By Jide Olubiyi
A Rejoinder to the piece I Give up on Nigeria by Abiola Olaifa
My first instinct should have been to commend your style of writing, but for fear that I might by so doing trivialize the grave issues your writing raised, I shall steer clear of praising your writing for the time being. And now to the title, a few years ago I might have declared how unnecessarily pessimistic your title was. Or I might have feigned cluelessness and asked you for what you in your opinion thought the way out was. But now I believe we all are past such attitude of anesthesia. We all know what should be done; no one needs a doctoral degree to figure that out.
The ills of our society have never at any time defied defining, which also means we have all along been aware of what should be done …for instance to make living a little less degrading and a little more human. We simply are not doing it. As you rightly pointed out each man does everything for himself and his family. He digs himself a well, he fills the ‘hell’ connecting his homestead to the remaining slum of a society to make it more motorable for his 4th-hand car, he is the vigilante of his street,… in short he is the remainder of the semblance of government in his own experience. At the head in the Rocks (Aso) the lucky opportunists run a different kind of family business.
But we all know what is right, what is deserving of our humanity however vague that sense of our basic human and national right is. But then our religions teach us to accept the government we have as having divine support. We pray for them for wisdom and health and they busy themselves digging private wells into the remainder of our resources. Religions again tell us our prayers aren’t enough, we should include a little bit of fasting. So the poor man lives his life fasting (his national service) and the politician his feasting (his national service???) with cries and mourning and deaths trailing the path of his action and inaction. It’s a way of life our fathers got used to. The way of life we inherited. The way of living we consider normal.
But until the religious preachers start preaching the right side of the holy books we as citizens of this raped nation will keep believing the right way to be patriotic is by praising the loot-fattened public officers/politicians and by granting them right of way to the future of our children. And why do I keep mentioning religion? Anyone who grew up in Nigeria will immediately understand how this foundation is the spring of our national life. How our sense of rightness has been redefined inside our religious palaces. How the harbinger of our woes receive endorsement inside our religious palaces, and we the congregation celebrate them as chosen of God to lead us into the promise land. How the ‘chosen of God’ rise up from the altar of approval, climb the Rock of Aso, loot and loot, and sleep and sleep, while the preachers children and the congregation of the children of Nigeria get robbed, and raped, and murdered first in their fatherland, then everywhere across the globe… And the chosen of God continue unhindered. After he has run down the economy he again returns to the altar of approval and again we clap and raise him a prayer of approval. For he is chosen of God.
Oh Nigerians, who has bewitched us!
The foundation is falling in several places. We have inherited a culture of indolence that breeds corruption. The students progress on the back of ‘Orijo’, the civil servants spend the working hours sleeping, or making small talks, a doctor leaves a pack of gauze inside mummy Akin’s stomach, the policeman robs under the mid-day sun at gunpoint collecting N20 from the driver who also volunteers a grin and a joke to entertain the robber, the IG sits on his stomach pathologically extending. “Up NEPA”, adults rejoiced as kids, power has been restored for 7 hours in a week and at the end of the month the toiling Nigeria scavenges every nook to pay for the electricity he never used.
At the end of 4 years, the ruler that divides us is again brought out from behind our collective amnesia and dusted… We must vote the man from my part of the country into office regardless of the fact that he doesn’t even qualify to run his own family. I wouldn’t entrust my pet into his hands to manage (had a pet) for he has no clue how to manage anything. But he’s my man and that settles it. At the end of 4 years the Churches and Mosques again sing their fast that God will send a savior (as long he’s from my tribe, he’s a saviour, rigging or not)…
Who has bewitched us!
Until we make the matters of our land our individual priority we are only joking. It is sad but true, that we have exactly the leaders we deserve. Democracy was never meant to function outside the active participation of the citizens. In our model of democracy, the citizens sleep and pray that God we catch the thieves that we in the first place invited to rob us.
I really wish more people will respond like you have done, Abiola, to these problems and say it’s
Jide Olubiyi is Guest Scientist (PHD) at Forschungszentrum, Julich