A movement called the March-to-Abuja is planning a march from one village in Nigeria to another until they converge at Abuja. Along the way, they hope to educate the masses about the abuses and wastes in the Nigerian socio-political life. When they get to Abuja, they will table a list of demands by the people to the president. They hope to get millions of Nigerians to participate in the march. For more information visit www.marchtoabuja.com.
It’s uplifting to see a group committed to doing something to halt Nigeria’s fast decadent into the abyss. That they are still out there working on how to sensitize the Nigerian people even when it is no longer fashionable is commendable. After the short-lived protest against the oil subsidy removal, most Nigerians irritated by the mismanagement of Nigeria’s resources have returned to their cocoons. The same place the opposition political class is hiding its head until 2015.
Nigeria is the way it is because those trying to change it are not consistent, insistent and eternally committed and willing to pay any price for the change. The fear of the enormous sacrifices needed to transform Nigeria has made many Nigerians to opt for a short cut in the journey to reformation. Due to years of mistreatment, Nigerians have defaulted to a position of low expectations.
The result is that our unacceptable level of poverty, disease, crime and corruption continues to increase. Every new generation is condemned to more life of penury and shame than the generation before it. A glimpse of the Nigerian outlook shows a people with fast diminishing hope.
The failure of Nigeria is apparent to even the goats and the fowls. What it is doing to Nigerians is to have them go through the 5-stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Depending on a Nigerian’s experience and how much he or she is plugged into the core of what is really going on, he or she is at a different stage of the grieving process.
There are those in denial as to the fate that awaits the country. These are people who believe that left on the path we are on now, that Nigeria has a chance of emerging as a decent nation. This group, like every other group, quotes statistics to console and convince themselves that all is well. Because we cannot see their hearts, it is in the things they do that you learn their true emotions.
The angry ones are many and varied. They are seen in the public space often in the form of violent entities. Some are organized while some are private individuals who are very bitter about their experiences in Nigeria. When you meet them and hear their lamentations, you feel for the nation. The injustices of Nigeria often eat deep into the bone marrow of its citizens. Because these injustices are left uncorrected, they are transferred from one generation into another.
I have often described Nigeria as a house with cracks. Some see the cracks as something minor that can be patched up. Some see them as major structural defects that require the knocking down of the walls and the rebuilding of the whole structure with different designs. There is no question about whether the cracks are there or not. The question is whether they have been there for so long that they have widened to the point that lizards, snakes, scorpions crawl in freely. Those at the bargaining stage are asking why, and are involved in that conversation on how best to approach the repair job.
There are some who are frankly depressed. They have lost hope in the whole system. Nothing is looking up for them. From the prism where they look, there is no end to the tunnel. So don’t even tell them about the possibility of a light at the end. Here you find the people who curse the day they were born in that entity called Nigeria. Here you find those who say they have burned their Nigerian passports. Some openly call themselves citizens of whatever entity that they have carved out of Nigeria.
There are those who have accepted that Nigeria is a failure. Many of them have emotionally disconnected from the Nigerian project. They may live in Nigeria. In fact, many in this group run Nigeria, but deep inside, they have accepted that Nigeria is an absolute failure. These are the most dangerous of the groups. Many of them just exist as termites whose sole purpose of being alive is to eat up what is left of the hollow place called Nigeria.
Most often, those who flaunt their undying belief in Nigeria are the same people who trust Nigeria the least. They send their children abroad to school. They buy choice property aboard just in case they need to evacuate their family. They keep part of the money they stole in foreign banks. Some of those who swore to die for Nigeria are the ones who would not wait to live on their pensions but would steal enough to ensure that their great-grand children would not have to work. Chiefs and Grand Commanders of the Federal Republic they may be, but hand them over to a competent court of law and they will be facing at least 10 years in jail, like Mr. James Ibori.
You are not defeated until you’re deceived.
Depending on what day it is, what opportunities there are and what disappointments are encountered, many Nigerians crisscross from one stage to another. Every act of waste, stupidity, abuse, violence, shakes the confidence of Nigerians in the nation project. While these misfortunes may be transitional, what is not transitional is the psychological damage it inflicts on the people of Nigeria.
Each time Nigeria dodges the bullet, its chances of doing the same again is reduced. As things continue to get worse, nobody is sure of the distribution of Nigerians on this spectrum of grief. At the wrong time, a little push could tilt the scale in a way nobody expects.
There will always be next time, we often say. What we conveniently forget is that it may be fire next time. And with the cracks on the walls, the oxygen to feed the fire will come from everywhere. And then, no fire fighters will be able to put the fire off.
Don’t just say, “God forbid!” Pledge ‘your life, your fortune and your sacred honor’ if you still believe in Nigeria.
There is no way of wishing a confrontation with Abuja away. In one form or another, Nigerians must get off their butts and march to Abuja. They must seize it, retake it and transform it. Already several groups have set their eyes on Abuja- the Boko Haram, the despicable contractors, the looting politicians etc. It appears that only those with good intentions in their hearts are not interested in marching on Abuja.
Hopefully that will change soon.