A childhood friend of mine called me from Germany a few years back. In more than an hour, he narrated the story of the success of the 38yr old German he works for. This friend who left Nigeria 19yrs ago told me he has a big idea. A plan to come to Nigeria with a technology he had acquired from this German. To be honest, if his passion for this great idea of his were to be measured in crude oil sales, would be convenient enough to sustain the Nigeria economy in 10yrs. His passion was hefty. My pessimism was not a match. I asked him what the conditions of the German roads were like.
He said the roads in Germany were smoother than a newborn baby’s buttocks compared to what we have in Nigeria. I asked him how often he gets electric power. He said in 19yrs that he has lived in Germany he cannot remember ever staying without electric power. As he spoke, my candle was burning. We haven’t had electric power in four days and I do not have the financial muscle to fuel my car and run the power generator every day. I think I should spare you my dear readers the details of the many other questions my pessimism permitted me to ask my friend and the responses which proceeded.
I am over 40yrs of age. And if you are within this age group, I tell you that in 30yrs from now, if you are still alive, there is very little you can do in this world. This applies to you even if you are the fittest man alive today. Trust me. I do not need the degree of a Professor of Medicine to know this. And if you have hundreds of millions in various banks, houses and investment in all the 36 states in Nigeria, and all these for the upkeep and security of your loved ones when you die, all well and good for you. However, in Nigeria today, the following are possibilities after you die. A wealthy crooked politician or businessman in connivance with bank executives could obtain billions of naira loan from your bank and default and all that you had saved would go along with the liquidation of that bank If he or she is robbed on the road and runs to the police, too bad, whatever is left would be taken away by the IPO. And if any of your children, while driving in their latest Toyota jeep, brushed the side of a vehicle with soldiers inside, bad day. He or she will be pulled out and beaten to stupor while everyone watches helplessly. After you die, some persons who did not like your face may become a senator, a state governor or even a local government chairman. He would use all state machinery to make your children worse than beggars before they die. I can go on and on with what could happen if you believed that the wealth you left behind would guarantee the safety and happiness of your loved ones when you die as a Nigerian.
Every great nation in the world today came about by men and women whom when in public service or authority worked selflessly to enthrone incorruptible institutions. It was such institutions that protected their loved ones when they died. Instead of politicians and public office holders enriching themselves, they fought to have a good police that will not collect bribe, an army that will not beat up civilians. They made sure they placed con men under the watch of their ‘Ribadu’. They made sure that young men like my friend in Germany with terrific ideas had benevolent environment and institutions to help them actualize their dreams. No great nation has been built any other way. Without a single exception, I dare to say that there is no Nigerian politician or public office holder who has no idea of the problems confronting the Country called Nigeria. But every man is controlled by a spirit inside of them. This controlling spirit produces the force that drives our desires in life. The Nigeria political elite and public office holders are seemingly possessed with the spirit named ‘ME, MYSELF & I’.
During and after the tenure of almost every public office holder in Nigeria, everything in their lives changes except the society they live in. Everyone on the streets can point at their magnificent mansions, landed properties, assorted choice cars, hotels and gas stations. Their wives, children, and concubines publicly display affluence in the midst of poverty all around them. Everything about the lives of our public office holders changes astronomically when and after they live office except the lives of the people they were meant to serve and lead. While there are no jobs, public office holders and politicians go about in convoys of brand new cars, live in houses guided by mobile policemen carrying AK47 and dogs of various breeds that are well fed. Just as the heavens are far away from the earth so are the lives of our public office holders far from those they were meant to serve. And in these way we live, pray and hope. It is in this style of governance that the future of our children and our children’s children here in Nigeria is guaranteed. No poor nation has been built any other way.
Late one Saturday I listened to a Senator on Channels Television. He claimed that it is the people that determine the strength and type of Institutions of a country. He went further to explain how a senator can be voted out if he or she fails to work for the people. This is typical of Nigerian politicians. They want to score high on what the people should do rather than what they need to do. Yes he was right. But If I had a chance to ask our distinguished Senator some questions it would go like these; Distinguish senator, will you be bold enough to challenge a serving Gov in your party if his policies or actions ran contrary to yours?...Oga Senator, are you aware that the jumbo salary and allowances you collect monthly is outrageous in a poor country like Nigeria where lots of public primary & secondary schools are without windows and roof? and lastly, my distinguished Senator, if five names of individuals in your senatorial districts were placed before the people to pick their ideal candidate for that Senatorial seat, would you be their choice without interference from your ‘’Godfathers’’? I tell you my dear Senator that your friends and as well as your enemies know the correct answers to these questions.