It is a funny odd country...I love Nigeria. Things change and remain the same all at the same time--Bello Salihu
Recently back, into the country from one of those quick study trips, I had reason to be at the new Park & Shop Departmental Ceddi Plaza to pick a few things. In front of me, wheeling a shopping trolley was a Senator from…. (My apologies, but I won’t tell) I knew him because I had seen his campaign posters.
In front of us was the women sanitary ware tray, he picked up different types of pads as I stood there watching, Spar Ultra Plus, Everyday Hyperdry, Always, Comfort and several tampons for same purpose, the reporter in me was nosy, he had picked up over fifty and I could not help asking him.
“Sir, these are sanitary wares, for women, different types, as I made to frame my question”. He interjected. “I did not know, I actually thought...” he muted in my language and we both laughed, he thought it was...some kind of foreign (This I also cannot say, because it was too embarrassing).
That was a Senator, armed with several millions of initial chop money; he could not even read the pack of what he thought was... And many of us are praying for his likes, hoping against hope, praying for a magic at best effort and miracle without work.
As a result of demanding matters of state, the enormous energy that the president spent in putting together a swell cabinet that will facilitate in delivering fresh breath. I spare him in this week's admonishment.
Over the last week, I equally took time to reflect on some of the issues that trouble Nigeria, the question of the Nigerian myth, the question of how we got here, where we were and where we should have been despite all the prayers. In the few next lines I make some sad conclusions and again challenge us as Nigerians (At least while we remain one).
We are an odd people, very strange nation, a nation where leaders destroy infrastructures or at least refuse to provide them, steal and loot the nation dry and grossly display such wealth and we reward them with state awards, university honors and traditional titles.
We are so concerned about the president, when a host of us will never meet or have never met our local councilor and demand accountability of any form. Many do not even know the name of the local government chairman except he is a brother or relation that has denied us one borehole contract or gave us one to come "join and chop".
We lambast the president (Because his inaction makes that task painfully easy), while our local streets are paved with death-traps. We celebrate everything from going to Mecca and coming back as strangers to transversing to Jerusalem or Rome, pray the heavens down during Jumat services and Sunday worship. Yet after 50 years the closest we have come to show is 1, 2, and 3 performing governors in 36.
Thirty-six governors whose closest solution to paying legitimately earned N18K to civil servants is to remove fuel subsidy that Nigerians know little about. Yet these men dare not tell Nigerians what they do with billions of unaccounted security votes. Neither can any Nigerian governor tell his state the exact amount he earns and in 12 years of Nigerian democracy they on top have never threatened to go on strike while the strike the country to a halt with their greed and we pray.
I am rattled many a times at the kind of breed we are, a nation blessed with individual successes and drawn back by collective failure because group success as a nation eludes us. How much does an LGA boss earn, how much does all the Special advisers, not-so-special advisers, assistants and female massage officers, baggage/mobile phone carriers cost a state like Gombe, Ekiti or Abia that gets peanuts from the subvention.
We agree that for example that Akwa Ibom gets more than Plateau, Nassarawa and Bauchi put together, but the governors of the same state would buy same luxury SUVs, and strangely the one from Bauchi would have more aides, more cars, go on more foreign trips for investments that never come and we allude to sanity when we are at best delusional.
Even these days I smile when we heap encomiums on the likes of Fashola, Rotimi, and recently the new kid on the bloc Rochas, in comparative terms I agree they are saints but in terms of deliverables, are they not products of a peoples' chronic low expectation. A man prays for a wife, he gets it, proceeds on a conjugal bliss on his bed and then prays that his manhood rises, what will we not pray for...?
We defend, endorse, pray and hold thanksgiving services for certified thieves because of ethnic cleavages and wail persecution because na my brother and play rhetoric of comprehensive investigation and innocent until proven otherwise because the former stock exchange boss is alleged to have fake degree and professorial title because na your sister.
We all seek personal relevance, it’s a case of when my time comes I will use the naira note for wallpapers in my rest room, and we make rocket science of good governance, and given excuses why fresh breath has become largely polluted.
We defend the indefensible, a man of god (not the small cap g) that serves the god of men makes a collection of private jet and runs universities that his members cannot afford and we say we are praying for our leaders while poverty runs riot and we engage in theological correctness.
Today we are victims of social correctness, security agencies blame police, its suicide bombing, no its homicide detonation, all under the cosmetics of Boko Haram, while commentators try to spin a knowledgeable definition, the truth is that the Islamic and traditional institutions did not arise in the face of total neglect in the Northern clime and we are paying and praying or is it praying and paying.
A nation geographical endowed, well situated yet continually cloned with masquerades as leaders and people. We have good Nigerians, but too little, too negligible in comparison to the bad ones, we talk and write about them, but as I conclude, I ask who the ‘them’ are?
My simple summation is that we, you and I that spend hours praying, doing nothing, praying for leaders that are ordinarily from amongst us but become tin gods and are ready to pounce on us, telling us that no court can try them, living in stupendous splendour with no care and fleecing us are the problem
Next time you are asked to pray for Nigeria...say no, pray for yourself...the problem is you, it’s me, we are the them...like the Senator's story I narrated, he was you, he was me, he is now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and soon if we do not see change the target of a reinvigorated Boko Haram.
There is no need of a key, if we do not know where the lock is, prayer without works is dead...I said so, I know so and as you take your eyes off this, you know it too.