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.