All They Ever Wanted

By Adeola Aderounmu

There are many records and chronological analyses of what went wrong with Nigeria. Above all a once prosperous country with one of the greatest aggregation of potentials-both human and natural-was mismanaged, plundered and converted into one of the worst places to live on earth.

Nigeria

Nigeria, photo By Adeola Aderounmu

In 1993 in what appeared to be an act of treason a major electoral process was blasted by the tropical gangsters led by Ibrahim Babangida. So the hopes and stakes were high when a new civilian government emerged in Nigeria in 1999.

The events from 1999 to 2012 have proven that the problem with Nigeria was partly the military governments and partly the civilian governments. In my opinion Nigerians have suffered to various degrees under all known types of dispensations after independence in 1960.

But there is a group of majority that continues to bear the brunt of more than 50 years of crimes against humanity in Nigeria. More than 90% of Nigerians are estimated to be living in poverty.

This group is made up of people who are unsure of the next meal. It is this group that is called resilient, religious or happy depending on which investigation you read. They were the hopefuls in 1993 and 1999. All they ever wanted, and still want is the good life.

Unfortunately they will not get the things they want. Since the life expectancy in Nigeria is about 52.5 years it means that there has been a generation of Nigeria that went through life in the most hopeless way one can imagine.

They never had constant power supply, they never had good roads and they never lived in quality houses or apartments. They did not get the best meals money can buy.

Nigeria, photo By Adeola Aderounmu

Nigeria, photo By Adeola Aderounmu

In historical perspective this will translate to two wasted generations of Nigerians. It is hard to give up on the argument that the nature of the Nigerian tragedy makes it one of the greatest (but hidden) tragedies of modern era.

When the Arab spring was in vogue, with Syria still as its melting point, some of us saw it as a misplaced uprising.

I mean if the second wasted Nigerian generation was raised in North Africa they would probably have driven on good roads, slept in good homes and experienced what constant power supply meant. For the most, they may have lived longer.

The hope in Nigeria-where democracy exists on paper and its dividends in the pockets of the looters-is a misnomer. The description “resilient” fits aptly. Still, I prefer Fela’s description of Nigerians as “suffering and smiling”. The song “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” has the same relevance today as it did when it was released in 1977.

All they ever wanted, they never got. All they had left were taken away from them. A typical Nigerian worker or unemployed adult was a self-witness to the demise of public education.

Right before his eyes, he saw how primary health centers turned to primary death centers and how major government hospitals degenerated in a fashion similar to necrosis. History has a record of how lesser or fewer tragedies have triggered massive protests, revolutions and government changes in several places.

One sad revelation of the Nigerian society is that the country continues to produce rulers (never leaders) who eventually turned out to be out of touch with everyday life of the Nigerian people once the ascension is made to either top or trivial political positions. Therefore the conclusion that a people deserve the type of (ruler) it gets deserves a closer evaluation in the Nigerian context.

Those who are ruling Nigeria today were on our side when we started complaining that things are not right. Why is Nigeria getting worse under the people who saw the problem with us from outside of government? In My Radom Reflections At 40, I wrote that-irrespective of what the future holds for Nigeria-the shape of things to come will depend on institutions and not people.

Had it been that the institutions are well and functioning for example more than 99% of Nigerian politicians today will be serving prison terms or facing trials for corruption, treason and outright negligence of responsibilities.

However Nigeria has almost no working institution, therefore it doesn’t matter if the politicians got legal or stolen mandates, in the end they always do what they like. In uncountable situations they do bad things and get away with crimes and all sorts of unthinkable acts never expected of public office holders.

Even today the regime in Nigeria is a mockery of the meaning of democracy. Nigerian rulers do not hide their autocratic powers. The situation in Nigeria is almost hopeless because when good people get into government they become bad, corrupt and unbelievably silent about evil deeds.

Those who managed to get into government offices end up seeing those outside of it as the problem. They see them as envious or jealous people. There is something inexplicable about how governments work from the inside in Nigeria. Hence the cycle of idiocy for Nigeria is endless.

The situation in Northern Nigeria was avoidable. If the institutions had been there, they would have rid the society of criminally minded and corrupt people both in and out of government. In the worst case the appropriate institutions would have ensured the security of life and property in the case of criminally-induced terrorism. But when the foundations are absent and everything is wrong as a result of round pegs in square holes, things will definitely fall apart with almost irredeemable consequences.

Several concerned Nigerians have begun to argue for the reinstatement of true federalism as one of the ways forward.

For them corruption is a secondary issue as far as the problems with Nigeria are concern. True Federalism will probably be a way to induce peaceful political changes in Nigeria. It is sad when those holding firmly onto power do not see the transient nature of it.

By such negligence they stubbornly fail to initiate the right political alternatives that can bring probable succor and social justice.

Sometimes stubbornness can generate earthly consuming fires. If the fire starts on the mountain as predicted by Asa, there may be nowhere for us to run. In this sense the political option, with religious inclination, chosen by Boko Haram is too costly and deadly. Most of it is senseless.

Nevertheless, it has been spoken about for years and in many ways that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. A violent change does not imply positive outcomes. The political structure of Nigeria must change.

It is better to approach the change constitutionally than to sustain the loopholes that terrorists are utilising to expose the weakenesses of Nigeria.

The common people will always be there. All they want is the good life

John Atta Mills Passes On

By Adeola Aderounmu

Ghana’s president John Atta Mills has died in Accra.

Atta was 68 years old and has been ruling Ghana since 2009.

He succeeded John Kufuor who completed his tenure, going on two terms.

The vice president of Ghana John Mahama would become the new president in line with the constitution of Ghana.

In 2009 Nigeria’s President Mr. Yar Adua also died in office after a protracted illness and a prolonged hide-and-seek game with the nature of his illness.

May the soul of John Atta Mills rest in peace and may Ghana’s true democracy continue to be a shining example to the rest of Africa.

My Random Reflections at 40

Adeola Aderounmu

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?

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

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.