By Jon Chikadibie Okafo
I have been in Nigeria for close to two months now, and apart from the laughable patriotism imposed on me by that “accident of birth”, I wish to maintain that this country is not fit for sane humans.
There are countless streams of mind-bending and seriously bizarre tales of occurrences that will surely get you thinking-sooner than later, your thoughts will be strangled to that point where it now becomes a constant display of depressing tales.
Make no mistake about it-there are two worlds struggling for space in the larger Nigerian picture. It doesn’t take much research for one to sniff out the identities of the two groups co-existing in Nigeria; those in government and those being “governed”. The “Berlin wall” separating the two groups remains so high, the disparity in the quality of life is staggering-while those in government are living large, the rest of Nigerians are visibly non-existent. Life in Nigeria really sucks big time, it is so because we have comedians, thugs and horrible charlatans occupying lofty government positions.
The city of Abuja is a good example of the evil sense of humour that is our government. The richest folks in Abuja are government officials who occupy all the mansions in the posh areas of Asokoro, Maitama, etc while the “every-day-man”, the regular Nigerian citizen could be found in the slums of Nyanya, Mararaba, Kado and similar shit-holes. Of course, the same arrangement is scattered all over Nigeria where the gap between the rich and the absolutely wretched keeps widening, incidentally government officials are the super-rich everywhere in Nigeria. Do we really have any functional government for the people in Nigeria?
Well, “we voted for Jonathan and not the PDP”. Suddenly, all my friends and foes alike that championed that illogical argument have for some apparent reasons, had the wind taken out of their vuvuzela-the silence emanating from their camp is really unsettling. Whatever happened to that ludicrously unintelligent talk of Jonathan being a “good man”? I argued then, and I still do so now; it makes no difference to the suffering masses of this once great nation if Mr President was a nice man. What we need here is a leader who inspires confidence, a leader who has what it takes to turn things around for the better and not “he is the first PhD holder to be president”.
You really need to be in Nigeria to be able to grasp the level of rot that is prevalent here; our past leaders ought to be sincerely ashamed. The current leadership of this country should be more ashamed-Nigerians are struggling against man-made vicissitudes of life; our people are dropping dead in thousands daily while those in Abuja and other state capitals are busy lining their pockets. Though I am not surprised at the wicked and immoral deceit of the PDP-led government, I had expected that man whose vuvuzela was loudest about “going to school without sandals” to identify with the masses by churning out people-friendly policies.
What do we have here? A federal government that is genuinely averse to alleviating the living standards of the same people that voted it in, a government that is more interested in consolidating power by expanding dangerously the throat of waste by bringing in more friends, party members, financiers, to “come and chop” [apologies to OBJ].
As I write, Power Holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN] continues to threaten fire and brimstone; as a matter of fact, power has been non-existent everywhere here for days! As usual, there is a dispute over pay and sundry issues and the government of Nigeria peopled by leeches and kleptomaniacs continue to slumber.
Why not? They are all living large on our wealth while the real owners of the wealth wallow in poverty, darkness and want. Majority of those ruling Nigeria are simply too wicked, heartless, clueless, sick and uninspiring.
These words might sound so strong except when one ponders over the type of cruel joke that was this year’s National
Honours Award. Reuben Abati’s satire on this same issue in October, 2010 comes to mind, except that the gentleman have found himself as the official mouthpiece of the same group he made a career of vilifying. Alhaji Dangote was decorated with the second highest honour in our country and I ask, for what? The dumbness of this act was further exposed when Mr President had to come out to defend that decision. Mr Peter Obi of Anambra state too was decorated, and hundreds of other recipients whose only claim to such “honour” could be found in their membership cards of the PDP. To me, the whole charade was more like a Tom and Jerry show-and the Iroko himself rightly rejected it. Well done Professor Chinua Achebe.
Well, sometimes I try to dwell on the sinfully rib-cracking stories one hears here daily to sustain my whining sanity. Verily I say to you, except one resides in Nigeria, you would doubt the veracity of the strange stories you will hear here. Did anyone out there hear the one about Nigeria Customs “auctioning” the equipment imported by federal government for the power sector because they were incurring demurrage at the ports?
Did any other person hear the one about the non-existent buildings for some top government officials purportedly being constructed in Abuja? I bet my last kobo that the Senate only found this out because the buildings were for their principal officers and the Vice President. I wonder who got lucky with the contract sum-billions suddenly approved through thin air vanishing through thin air.
Which brings me to the other part of the sad tale; battling with the “Nigerian mentality”. Before going into the gist proper, I would like to make my position well known-we Nigerians need a complete overhaul of our thought-process, meaning we need a re-orientation. Even though we blame our government and “witches and wizards” [story for another day] for all our woes, we must recognize the fact that we are equally guilty of killing the dreams of the founding fathers of this large map.
From all observable indications, we don’t care a hoot about our neighbours and environment anymore; particularly in Lagos. In spite of the visible efforts of the state governor with his “Eko oni baje”, Lagos remains one vast stinking slum.
Little wonder the Lagos State Commissioner for Health was on air quite recently sharing the depressing “news” that there were about 2.5 million mentally challenged drivers on Lagos highways. As a Lagos resident, I cringe at the heaps and mounds of filth that assaults my eyes daily, the huge rats that stare at you at night [they are everywhere in Lagos], the horrible open gutters with smelly greenish watery waste, the regular sight of men and women peeing and defecating openly, the constant power outage and the hatching rumbles of power generating sets, the noisy parties and early morning preachers that seems to have a grudge against some devil and sin, the blare from the very loudspeaker from numerous mosques, the list goes on.
All across Nigeria, you could almost touch the level of apathy and animosity that pulsates amongst fellow citizens; probably the government has succeeded in turning Nigerians against each other. The level of mistrust and suspicion is scary; the beauty of living together with the spirit of “the brotherhood of man” has since left our clime. Our survival instinct is now upped to a very alarming level and this means that our society has turned into a “dog-eat-dog” jungle.
And again, I remembered that not so long ago, President Goodluck Jonathan [GCFR!] gleefully reassured Nigerians that the identities of Boko Haram financiers and all that were now known to government. In that same broadcast, I remember vividly that Mr President promised that “arrests” would be made soonest and there would be no sacred cows. I was pleased, genuinely pleased.
Well, the bombs are still going off and innocent citizens are still its victims. Boko Haram seems to be waxing stronger while our government has now changed its song, “terrorism is a global thing”, “government has approved the sum of N10b [ten billion Naira] for the purchase of security gadgets and toys”, etc. I am innocently scratching my head and waiting for Dr. Reuben Abati to tell us wetin dey now.
While waiting for Abati come up with another spin, I got the totally deflating news that the “Super” Eagles of Nigeria will not be at the forth coming Nations Cup, what? ” A whole “Super” Eagles”? What about the national female football team? Ahhh, dem too no dey go anywhere bros! I have however joined the rest of Nigeria in one aspect; we easily launch a momentary escape from our myriads of problems by relocating to the nearest watering hole for a pint or two-and we sit back to chatter stupidly about the English Premier League, and how much Mr A bought his “new jeep”.
Eventually, the partying continues in Abuja and government houses all over Nigeria, our National Assembly members tuck more Ghana-Must-Go bags under their seats, Boko Haram detonate more bombs, travelers perish on the nasty Shagamu-Benin highway and similar neglected roads across Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan prances about with his “fuel subsidy” cudgel, and we, the wretched Nigerian citizens whimper home to offer prayers and tithes to God to “please take this cup away”. Amen?