The future of Nigeria and today

December 10, 2014 |

Nigeria is in dire straits. I know that bit of truism probably applies to Nigeria almost every year since 1960. While realities at this time speak to us about insecurity and the dangers that apparently loom on the horizon of the coming elections, our age-long challenges continue to threaten our very existence. In the coming days and weeks, one of the biggest players in our history, a former Head of State and former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, could further heat up the system, an increase in our national entropy that some would consider selfish on his part. But is it?

We tend to pretend Nigeria will move forward, taking giant strides into the future, but we delude ourselves if we believe that we can move forward without shedding the baggage of our past.

There has been a lot of talk about “the Turning Point Generation” which I must say when taken as a collective offers hope for the future of Nigeria. When the seamy side of this generation is unravelled, you see a youth representation that based on their obsession with instant gratification and their willingness to lose their sense of purpose and self for the same, you’d be justified to deem them in the same reality as that of shadows in a dark room. They are a perspective of the Turning Point Generation, but if the Turning Point Generation represents the beauty and light of our future, the Shadows in Dark Room of this generation represent a part that must be cultured to be better or separated from the reality of the whole.

One of the major raw materials for the rigging of elections in Nigeria are the young people; they are young, they have energy, four out of every five of them are jobless. They present a ready force for politicians who believe in the “do-or-die” approach to getting elected. These raw materials are part of that future, what will they represent when they stop being young? What role will they play in a Nigeria that we expect to be representing the aspirations and advancements of the continent in the coming days?

What is the voice of today’s Nigeria? What hope lies in the future if the bulk of individuals, organisations and media platforms that dare to challenge the order of praise singers who believe the government, whether at state or federal level, is never wrong. We have all been at meetings where representatives of the government call for engagement and something you’d consider an opportunity for the government to see its shortcomings to make change happen becomes “I used to think this government was not doing well, but after I dug deeper, I realised you are doing wonderfully well, please keep the great work going” and statements of that kind. You ask yourself, given an opportunity to represent those villagers who except for a good stroke of fate will never get a chance to meet their representatives at the highest level, should you be singing the praises of those who are never short of praise singers or should you look to be the voice of those underprivileged fellow citizens?

What do we want? What sort of society do we want? How do we want our government to represent and serve us? At what point do our criticisms be about issues and what the government ought to do and not be about individuals in government and what personal gains we could get off them? Patriotism? That word that gets thrown around by privileged government officials who don’t know how much it costs to fill a vehicle’s tank, who have no understanding of the cost of food in the market, whose houses are powered by inverters backed up by 40 batteries and generators that are not permitted to make too much noise because their Oga’s sleep will be disturbed. What would patriotism mean to you if every other day, you hear of hundreds of billions of naira being shared in contracts yet your reality and that of poverty and penury are one and the same? How can a country ask what its citizens can do for it when from the look of things, the citizen already does everything and the government does nothing, except you account for the lives changed by virtue of their being close to the corridors of power, being on the corridors of power or those right there in the chamber of power.

How far can we go with deceiving ourselves? A government official while trying to sell the so-called successes of the government claimed that all he was saying, as he reeled out such “achievements”, were based on facts. He went on to say, “facts are stubborn.” Given a chance to respond, I did say, “facts may be stubborn, only they are not as stubborn as hunger and poverty.” What does it matter if the government claims it has raised power supply to 4,000MW if a man cannot even feed his family let alone send the children to school? What are the facts to the Internally Displaced People in the northeast of Nigeria? How much of Nigeria’s so-called transformation will be appreciated by Nigerian refugees in Niger Republic?

What can we do? We need to see Nigeria for what it is today; ask why we are where we are; ask where we want to be and pay attention to what we must do to move forward. Today, virtually everyone has a phone, which just means that there are more illiterates in Nigeria today with phones than there were literate people with phones in the past. Let us get down to the real things; we will never move forward as long as our education system continues to supply graduates who cannot even meet the challenges of our not-so-sophisticated economy let alone exporting them to meet the challenges of far more sophisticated economies.

Besides, we need to appreciate the value of our women. Statistically, they represent some 50 per cent of our population; how then can we move forward if half of us are held down by ideas, and cultures that make our women disadvantaged right from birth?

As long as the freedom of the girl-child is limited because she is a girl, our freedom as a people will be limited because we can’t suppress a part of us and expect the whole of us to be free.

If we don’t already know it, let it be known, Nigeria is the sum of its people, who they are, what they do and how they do what they do. If ours is not a desirable country to live in, it is because we have not made it so. All that is needed to make this country work have been provided by God. You cannot have sumptuous food before you, served purposely for you, and then pray to God to provide food right there and then; instead, you thank God for what has been provided, then go to work on the food.

It is okay to pray to God to help Nigeria, but it is more important to thank God for the help he already provided us on the numerous blessings in human and material resources. What we must do now is to get to work on making Nigeria better. The future is still very much in our hands.

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