Cause of Nigeria’s woes? If not us, who else?


It is preposterous that Nigerians would be searching for the cause of our nation’s woes too far away when, in fact, we are the cause. We like pointing fingers at other people when, indeed, we are the architects of our woes.

I never, in my wildest imagination, thought that Nigeria would be where it is today – weak and grasping for breath. Each time I sit back to think about our dear country, Nigeria – the lost opportunities, the failed promises and crashed dreams – my heart bleeds. Naturally, I feel weak and disconsolate, wondering what has really gone wrong.

Nevertheless, the more I think about Nigeria and its numerous problems, the more pain I feel in my heart. Let us tell one another the truth: Nigeria is no longer what it used to be: almost everybody and everything has gone wrong. At times the way we conduct ourselves, relate to one another, and treat Nigeria is very unbe­coming, wicked and insensitive. The worst part is we spend precious time blaming one another, agencies of government, as if we are not aware that the problems of Nigeria are caused by all of us. Yes, all of us. Who else?

Some recent events have made me even sadder. Imagine the kidnap of a foremost statesman and former Finance Minister, Chief Olu Falae! Why should any right-thinking person embark on such a callous and disrespectful adventure? Do the perpe­trators of this heinous crime ever thought about the consequences of their ignoble act? What do they stand to gain by kid­napping an old man – 77 years – who had served this country meritoriously in differ­ent capacities?

I have asked these questions because there was no rationality for the kidnapping of Chief Falae. None absolutely! In short, I find the whole thing nauseating, childish and nonsensical. And, therefore, should be condemned by all.

I recall with nostalgia our growing-up days – when things were still very normal, not now that everything seems to have fallen apart; when men were men and could prove their manhood in very capable ways; when we used to be our brother’s keeper and treated, even, a stranger like a member of our family; when children used to be polite, respectful and deferred to their parents and guardians on every mat­ter; when there were no serious robbers, but pick-pockets; when money had value and one could build a house with just 100 pounds; when husbands and wives clung to each other like leeches and confided in each other with absolute conjugal fidelity; when education meant everything to par­ents and their children; when electricity and water were supplied with regularity; and when death was not common and it was always very scary and painful to learn of the death of someone; etc.

What has happened to those beauti­ful days when travelling abroad was just intended to acquire ‘Oyibo’ man’s educa­tion, and not for frolicking and jamboree as is the case these days. Where are our cash crops – groundnuts, palm oil, cashew, rubber, etc – that served as the mainstay of our economy before the discovery of oil in 1958? Oh, my God, where are the famous Groundnut Pyramids in Kano; the rubber plantations in the then Western Nigeria; tin and columbite for which Jos and its envi­rons were known; etc?

Where are the beautiful and altruis­tic ideals for which Nigerians were once known? The strong family bonds and tra­ditions: Where have they all gone? Why have we allowed ourselves to be used by Satan and his agents to perpetrate evil against our own nation and even rela­tives? Where have all the great politicians who saw politics as a means of develop­ing Nigeria gone? Yes, some of them may be dead, but can’t we reproduce them in some, if not all, of us? Rather, what we have largely today are opportunists and ac­quisitionists, who have no place in public service. All they are interested in is build­ing fiefdoms all over the place and work­ing to gain the whole world, without car­ing about the vanity and ephemeral nature of life.

Oh God! Where are all the men and women of good conscience whose pres­ence inspired hope in others? They walked the entire political spectra of this country spreading the good news of national unity without fear or shame. Unfortunately, their successors have squandered our common patrimony and left all of us disheartened and disillusioned.

Those who govern us do so with little care or love, save for a few of them that still show some consideration. The oath of office administered on them on the day of their inauguration no longer means any­thing to them. Instead of serving the peo­ple as they pledged, the people now kow­tow to them for the crumbs that fall from their tables. The majority of our people live below the poverty line and cannot af­ford three square meals a day. Those who administer our affairs see no cause to gov­ern with the fear of God. By the way, how many of them fear God. They serve other gods and pay obeisance to demigods. This is why they do not care where their souls go to after death.

God, are you still there? I have asked this question, because it seems you have abandoned us. Is it because of our trans­gressions? Do not kill us before we get old, for you live and reign forever. Cleanse our nation of the evil men and women who have vowed to destroy it and your people. When will you restore our nation, Lord? When? If you allow things to go on the way they are we will wake up one morn­ing and discover there is no more country to call ours.

Nigerians behave any way they like, do whatever pleases them and treat Nigeria like a leper. We should beware, because judgement day is fast approaching.

I cannot stop asking questions until somebody provides me answers. Let me ask yet again, where were those boards that provided uninterrupted utility ser­vices to the people in the 50s and 60s? I remember with mixed feelings the qual­ity services provided by such companies as the Electricity Company of Nigeria (ECN) and Public Works Department (PWD) – known today as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Min­istry of Works, respectively. Some of the infrastructural facilities provided by these companies still stand till date. The roads then were built to stand the test of time. The standard of life in the good old days used to be very high. Everybody was con­tent with what he or she had. There was no room for cheating (419 and other such crimes), lousiness, slothfulness, greed and avarice. Parents were in control of their children and ran their homes with love and dutifulness. Couples led a faithful life and did things together. Their children and wards emulated them with pride and rever­ence. Those were the days, children were named after their parents and bore other such names that typified their character or depicted their family tradition. They bore such names as Oyirinna (like his father), Adaku (precious daughter), Omeroha (the generous giver), Omengboji (he who gives to others whenever he has), etc. What do we have these days? People bear names that do not mean anything to them or por­tray their personality. Imagine somebody who has looted the treasury or an armed robber naming his child after himself (Oy­irinna or Oyirinne).

