwa, Otegbeye, Ken Sarowiwa, and Akinsanya. And sadly, very few of Soyinkas, Falanas, Bakares, Jakandes, Agbakobas, and Oshiomholes and other die-hard icons of human and civil rights.
Like ancient curse, the same old problems have persisted for 52 years. The tyrannical majority with strange inconsistencies crisply avoided the issues that have made life hell on earth for our people.
The oppressors’ solutions to the nagging problems are laughable: For water, dig borehole. For electricity, buy generator. For roads, potholes are standard. For public transportation, hop on okada. For the police, call on vigilantes. For housing, sleep under the bridge. For jobs, get MTN/GLO/Zain kiosk and sell reloadable phone cards. And for healthcare, don’t get sick and if you’re sick die quickly!
At 52, Nigeria is a nation under siege!
But I’ve got a message for these oppressors of moral leprosy: The peoples’ fury, anger, and anguish are gathering momentum. It’s in overdrive. For sure, your sins will find you out. Once upon a time, it was the Tunis, the Egyptians, the Yemenis, and the Libyans.
Images in rear view mirror are closer than they appear!
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