Another day of October 1st has arrived and just like the years before,
Nigerians all over the world would use the occasion to remember their country.
We would dance and sing. We would party irrespective of sufferings in our land.
Our leaders would rejoice in their usual rhetoric, luring us into believing
there’s reason for festivity. It is another opportunity to award phony
contract. Remember EtteHouse? Both leaders and followers will have forgotten
that Alaru ti o nje buredi, awo ori re ni o
nje ti ko mo. >>
I have this silent believe that every citizen does love his country in a
certain way even though critics are always branded unpatriotic, because they
expose all what is wrong in their land. But how can I keep quiet when the
government that is responsible for the growth of its citizen is ironically the
one that stands in the way of such growth? The highest form of criminality is
when a government deliberately uses the instrument of state to crush its
citizens – from development.
There are many ways the Nigerian government – either present or past –
annihilate its citizens’ thought. Nigerians are being killed every now and then
by policy of inconsiderate. I would cite two typical examples of such callous
implementation. Elections in Nigeria for example. We have had no free and fair
elections in our land, except the one believed to have been won by MKO Abiola
and which was annulled in 1993 June 12 by the power of that moment.
When you deprive a people from choosing their leader, then you murder them
without splitting blood. I am not talking about physical killings like
unresolved political assassinations. I am not even talking about road accidents
that have sent thousands to their early grave due to bad roads which of course
should be the duty of a serious government. I am actually talking about mental
killing that follows the victims to their grave.
The second way a government can crush its citizens’ thought is by refusing
to adopt free and qualitative education to a certain level. When a citizen is
deprived of such education, she is unfairly treated as a citizen. She is
dispossessed of knowledge that would liberate her. She is made to suffer
throughout her life. She is forced to be a slave and treated like a servant in
her own house. She is condemned to the street to become area boys to be used to
rig elections. She is permanently restricted to a class of nonentity. She would
never know but she would be happy to celebrate October 1st simply because they
have managed to conquer her thought.
The experts recent reports about high level of illiteracy in Nigeria serves
as illustration here. They have rated Nigeria as having the highest number of
illiterates in the world, according to The Guardian newspaper. They have
therefore warned that the country might neither meet its Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) of halving illiteracy by the year 2015 nor its dream of joining
the 20 world largest economies by the year 2020.
What exactly are those factors keeping my people from progress? I don’t need
to highlight more of these factors, for even a ten-year-old Nigerian understands
our profound problems and the solution. This is of course frightening. I mean
if one knows the solution but refused to implement it accordingly. When are we
going to be serious about seriousness? Isn’t the future started from yesterday?
Why is it the same song every year? E go better...e go better. Millions of
Nigerians have carried such hopeless hope to their grave without tasting the e
But as usual, Nigerians would put on their best clothes on October 1st and
celebrate 47th anniversary of self-rule. Those in the Diaspora would use the
occasion to organize cultural activities to showcase our heritage, which is not
bad in its form. But instead of doing it with reflection, we would do it with
festivity. We would do it with such fanfare that suggests things are well in
the land of our birth. On this day we will have forgotten what drove us away
from our land of birth. The thing we enjoy in our new land and which is
virtually missing at home have undernourished our perspective. After all, we
have made it to the "God Own Country".
So let Nigerians in the street of Amsterdam or Berlin
or Stockholm or Vienna or Sydney
or Budapest or London or New
York blow their trumpet and rejoice for escaping poverty in
their own land. Let them celebrate by poking fun at those who could not escape
the hardships at home. Let them celebrate the glee of freedom they enjoy in
white woman’s land but lacking in their own. Let them fly Sunny Ade or any of
those amuluduns to thrill the occasion in their adopted
What exactly are we celebrating? That the queen gave us her language? That
we are better off since the so-called independence? That the factors which led
to the civil war that killed millions have been rectified? That the civil
servants are still civil servants? That the wars on corruption have been won?
