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There Comes A Time In The Life Of A Nation... By Chiechefulam Ikebuiro

October 13, 2014

Our over-dependence on oil is irritating and the sooner we realize that has to stop the better for us. There was a time when agriculture used to be our main source of foreign exchange earning till the coming of the black gold. Agriculture used to be our principal economic sector until we discovered oil and turned it to something of secondary importance.

The USA used to be our biggest customer when it comes to oil exportation until the shale revolution in oil and gas production. Nigeria was the first victim of this revolution. What this means is that Nigeria has completely stopped selling oil to the US.

Exxon Mobil logo

I have been bugging my mind out since this news broke. However, I am surprised that nobody seems to think this is a big deal. I think it actually is because news has it that it is likely to spread faster than one thinks, and when it does other big exporters of our oil will bounce. Now how will this leave our already battered life as a nation?

Our over-dependence on oil is irritating and the sooner we realize that has to stop the better for us. There was a time when agriculture used to be our main source of foreign exchange earning till the coming of the black gold. Agriculture used to be our principal economic sector until we discovered oil and turned it to something of secondary importance.

Most, if not all of our states have mineral resources that are not tapped or under-tapped all because of our dependence of oil. Why did we allow the black gold make us so lazy? And now it is looking like it’s going to be our undoing? It is time to demand for the diversification of our economy-something so vital to any country’s economic growth.

There should be clear-cut policy guidelines on how to diversify, as I don’t want to believe our policy makers have little or no understanding on why diversification is important. It is time to demand with one voice that our government invests more in agriculture. Agriculture can be the backbone of our economic system. It not only provides food and raw materials, but also presents employment opportunities to a very large percentage of the population.

Rumor has it that some governor who was recently asked to vacate office after close to 90 days in office left in his trail N18bn i.e. N18bn vamoosed with him. That I think is legendary and Iconic! That guy deserves a national honor. Where else in the world would you see someone move N200 million in a day?

Yes, that is what it amounts to after doing the math. Imagine him doing that for four years. Wow! Truth is, that guy will be answering to a panel in other climes. People like these should have a special place reserved for them in jail. Unfortunately, that will not happen.

We have had worse cases of corruption and they all walk. This is the same clime where soldiers battle insurgents, with some of them losing their lives whilst using substandard military equipment. They import bulletproof vests that a biro can pierce, thereby making massive profits while our soldiers battle on and continue to die in droves.

Children are orphaned, wives turned to widows and Boko Haram keeps coming. I was watching CNN this Sunday morning when I saw the Kurds protesting. They were demanding that more pressure be put on the Turkish government to do more to curtail ISIS.

Here, even the few that demand the release of our kidnapped girls are called all sorts of names and intimidated. In fact those who should be at the forefront of protests here are lost…literally. 

I was told that years back students used to be at the forefront of protests. Protest almost always starts with students. They put in effort collectively to demand for what’s best for the society. Injustice to the society was haram. What we have today is a disgrace.

The National association of Nigerian students is now partisan. You see student leaders struggle for space to pose for snapshots with government officials while the country burns.

There comes a time in the life of a nation when her people demand accountability from those who govern them. There comes a time in the life time of a country when the people demand for the heads of those who steal them blind and feed on their collective wealth while they suffer. There comes a time in a nation’s life when students rise up and take their rightful place in the society-at the forefront of securing the future.

Religion is opium of the masses, so the saying goes. Nowhere has this saying been truer than in Nigeria. Nigerians are the most gullible when it comes to matters of religion. Religious leaders cannot go wrong here even when it is evident they feed fat off our naivety while we go hungry.

This is a country with five out of the ten richest pastors in the world. They fly PJs, we beg for transport money after service and we see nothing wrong. People die because of their greed like the one who tried to perform the magic of turning a 2 storey building into four, yet some of us see nothing wrong. 

Another one volunteers his private jet for money laundering and we see no wrong. Some person claims to be a religious leader and asks you to commit all sorts of atrocities which are clearly against God and you go ahead without questions. Virgins in heaven my behind!

They dine with the movers and shakers of the society leaving you who fund their very expensive lifestyles to your fate. It is time to start using our heads. It is time to start to question why your ward cannot attend the schools which you helped build one way or the other; time to task your religious leaders with the task of drawing government’s attention to your plight instead of hobnobbing with them. One feels  they are conniving to run one under.

I have chats regularly with friends, acquaintances and colleagues as regards the state of the nation and boy I tell you you can almost touch the cynicism ;especially amongst my generation. One cannot blame them though because Nigeria has never been kind to my generation. There is no hope whatsoever. Say what you will, it is hard to convince them that a better Nigeria beckons. 

Truth is they can and will change the destiny of this country, even if it is for their children. The zeal is there beneath the cynicism. It is time the youth picked up interest in how they are governed. There comes a time in nation’s life where the younger generation starts to participate in whatever capacity in governance.

Vote, be voted for, just do your bit! Time when we were bystanders should be in the past. Government’s business should not be ‘no man’ business anymore. Vote and protect your votes. Your vote should and will count. It is happening in other climes, it can happen here.

Matter of fact, it has started to happen here. Look at Ekiti. Look at Osun. The will of the people prevailed, who says it can’t happen at the national level.

Pray, how can we have a better Nigeria if we do not want it. We need to start to want a better Nigeria. The change we seek is us.

As 2015 approaches, ask yourself if you want a better Nigeria. If you do, demand for manifestos of those who intend to govern you. Scrutinize them as regards how they intend to see their plans come to fruition. Demand for debates amongst them all. Aspire to lead too. Then you vote on who has impressed you with their visions and ideas, not rice and beans. That is called voting wisely.

See you on the other side.

The writer Chiechefulam Ikebuiro can be reached at [email protected] or via the twitter handle @thalynxis