The person we were supposed to sell and buy a lantern, asked, "if you sell me to buy the lantern, of what use, when you have disposed the beauty for which the lantern was meant to help you see".
Last week I asked a cross section of Nigerians in my weekly admonition if they would readily die for Nigeria? With their varied answers, we noticed the recurring decimal of what the Nigerian malaise is...from the points we knew, to some new perspectives.
However a standout theme, which a couple of respondents and particularly a friend raised is my take this week...Would Nigeria die for you?
Let's rephrase in as many ways, would Nigeria die for you, for me, for us, is Nigeria dying for them? To properly situate the resident contradictions that the question could bring, reflect on the functionality of Nigeria: Who is Nigeria, what does Nigeria represent, is there a Nigeria...?
Would the Nigeria you have defined die for you, maybe in the future, but looking at a grueling 2012 draw to an end, does the current contraption capture you.
The 'you' here is the ordinary Nigerian...the you that queues an average 7 hours a week in fuel station, spends another 7 hours in traffic for reasons beyond you.
Would Nigeria die for that you? The many million 'you' in that 150 million that honestly try to 'earn a survival' by dint of hardwork but continually pegged back by Nigeria. The you that has to 'miracle' out a living from 18k with 4 kids, and several dependents on informal self social security system.
There is the you, me, millions of us, that do not possess a national identity card, or passport. We are scattered from the urban to the rural areas, no access to electricity at urban level and no rural electrification but plenty paper talk. Do these group have hope that Nigeria would die or is dying for them?
Think not what the nation would do for you...yes, in the strict term we believe this applies when the system is functional and there is allegiance to her. When Nigeria allows her own to die via avoidable infant and maternal health issues. Would Nigeria that constantly abuse its own die for you?
The Nigeria in which a few fly naval choppers bought by the peoples' wealth while the people are guests of death holes and traps on roads now looking more of pathways. The Nigeria where some treat their migraines in UK hospitals, from funds stolen from the masses and meant for the local Mbaise primary healthcare center. Would that selfish Nigeria die for me and you to have a kidney transplant or cancer treatment?
Tell me that this Nigeria that provides security for a subsidy thief, or the Nigeria that permits 4-5 military personnel to guard a retired general's empty residence while you and me are hosts to robbers, assassins. The Nigeria that with telegraph dispatch handles the Finance Minister's mother's kidnap and yet has no details about the robbery of the ordinary man, would that Nigeria die for you?
A Nigeria that watches her citizens ripped by telecom operators, killed extra-judicially and fleeced by leaders both elected and selected, would that Nigeria die for you?
I would end with this experience on the field, years back I was guest to an army general who had been around the corridors of power. I asked him, what he thought about the hardship Nigerians...He cut me short and asked "who are the Nigerians, who told you they were complaining...?
As I made to answer, he cut in again, "the real Nigerians are few, we know ourselves...". Indeed the 'real' Nigerians, the ones that call the shots, determine the bakery that benefits from the flour, bake the bread and those who eat it. They are Nigeria and would they die for you?
In 2012 alone, 11 persons were killed by government official convoys driving at 'kill us' speed, an average of one per month, this Nigeria won't die for you, the Nigeria that has ghost teachers, ghost schools, fake and ghost workers, the Nigeria were newly mint money just disappears or the strange Nigeria were a civil servant has over a billion quid in his bedroom--surely that Nigeria is not ready to die and even if, it is not going to die for us.
Gov. Patrick Yakowa's death, comments by Gov. Suswan of Benue speaks volume, celebrations by touts in Kaduna tells you the divide, the sacking of Imo workers by Abia state, and the 'hatred' between Plateau and Nassarawa state. How sacking of army chiefs become a muslim/christian or Ibo/Yoruba thing tells you to think hard if Nigeria would die for you?
When the old man without teeth, insists that strong beef is his favourite, he's passing a message, and it is only a matter of time, reality sets, the dawn is better imagined than experienced. Because it is the same Nigeria that a young man can bare afford a marriage that others share plasma tv sets and we wave it off like rumour.
Despite all, I see, and know, walk past and work with people who love Nigeria, they are willing to die for Nigeria, but does Nigeria care, they apply in their 800, 000 of thousands for barely a thousand five hundred jobs, the go through hell with painful bus-stops. There are Nigerians, but let's not forget that "if you sell me to buy the lantern, of what use, when you have disposed the beauty for which the lantern was meant to help you see". At this rate, we may be toying with a Nigeria without Nigerians, time will tell.