Hope is a feeling that better things lie ahead. It is hope that gives the encouragement to continue to try even in the face of difficulty. But there is limit to hope. I cannot continue to hope where there is none. Such is an illusion. The hopelessness that pervades Nigeria does not call for hope. It calls for pessimism and, for me that is just the correct emotion.
People sometimes question my pessimism for Nigeria to grow out of the current moribund state. To me, it is like hoping for a patience that is not ready to live. The level of decay in the Nigeria system does not call for optimism. I have not travelled wide but have travelled far where I witnessed service delivery in countries, which Nigeria was once ahead of. In fact the level of rot in Nigeria is being understated because many of us have been unable to differentiate between living and just being in existence. Unfortunately, many Nigerians are just in existence but not living. Because of many years of denial of good service from our system, we now consider mediocrity as excellence.
The killings in Kogi Central of ordinary churchgoers, soldiers, and innocent passers-by and the accompanying molestation by in (security) men in past weeks rekindle my hopelessness for Nigeria. When I saw the pictures of the victim hospitalized at the Okene General Hospital, two things struck my eyes and my feeling. The victims’ mien and the bed they were laid on. For the victims, poverty was boldly written over their faces (no insult intended, please). These are ordinary people just seeking miracle out of the hopelessness the system threw them into. They looked haggard and dejected. And where they ran for salvation- the church- the product of our hopeless system, violence, visited them again.
Poverty and hopelessness are the twin factors, which make Nigerians seem religious. The impoverished class feels it should not lost out on both ends-the Here and the Hereafter- after hopelessly hoping for better days in this world that never was, they resorted to God and gods. And for the roguish, corrupt ruling class and elite, they go to places of worship hoping to ‘purchase’ the hereafter after buying off this world with the life of the poor masses that they so much dehumanized.
The second thing that stared my eyes was the bed-sheets on the mattresses that the victims were laid on.
They all have PTF logo on them. These bed-sheets may be hiding away filthy and tattered mattresses on an equally decrepit bed. The PTF rounded off its work at Okene General Hospital in the late 90’s. Today most of the hospital’s facilities are still of PTF. It goes to show that between then and now, nothing much, if any, has happened to the hospital in terms of renovation and supplies. So, the hospital was saved from being a complete mortuary by that PTF touch of the 90’s. Yet, year in year out, the government voted monies for our health sectors, which only end up in individual’s bank accounts. It was in this country not long ago that Iyabo and her colleagues in the Senate pocketed 300 million Naira of Ministry of Health’s money. EFCC only made a drama out of the issue but nobody was ever indicted over the case. Both Iyabo and her accomplices are working free why Nigerians have forgotten that such things ever happened. And this is a system someone thinks I should continue to have hope on.
Coming back to the killings, the men at the center of it are former Chairmen of Local Government Councils in the Kogi Central. Just a week before they were implicated in the killings, they were appointed the special advisers to Governor Idris Wada of Kogi state. For anyone who knows these men should be worry and be hopeless about a system that threw them up as leaders. A system that produces the likes of Ibrahim Idris, James Ibori, Alao Akala, etc., should grow citizens’ hopelessness and worries about their states.
On a National scale, if Nigerians are not worried and growing in hopelessness about an arrangement that threw Jonathan as their president, then I don’t know what will make us give a damn anymore. If still Nigerians are hopeful on a system that brought the likes of David Mark as its number three citizens then hope has been redefined. I cannot join other Nigerians in the illusive hope on a system whose Judiciary throws out it best hand but allow those Judges and Lawyers who eat with both hands with the like of James Ibori to call the shot. A nation whose legislative house of 109 plus 360 men and women does not know that it is an offence for a president to spend a Kobo let alone trillions of Naira without appropriation cannot be serious about hope.
Still talking about hope? A country who has the like of Andy Uba and Omisore in her law-making house should not call for any hope; a country who rewards militants, miscreants and thugs while denying her best university graduate job and allowing the likes of Ajaokuta steel company to rot away is not one to hope on; a country whose children study under trees and in most dehumanized condition does not give a ray of hope; and for that country to hope to produce excellent candidates from WAEC and NECO examination is a huge joke; a country whose transportation system is a death trap and the hospital is a place where people go to die and nobody give a damn defines nothing but hopelessness; a country where people feel safer and more secured in the absence of soldiers and policemen is anything but hope; a country whose leaders ask its over 150 million citizens to clap for 4000 MW of epileptic power supply is a false hope, where as somewhere in the Middle East a country under the tightest US-engineered UN sanction generates 61,000MW of electricity for her 80-million population, and a country where normal is abnormal and reversing this last sentence is the order is jokingly hoping. I am sorry I cannot have hope on a country where corruption is now measured in billions and trillions and those involved are the very people making decision over us.
Hope is something to have. But it only makes sense where it is a reality. Where one is hoping instead of being worried, it becomes an illusion. I was not brought up that way.
-A.S.M. Jimoh ([email protected]).