If you have had a moment to listen to the song, “Shey Na like Dis?”, by one of Nigeria’s budding pop artiste, Wande Coal, you will notice that he captured in beautiful rhythm the personal struggles of Nigerians in meeting up with the demands of today’s Nigeria.

In light of his knowledge of what used to be commonplace in Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital city, Wande Coal queries Nigerians acceptance of the status quo by asking:

“Shey na like dis we go dey?”

For the benefit of those not versed in Pidgin English, the singer simply seeks to know if Nigeria is to remain as is.

Apt and timely in its release, the song ought to be on every Nigerian’s lips in view of the need to sensitize our alarmingly disillusioned but incredibly complacent Nigerians.

Shortly after its release into the market, the song “Yahooze” by Olu Maintain became Nigerians’ singsong. Social gatherings fell below standard if the song wasn’t played to merrymakers’ delight. Even America’s own Colin Powell swung his waist to the song, at a concert in Britain, a couple of years back.

The immense popularity of “Yahooze” among Nigerians contrast sharply with the mild reception accorded Wande Coal’s epic, “Shey Na like Dis?”

Interestingly, while Olu Maintain’s song eulogizes the heavily discredited advance-fee fraud perpetuators, Wande Coal’s mirrors the decay that has set into our nation. But as Nigerians are wont to do, the bad is glorified above the good.

I am not out to review both songs; but the people’s choice of favourite songs tells something distressing about them. 

Let me tell you of a recent encounter with my sister-in-law.

About a fortnight ago, I called her cell phone and was greeted by seconds of D’Banj’s political campaign song for Goodluck Jonathan. Through it, D’Banj urges Nigerians to vote for Jonathan in the coming general elections. Although I consider D’Banj a paid contractor as far as that campaign song goes, it is instructive that Nigerian politicians- having realized the youths’ idolization of Nigerian musicians and music- are reaping the benefits of the affection music artistes enjoy in Nigeria.

Once my sister-in-law answered the phone, I descended on her demanding an explanation for why she would vote for Jonathan in April 2011. She proceeded to boisterously inform me that Jonathan had her support because:

“…electricity is getting better.”

Tufiakwa!

“Electricity getting better? Should electricity be getting better or it should be constant?”
“But Jonathan has only been president for eight months”, she defended him.
“Yes, but does he need eight years to show what he can do?”, I hollered at her.

My dear sister-in-law mellowed. And I proceeded to lecture her on the determinants of a promising leader who has had eight months on the saddle. By my personal assessment, nothing in Jonathan’s supposed noble mien or utterances exude confidence. I switched off on him when, firstly, he appointed wives, girlfriends and godchildren of corrupt, do-or-die politicians into his cabinet and secondly, he cut the picture of an intimidated fresh university graduate during his interview by CNN’s Christine Amanpour in 2010.

Even cantankerous, PhD-less Obasanjo held his own during interviews as president.

Back to my narrative:

I reminded my sister-in-law that while she is a smart university graduate, she was jobless at home, dependent on the sole income of her husband. I sought to know why Nigerians were contented with epileptic power supply, ogbanje-style pipe borne water, un-motorable roads and numerous unfulfilled promises of better days ahead.

As a young woman in her late twenties, she epitomes the characteristic makeup of Nigerians of her age who know nothing better than the situation they are in now. Electricity supply has been poor in Nigeria in the past twenty-five years! Water pipes only spread to a larger part of Lagos in the time of Buba Marwa and unemployment has always been the norm!

It therefore made sense to vote for Jonathan since she probably enjoys electricity for, maybe, two hours daily as against twenty minutes in the past.

But then should two hours daily supply of electricity be our standard? Isn’t stable electricity, constant water supply and single digit unemployment supposed to be a given in a country busting with innumerable human and natural resources?

If you have been to Oshodi in Lagos, you will have noticed a rail track stretching all the way to Mushin. Back in the day, workers, traders and students used to commute to their offices, market stalls and schools in the train from Mushin and environs to Yaba or Oyingbo where they would join buses to the Island or other parts of the mainland.

