October 1st: Take a message to Nigeria..!

Adeola Aderounmu

They called it Independence day-Oct 1 1960-which makes the country Nigeria a fool at 48. When I wrote a fool soon 47, I thought I would never have to do that again or that 365 days later I would eat my words. Today I can repeat myself loud and clear that Nigeria is a fool at 48.

Nigeria is 48 years old on October 1 2008. The government wants us to believe that it is working hard to make life better for Nigerians. How the government would do this without asking thieves and looters like Babangida, Ibori, Atiku, Anenih, Kalu, Obasanjo and the other thieves to give us back our monies is something I don’t understand. I don’t understand how you want to improve the economy and the standard of living when corruption is Nigeria’s middle name.

Nigerians in power or in position of authority are not only corrupt, they are also suffering from tribalistic inclinations and a profound form of madness characterized by self-preservation and wild accumulation of extreme wealth.

There are probably more than 150m people in Nigeria and more than 70% of these people live from hand to mouth-in absolute penury and poverty. Several Millions of Nigerians cannot spend 1 dollar in a day. They live under a government that pride itself as the giant of Africa. The statement is both an anomaly and an expression of insanity by whoever lives by that acronym. What giant? Even Ghana is doing better than Nigeria and little wonder many Nigerians are relocating to Ghana for the purpose of business, education and work.

Nigeria and Nigerians are bound to be in perpetual custody until one day when all the evil people will be wiped away. Imagine just how much all the politicians, state governors and House of Assembly members are carting away every month while the ordinary people are on the streets suffering and living hopelessly.

I will not agree yet with anyone who says things are getting better in Nigeria. A daily walk or even work on the street indicates otherwise. It is true that some people struggle and managed to escape the poverty line but this category of people are few, countable and most often opportunistic. A person getting rich in Nigeria in several cases is at an opportunity cost to the masses.

The government has failed to provide a level field that would enable equal realization of individual dreams and aspirations. The education sector has been reduced to absolute nonsense and the results from the recent WAEC indicate that education is no longer a key issue in Nigeria. The health sector does not need to be described! If the (illegal) president of a country has to go abroad to treat stomach ache, headache and other ailment, what else does one have to say about the health system? It means that there are no provision of health services in Nigeria.

The transport system does not exist. Almost every aspect of it is unregulated and in private hands. It seems that the government does not know what public transportation means. The roads are terrible and getting worse. It needs to be restated again that probably the worst road in the world is in Nigeria. It is in this same Nigeria that the government is building an ultra modern city called Abuja for the pleasure of those in governments and for the deliverance of wrong impressions to visitors to the capital of (Northern) Nigeria.

On one side, there is a war going on in the Niger Delta where the protection of life and the security of ordinary people cannot be guaranteed. The regional leaders have sown seeds of discord and the government at the center over the years has allowed foreign oil companies to continue to colonize the region as the people suffered, died or survive in poverty and impoverishment. On another side, there is another war purely for survival. It is rugged down there in Nigeria and the rat race situation is unprecedented.

Power supply is improving at some places but you cannot be sure that that change is permanent because of the corrupt system. In most of the places anyway, power availability or a steady supply of it remains a permanent mirage. The men who stole over 15 million dollars in 8 years while pretending to be working on the power sector are all free men. That is Nigeria-steal and walk free. Slap the people as many times as you can-and walk free. Loot, loot, loot, until you can loot no more! Loot, loot and loot because the treasury never seems to be empty. Loot and loot for your children and your unborn generations! Let those who are not in power suffer and struggle to eke a living! Isn’t it amazing that the richest country in the world has the poorest people living in it?

Nigeria is 48 but she is sick. Someone has to remind Nigeria that agriculture is supposed to be her number one foreign exchange earner and not oil. Some people have alleged that Nigeria gave Malaysia her first oil palm seed, today Malaysia produces more oil palm than Nigeria! Someone who is normal should tell Nigeria that she has the best human resources pool in the world and tapping 70-80% efficiency of that pool would transform Nigeria to the best economy in the world provided corruption, favouritism and tribalism are relegated.

Someone should take a message to Nigeria that education is still the key to the future. The role of medicine, technology and information technology should be emphasized to those fools in power and their useless spokesmen and women. The message should include the importance of the provisions of permanent and constant power supply. The importance of good road networks and extremely functional public transport system in the sustenance of economic growth should be pointed out. Someone should tell those thieves and rogues in power that there is difference between knowledge on paper or textbooks and actual implementation.

The rescue of Nigerians actually (in the end) lies in the hands of the ordinary man and woman on the streets. They must rise up and claim what is theirs-their country. They must stand up and let their voices be heard, their votes to be counted. They should put up strong opposition and resistance the next time their votes are annulled or when their votes are not counted. It’s easier said than done because we are always afraid to die. We are afraid of the people we thought are our fellow Nigerians-those who will not hesitate to pump the barrel in our skull to ensure that the barbarism and looting in governance continue forever and ever.

But the implication of not standing up against all odds is the reason more than 50 000 women will die in 2009 due to pregnancy related problem. It is the reason that up to 12 children may have died due to preventable diseases since you started reading this article. Not rising up for what we believe in is the reason that some of us were unemployed for several years allowing frustrations, hopelessness and anger to take over our lives. Not living in decent homes and never getting water from the taps are all outcomes of our “sit-down-and look- (siddonlook) approach”.

Nigerians are a lovely people and it is very easy to associate the vices in our lives with the failure of governance. It’s up to us if we want to live with these ills and vices for the rest of our lives or if we want to change things and prepare a better place for our children and children’s children.

Nigeria we hail thee, our motherland! A fool at 48!

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