Kalakuta Republic is what we have in many homes today – where relationship between couples and their children is tem­pestuous and estranged. Trust has taken flight from many homes, and in its place we have mutual suspicion, unfaithfulness and lustfulness.

Most parents hardly ever communicate filially with their children. Communication between most husbands and their wives is cantankerous. Many children themselves have grown to cater to themselves as their parents lack the financial or moral ca­pability to discharge their duties to them anymore. Children from these homes have lost the moral fibre to live an upright life. They resort to all kinds of atrocious things to make ends meet. Their parents are even handicapped to stop them from doing whatever they like, since they have sud­denly become the breadwinners. You ask them why they engage in these ignomini­ous acts to keep body and soul together and they tell you, ‘man must survive’.

Are these boys and girls to blame? I do not think all the blame should be heaped on them. The society, which is expected to take care of them and has failed to do so, should partake in the blame. Why should a young girl, for instance, not engage in prostitution when she has been abandoned by her parents or negatively influenced by them or their peers? She no longer listens to her parents and does not care a hoot how anybody feels about her actions. What of our young boys? It is the same story. They have the world at their feet and resort to self-help when they find themselves in a tight situation.

How did cultism, drug abuse and other misdemanours find their way into the lives of our young ones? The answer is very simple: The society created the enabling environment for them to be so indoctrinat­ed. The ills that plague our society would not have got to this embarrassing level if the society had played its own role duti­fully. Most of our schools are dilapidated and suffer from dearth of qualified teach­ers and teaching aids. Many students are so poor they can barely afford money for their examinations, let alone pay the exor­bitant fees charged by their schools.

What results from all of these is cult­ism, prostitution, robbery, drug abuse, etc. What happens to all the billions voted annually for education? Who pockets the money and who supervises the supervi­sors.

So, how culpable is each of us in the mess into which we have submerged Nigeria? The crises besetting every nook and cranny of this country are caused by us. No other per­son. The direction Nigeria goes is predicated on the attitude we exhibit toward Nigeria and to one another. Some of us treat Nige­ria like our personal property or, better still, like a piece of furniture that can be tossed around anyhow. We lack patriotism and mo­rality and have always shown penchant to acquire wealth, even to the detriment of our own lives.

Religious and political crises that have become the order of the day in Nigeria have their root in indiscipline and injustice. In the 60s, despite the differences in tongue, we still co-existed as one, indivisible people. Though we belonged to different political af­filiations, we did not allow that to constitute an impediment to our avowed determination to make Nigeria a great nation. You could hardly tell from where any one came. Igbo and Yoruba living in the North co-habited in peace and mutual respect. The same situ­ation obtained for Hausa living in the East and West of Nigeria. Your religion and status did not quite matter. What was paramount then was that you were a Nigerian.

It was this bonding that gave rise to Ni­geria’s independence. The fighters for our freedom – the Great Zik and his colleagues – did not allow ethnic or religious cleavages to becloud their vision to take Nigeria to the next level. That was why their contributions to the liberation of Nigeria from the clutches of colonialism will not easily be forgotten. They carved their names in gold through their altruistic services to the nation and fel­low citizens.

That was the vision of our forbears. How things suddenly went out of hand is what I cannot understand. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Those that enjoy the perks are less than one per cent of our overall population. From among the remain­ing 99 per cent they pick their acolytes and stooges who collude with them to fleece our dear country. This one per cent controls our financial resources, security agencies and other juicy perks, leaving the rest of us im­poverished and at their mercy. It seems all of us have been intimidated and coerced, as nobody is asking questions any longer. Might has become right and many have been forced to resign to fate out of frustration. Those who summon courage to challenge them are bullied, castigated and hauled into detention for one flimsy reason or another. Everybody must dance to their tune; Section 36(1) of our Constitution means nothing to them. They believe that in spite of the guar­anteed freedom of speech by the constitution nobody should hold a contrary opinion. By so doing and for fear of any reprisals, the weak choose to keep quiet.

Today the once-peaceful north has been turned into a killing field. Thou­sands of our compatriots have been dis­patched to their early graves for no fault of theirs in particular. Worst of it, every­body is confused on what can be done to stop the carnage. Buhari’s emergence is even deemed as not having the capacity to provide any solution. We, however, need to give him the benefit of the doubt.

In all that has happened there is still light at the end of the tunnel. God has taken control of our affairs as a nation and will soon manifest his awesome pres­ence.

Nigeria cannot continue the way it is going, otherwise we all will be imperiled. We must stand up and redeem it from the clutches of the forces of darkness that are assailed against it.

The restoration of Nigeria is a task we all must embark upon individually and collectively, no matter your religion, sta­tus or political alignment.

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