You must have encountered them. Those magic wands that open hitherto stiff doors and make ways where there seemed to be no way. They come in various forms; as short notes, behind business cards unsealed and unsigned or as full fledged (often hand written) letters, well packed and properly addressed, “to whom it may concern” with a message that points to the fact that the bearer of the note is not an “ordinary” person and must be accorded special help and express attention.
If you have not been a recipient of one such magic wand notes then you definitely must have issued one or have been the bearer and beneficiary of one or for the majority, been the victim of the wonders those anonymous notes can perform; wonders that sees you miss job offers, juicy contracts, school admissions, promotions, etcetera.
It doesn’t matter which of the categories above you fall into, we all are victims of these notes and we daily bleed from the wounds they inflict on us as a people and as a country. We see these wounds in the taps that fails to run. The bulbs that would not stay on. The Generators that sing us to sleep. The roads that are now craters. The hospitals our leaders avoid like a plague. The take home pay that can hardly take you home.
We experience this pain each time we are asked to step aside from the queue in a foreign airport just because the official has sighted your green passport. You feel it and you flitch each time you discover that Nigeria is missing from the list of countries that can benefit from something online.
You curse and you hiss and complain as strongly as your speech would allow, about the failure of our leaders, yet you do not hesitate to approach that influential uncle, that big man from your village, your politician boy friend, whoever it is you consider your God father to obtain those notes, willing and ready to curry the favours that come with them and yet expecting, even praying that Nigeria would change.
We can not do the same thing, the same way, over and over again and expect to get a different result. It is not possible. Merit is dead in Nigeria and we all partook in stabbing her. Her death however is the reason why we shall never board the plane out of the ‘failed states’ axis. If this does not bother you as a Nigerian, then nothing else would.
A friend of mine was recently invited for a job interview by a Federal Government agency in Abuja. From the moment he got the invitation, his major preoccupation was not preparing for the test but instead, how to get a letter from someone, anyone, to the head of the agency asking him to please assist the bearer. It didn’t matter that the interview was being conducted by a consulting firm on behalf of the agency. He was sure that this was a “Government thing” and like most government things, it all boiled down at the end of the day to who you knew or who was recommending you.
Needless to state here that he came to Abuja armed with two magic wand notes, from the traditional ruler of his town and the member representing him at the National Assembly. Upon arriving Abuja he went in search for the third one; from a senator.
Now imagine that most of the new staff at the agency are employed on the strength of the magic wand note, regardless of their competency and sense of responsibility. If you appreciate the gory picture that comes to mind, then you will begin to get a better picture of why bridges collapse shortly after construction. Why the transformer in your area keeps blowing up after all the houses in your street contributed for its repair. Why the patients keep dying out of carelessness in the hands of someone who had been found worthy both “in character and in learning”. Why the Super Eagles and indeed every of our National sports team can not get any thing right.
And it is a vicious cycle. No society exists in peace without equal rights & justice and justice portends that everyone gets what is due to him or her within the law. As long as there remain persons within our society (indeed a majority) who are short changed or feel they are not getting a fair share of the nations resources, we can only continue to dream of peace. For peace goes beyond television jingles and a space on our nations coat of arms. It goes far beyond those. It is a function of allowing all citizens an opportunity to attain to their full potentials in a space devoid of favouratism, nepotism, and the phenomenon of magic wand notes.
And have we not already institutionalized the death of merit and made it part of our laws? What is it about the principle of Federal Character? What good has Quota System done to us? Has Catchment Area done any thing to raise education in those so called educationally backward states? Why then do we retain these relics of military rule?
In the final count like I had stated earlier, we are all victims of this situation and its up to us to get ourselves out of it. Perhaps we should think again before writing one of those notes. Perhaps we should think again before acting on one of those notes. Even more importantly, perhaps we should think again before soliciting for one those notes. For in the few words on those business cards, we sign off our country and condemn her to perpetual penury and ourselves to a lifetime of walking the earth as second class human beings.