ARISE! O COMPATRIOTS!
Written by Jon Chikadibie Okafo
Apart from being a proud citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I also love my country. I grew up with the notion that I was a citizen of the greatest country in Africa. As a child, I learnt both the National Anthem and the National Pledge. Way back then, we sang the National Anthem and The Pledge with a strong sense of reverence, conviction and pride. It was a daily ritual then in both my primary/secondary days in Amawbia to "pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honestÔÇŽ." Lately, my pride and all the oath of allegiance I took as a child has given way to a strong dose of anger. I have been turned into a very angry man, a man filled with revulsion. Dear compatriots do not be quick to accuse me of defaulting in living up to the expectations of our National Pledge. I have not lost hope in my country; I am more determined than ever to be part of the fight to rid Nigeria of all sorts of evil that is currently personified by our politicians, and all those who played morally reprehensible parts in stealing our country blind during the military era.
Yes, I am an angry man. Extremely angered by the fact that majority of us have kept quiet for so long while our country burns. I am filled with so much shame because I am living in another man's country where people have fought [and are still fighting] for freedom from oppression, police/military brutality, thieving politicians/kleptomaniacs, morally corrupt governments, ineptitude, siege from armed bandits, politics of Ghana-must-go bags mentality, etc.
I look at the government we have in place in Nigeria and I weep. I owe it as a moral duty to my children and future generations to raise my voice to shout a resounding tufiakwa! My greatest outrage is directed at the National Assembly and what it represents. The National Assembly is populated by men and women who are only interested in feathering their own nests, throwing banters and sometimes chairs at each other while the Nigerian populace starves and dies of common ailments like malaria and typhoid fever. Since the coming of "our nascent democracy", can somebody somewhere please tell me how or when the National Assembly has ever done anything to uplift the living standards of the Nigerian people? The amount of money this morally spineless lawmakers pocket is simply mind-boggling! The most outrageous part of the scheme is that they allocate these monies to themselves without any regard to decorum.
When Umaru Yar'dua was about to be imposed on the Nigerian nation by the Aremu of Otta, I warned my friends who where rooting for him to be cagey. My reason being that I had long learnt that your friends have the ability of shaping your character, thus Yar'dua being an Obasanjo associate must have quite a lot in common with him. The rest they say is history. Again, who is that person somewhere who would point out the positive impact of the Yar'dua leadership in Nigeria? This man has taken us back to the Stone Age era! His best friends are former state governors who have been accused of looting the treasuries of their states mindlessly; he forces his aides to an oath of secrecy, he travels out of the country and comes back under the cover of darkness [at unholy hours I must add].
What will I tell my children when they ask me why I kept quite when there was so much evil stalking our land? That during my days that our president had the habit of hopping off to some clinic in Germany to be attended to by physicians for common cold? [At least, Mr. Ojo Maduekwe had the decency to tell us this much when he was PDP scribe]. Our politicians have perfected the art of rigging to the point that sane minds can't but shudder and vomit! We have a democracy where there ought to be a government saddled with the task of uplifting the living standards of we the people, providing jobs for the teeming graduates, providing a brilliant health care system, etc. But what do we have in Nigeria? A rag-tag police force that is more interested in collecting bribes from both the complainant and the accused, a military that is more concerned with brutalizing civilians, hospitals that are more like "hell centres", a nation constantly filled with the rumbles of made-in-china power generating sets, roads that are filled with gullies, schools that are more like brothels and motor parks. In short, the Nigerian population have been so traumatized that the only thriving business in Nigeria is the Pentecostal/Born-again madness! People now turn to God for everything. The sick are encouraged to pray to God for a cure to their ailment, the unemployed graduate is now faced with the silly option of fasting and praying while seeking some divine intervention, [waiting on the Lord], communities now set up vigilante groups to insure some insurance from angry hoodlums. Our students now go to Ghana to study! Meanwhile, our politicians made up of mainly PDP buffoons are building mansions and buying properties in Europe and America. Fellow citizens, is this really what we as a people deserve? People elsewhere have fought for freedom from all forms of government irresponsibility-we all saw what happened in Thailand not so long ago. The people collectively stood up against a dodgy government and forced it out. We can do it. We need to come together and sack these pirates looting our collective commonwealth! Why should a charlatan like the former president Olusegun Obasanjo be walking our streets a free man while insulting us? [He recently preached that Nigerians should pray to God for regular power supply!]. Why should Ibrahim Bagangida and Abdusalam Abubakar be free enjoying their loot? Abacha had the misfortune of joining his ancestors, if not I am sure he would be with these men attending Federal Executive Council meetings! This is so incredible, almost unbelievable! Sincerely, we need a revolution in Nigeria. We all have a part to play irrespective of your profession, if not our country stands the risk of fizzling out sooner than later if we all stand back with a frown of nonchalance! Why would I be in Europe enjoying the sweat of decent men and women when my country is in shambles? Is it really wise to complain when treated shabbily in foreign lands when it is public knowledge that I come from a country where corruption flies high like a National flag?, a country where thieves are given National Honours and are celebrated? Why should I be quick to complain when I have a feeling that my human rights have been trampled on in a distant land when it is a daily occurrence in my country of origin? The case of the hapless lady [Miss Okere] who was physically assaulted by some Navy chaps should still be fresh in our minds. Make no mistake about this; there are a thousand and one cases similar to that of the poor lady that goes unnoticed. When will Nigerians rise up and mob these wretched soldiers and police men who brutalize their compatriots? These goons are maintained by the tax payers.
I am an angry man. Why should I be happy when a man like Mr. James Ibori who was struggling to make ends meet as a migrant in the UK suddenly become stupendously rich after spending eight years as a state governor and nobody is asking "how come"?. Why should I be happy when I see petty pick-pockets and mobile phone snatchers being manacled and paraded by the police when Mr. Lucky Igbinedion is allowed the option of a plea bargain after being accused of practically raiding his state's treasury? Why should I have a stupid smile on my face when armed with the knowledge that Mr. "Andy" Uba whom Mr. Obasanjo promised the gift of governorship of my home state was charged with smuggling $177,000 into the US by that country's authorities and was found guilty, yet the Nigerian government claimed that "no law was broken"? Why won't I be filled with rage when Mr. Tony Anenih who failed monumentally as Works Minister is now made the Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority Board? Why should I be happy when my fellow citizens in the Niger Delta are living an extremely miserable life in the midst of so much abundance while the politicians are allocating obscene allowances to themselves? Why are these politicians so callous? Why should I be cheerful when state governors in my country are collecting huge sums as "security votes" while the lives of beautiful citizens are daily being felled by the fire-power of armed robbers? My anger is further increased with the knowledge that I belong to that "wasted generation" that Professor Wole Soyinka rightly identified!
Well, I was in Nigeria some weeks ago and I had cause to "stow away" my anger for a while. A tour around Lagos was the "anger-tonic" I needed to convince myself that with dedication, honesty and a strong sense of purpose, our Nigeria would someday be uplifted. Mr. Babatunde Fashola is practically demonstrating that a government that is purposeful would be commended by the people-not by the amount of money it spends on spin and "re-branding" but by the positive steps it is taking towards bringing good governance to the populace.
Arise! O compatriots, Nigeria call obey. It is time to break down this evil temple and make Nigeria a better place for our children!
Jon Chikadibie Okafo lives in London.