Once, at Oshodi, I witnessed the train snaking down from probably Yaba to Mushin. It was needless trying to determine how many commuters where in the train since hundreds of people either sat on its roof or clung to its doors dangerously. That was my first time of observing a train in motion in Nigeria and I concluded that the rickety “hundred sitting and ninety-nine standing” molues were safer for me.

Isn’t it better to die with one’s bones intact than to be buried without limbs?

Moreover, traders pay to Oshodi-Isolo Local government touts in order to advertise their wares on the rail tracks at Oshodi and only usually have seconds notice to flee as the train approaches!
Is life really worth anything in Nigeria? 

After my sermon over the phone, my sister-in-law uttered no words other discuss the subject of my call. I ended that conversation convinced that should Jonathan win April general elections, much of his votes would have come from ignorant youths who have accepted the present situation as the best Nigeria can offer them. Another part of his votes would, of course, come from electoral malpractice.

A leopard can’t shed its stripes; PDP can’t fairly win any elections without intimidation and rigging.

The foregoing underscores the importance of focusing on youth sensitization in the quest to reclaim Nigeria. Why is it that the youths who are at the receiving end of the leaders’ maladministration can not decipher between a credible candidate and a sheep in wolf clothing?

Why are Nigerian youths complaisant while their counterparts in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan and Jordan are protesting against bad governance in droves?

While I do not pretend to know who is sincere and who is not among the present bunch of presidential aspirants, I am convinced that Jonathan has nothing to offer Nigerians. I am certain too that Nuhu Ribadu, having pitched tent with Lagos’ area boys godfather and undemocratic politician- Ahmed Tinubu, has boxed himself into a political cul-de-sac.

How can one believe Jonathan when he promises to govern democratically with the likes of Anthony Anenih and Olusegun Obasanjo lined behind him?

If social justice has a place in Nigeria’s administrative set up, the billions of naira sunk into the Lagos – Benin expressway without any improvements since 1999 should be investigated and culprits prosecuted. But can Jonathan look Anenih in the eye and demand an account of his stewardship as the minister of works from 1999 to 2003 when Obasanjo budgeted billions of naira for that stretch of road without recording any success?

Why was the contract awarded to Inu Umoru’s little known Setraco Construction Company that can not even be entrusted with constructing a bridge over the Owan River?

Whereas Julius Berger Construction Company is awarded billion naira contracts to construct small bridges needing just culverts- a job for the likes of Setraco -the contract for the construction of the major highway to the south from the west was awarded to an untested company of an unlettered businessman PDP member!

Since Nigeria does not keep national statistics on births and deaths- or on anything at all- only God knows how many people have lost their lives on that eyesore of a road!

Is this how they will continue to govern Nigeria?

This is the season of protests, judging by happenings in North Africa and the Mideast. Unemployed Nigerian youths, however, are daily trouping to cyber cafes to chat with and poke friends on Face book while gleefully announcing:

“Do you have my BB number?”
“Please, call me on my BB”

BB, I understand, stands for Blackberry. What’s the joy of a BB owner without a job? He even has to tip the local barber in order to charge his BB. It is said that when a deranged person wanders into a market, his mental disability becomes incurable.

Who should we really frown at: those ‘I -don’t- care’ youths or our corrupt leaders?

They readily hum Yahooze’s tune and its likes, but Asa’s “Fire on the Mountain” does not warn the youths of this impending doom should they refuse to fight Mr. “Jailer”.

Nigerian youths don’t actually listen to knowledge-enhancing music. Otherwise Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s songs ought to have incited them to renegotiate their lopsided relationship with Nigeria’s incompetent and corrupt leaders.

It’s true that whatever will be, will be, according to Doris Day; but then the future may not be ours to see. Today is what we can boast of. Tomorrow we might not witness.

What then would our memories be in the Nigeria we have experienced?

Shey na like dis we go dey?

[email protected]
 
February 2, 2011.         
 

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