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By Denrele Animashaun

“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”— Wole Soyinka

As they say, those with ear should listen. I believe that boat has long sailed with   us in Nigeria. We  have instead  been  grappling  with  the day to day  hustle  and  bustling. Majority  of  Nigerians cannot  look  beyond  the  day  to  look  at  the  bigger picture; that  of  saving our land.

Our leaders  have been  enriching  their  pockets  and  playing  big  men  and  women. They  have been leaving  the  people scrabbling   for  crusts  and  fighting  amongst  themselves  to  notice that that our  ship-Nigeria is  rudderless and  no real  leader  at  the helm  to  guide  us to  safety so that  we  can  flourish.

I  do  remember when  you receive  visitors  in the  days  of yore, you  place about  6 different bottles of  iced  beverage  in  front  of  them  and  then place up some  choicest meat  and that was  for  starters. This  was  not  a rich  man’s home  it  was an average  person’s home, not so  very  long  ago.

I  remember getting  in a taxi without trepidation and  telling  the  driver  to  keep  the  change.  These were the days between the army and the politicians. Schools were good and you know  if you did well,  you  can  get  a  job. Most of  all you  wanted to help your parents  who  had  been there for  you and  paid  your  school  fees. When  we  talk  and  pray  we should  be  praying  for  a better  time  for  our children and  we should  be  working  towards  better for  our children. Or shouldn’t we? Am I wrong?

So the esteemed, Noble Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka said, “Let us face it; this nation is on the brinks. Those who do understand it, I feel very sorry for them because they will one day wake up and find out that we have fallen as a nation. This is not what we envisaged when we struggled for independence. This is not what we envisaged when we struggled to overthrow military dictatorship and restore the rights and dignity of human beings. But whether we like it or not, it has come upon us.”

I am sure many scoffed, some rained abuse, the rest went along, as always, back  into their  denial mode .

Until we as individuals  take  a long  hard look  at  ourselves,  we will   remain  in limbo  and  nothing  will  change unless we  all  work  together. What is the alternative? It is bad, it will get worse, but can it get worse than worse?  Should it?  There has to  be a  point of  no  return  and I  believe we  have  very  nearly  got  there. I have more questions than answers. Can we  honestly  say that  the  way  Nigeria is right  now  is  healthy  for  us  and  our children? It  has  been  said that  Nigeria  is  the  worse place for  a  child  to  be  born in this  year. On  top  of that  we  now  have  the  dubious  membership  of  being a  terrorist  country.  That is, we are on top  of  the kidnapping country   league  table  of  course ,we  also have  most corrupt and fraudulent nation  titles.

Our youths are massively unprepared for the modern world; academically, morally and developmentally.  They cannot  compete with their counterparts elsewhere .They  feel  insecure, they  have  to  struggle  from  the  onset, they have  no say  in  their  future and  no  means  to  work  their  way  out  of  poverty.  They are the future Nigerians  and  instead it  seems while we fight and  backbite,others are siphoning and  brazenly emptying the  future  for our  children.

We  need  to  value  every life,we are too quick to shrug our shoulders, as many die needlessly on  bad roads, ill-equipped and  expensive health care services, it is appalling and we  keep  sailing  from one  disaster to  the next and  people remain  resolute that  we are  not  at  the brink ?  When I  left  the  country,  Andrew  was  on  television telling  Nigerians not to  check  out.  Some of us did and some came back home and  stayed.

What is really worth telling is that  those  of us  outside Nigeria, home remains  where our  heart  is and  we support  our  loved ones  at  home  and  I  would  hate  to  think  what  would  happen  if  that  was  not  the  case.

If  we  all sweep  our  own corner then  we  can  overwhelm that problem that  faces  Nigeria.   We  cannot  afford to keep  playing one  tribe  against another, this  way  we  muddy  the  waters  and  we allow our  distractors  to  get away  with more of the same  and even  worse.

They say a country deserves its government, it sounds harsh but we do.  How  can  we  want  the best  of  everything but we  are consistently failing  to  work  towards the best. I know that the problem is not  Nigeria, Nigeria  is  green  and  rich in  resources and as  for  location , we  could not  have  wished for a better place  to  call home, we  really are  so blessed. So  whether  we  like  it or not Nigeria is our  home and  wherever else  we  go, is never going to feel  like   home.

‘Oluwole dwarfed by his heritage’

My respected elder, Balogun of  Iddo, Chief S.A. Jimoh, invited me to the marriage of  one of his daughters’ in Lagos.

Of course, there in resplendent glory were all the well-heeled Egba and the hospitality of the Alake was outstanding. Jimoh’s daughter was to marry into the Awolowo clan. Nothing prepared me that it was Oluwole Awolowo was being referred to. I entered the reception venue and I met the Awolowos. Segun (Jnr) headed the clan as the son of the head of the family, though Segun senior was dead and there was Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, Segun(Jnr)’s aunt.

Oluwole was not seen around. That was not expected in the Yoruba society. We wait at home for good news like of betrothals. So I did not know Wole had been ill. That he had been in an auto accident which was troubling; since 2006! And it has been the cause of his end in March this year.

I was an admirer of Chief Awolowo until he died and I never met him in flesh. Yet, I worked for the Tribune on the heady days of turbulence of the crises. I worked there between 1963 and 1964.  I knew Wole from a distance but know of his exploits in positive pursuits.

As my own Uncle Biz said, Wole’s output has been “dwarfed by his heritage,” Awo’s has been prodigious. Wole has done the three things a man must do; father a child, write a book and plant a tree and he did much more.  He was a manager of men and resources, he was a politician at local level and at state level.

Tributes has been pouring in as well as condolences to Chief (Mrs) H.I.D. Awolowo and  Wole’s siblings. Our President somehow got the cake. For him, it was another opportunity for politicking. He assured the family that his administration would render necessary support to the children of the deceased.

The entire WEST will miss Wole and I trust Lagos will hold session for him. Adeiu, Unbreakable.

Kola  Animasaun.

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