That the living standard is standard? That the Nigerian Police Force have
stopped killing or maiming or harassing the citizens indiscriminately? That the
pen robber and his twin brother, armed robber are still walking our street with
pride of locust? What is it that has forced us to the street in celebration
instead of reflection? What is it? Yet God knows I want to feel jubilation
rather than sadness . Ha, I want to celebrate a nation, a nation greater than
the so-called America. That is why the success of the Nigeria’s Under-17 World
Cup in South Korea is still written on my chest. We rule the world is
exaggeratedly displayed on my forehead for the world to see.
Oh, the school children would not be left out of such burlesque show in the
country. They would trick them as they had tricked us. They would ask them to
wash and starch and iron their uniforms for October 1st patriotic
carnival. Most of these children would march and sing the national
anthem, and pledge to Nigeria
their country without or with little food in their stomachs. They would play on
their innocence as they had played on ours. They would tell them they are the
future leaders of tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. Does it? If only we had
Surely 47 is a landmark in the history of a nation, even individual. We need
to put behind us whatever that might have brutalized our minds during the year
and celebrate. There’s cause for jubilation; when there’s life there’s hope.
That was the reason given by the immediate past president for celebrating
October 1st. And the new one, a Caretaker President as far as I am concerned,
shall echo his predecessor’s patriotic sentiment.
Following the relief from the Military hand over in 1999, a guest lecturer in a public lecture said; 'let it not be, at any time in the future for Nigerians to say 'in the good days of Abacha!' Unfortunately this statement is haunting us now and the fact that we keep making references to the days of military rule has formed part of our grief.
H.B., i understand and appreciate the passion you give to all the subjects you write about, i agree with you that we have a lot of problems but please ease-up a little. The Goverment of the people by the people, the government is not the problem, it is the attitude of most people in government that needs to change, and we are seen some bright spot, i just want to urge you to highlight some of these bright spots in your writings. As these will illuminates some great examples that we have within.
"The second way a government can crush its citizens’ thought is by refusing to adopt free and qualitative education to a certain level. When a citizen is deprived of such education, she is unfairly treated as a citizen. She is dispossessed of knowledge that would liberate her. She is made to suffer throughout her life. She is forced to be a slave and treated like a servant in her own house. She is condemned to the street to become area boys to be used to rig elections. She is permanently restricted to a class of nonentity. She would never know but she would be happy to celebrate October 1st simply because they have managed to conquer her thought.
The experts recent reports about high level of illiteracy in Nigeria serves as illustration here. They have rated Nigeria as having the highest number of illiterates in the world, according to The Guardian newspaper. They have therefore warned that the country might neither meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving illiteracy by the year 2015 nor its dream of joining the 20 world largest economies by the year 2020"
When you have a very corrupt society that produces tens of millions lacking in basic education/orientation, occupation and as a result starved of patriotism , what you have is a ticking time bomb! Mayhem in the offing! The signs are all over the place already. Mutual conflicts easily degenrate to armed confrontations and in most cases the police have been found wanting for many reasons ranging from the fact that the rank and file are already flooded with half educated touts to the reality that an army of uneducated citizens who have turned to crime can now boast of more sophisticated weapon while also armed with great anger against the state. Maybe this explains the reason why almost every riot/every communal clash/religeous or ethnic confrontations within the past decade or thereabout, needed the intoduction of military men(men trained for first degree warfare) armed to the teeth with amoured tanks to quench!
The point here is that if illiteracy contineus to grow in bounds in Nigeria, someday the ruling elite will regret not moderating tyrany with some goodwill to the downthroden. Maybe because in some parts of Nigeria , like the north, illiteracy and ignorance have played a very important role in prolonging the life of an over dormineering aristrocracy/oligarchy, successive Nigerian governments dorminated by this beleif feels that by ridiculing education accross the country, we all will be a mass of passive beings. But then as is the case in many places, a jobless mass of millions of youths at the right time with the right spur will be the engine , the willing tools needed to uproot a despotic clique. Danger here is that it can all get out of control and you have another Somalia...