By Denrele Animasaun
“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” — Desmond Tutu
It is important to hope. Hope that life gets better, that Nigeria has a change in fortune, that there is a future brighter than the present. Hope. Hope is in big demand in Nigeria, more so now than ever and understandably, culturally, it has always been the currency of many Nigerians, hope and its partner: prayers but always wrapped up tightly in a neat package.
Shame,we cannot build our reality on hope alone just as man cannot live on bread alone. We have to do more and act more to decide, commit and then,achieve more than just hope.
The heavy lifting is the responsibility of each and every Nigerian but the feeling of helplessness has surpassed the commitment to do and commit to make change happen. Nigerians cannot live on hope alone. It only works if we all work and strive to make real selfless changes for the greater good and then we can hope and make genuine prayers backed up always with reality and commitment.
We have lost the purpose of Ubuntu; I AM, BECAUSE WE ARE, the collective humanity in us as people and we have become the biblical Babel; driven by self interests and as a result no longer speak as one.
This is a crying shame. Our politicians and their gullible followers have perpetuated the sleight of hand, distractions and gaslighting that they have far too many Nigerians convinced that the problems of Nigeria lies with the ‘others’and not their ineptness and their inability to serve the general interests of Nigerians.
So while Nigerians continue to live substandard and precarious lives, merely striving, eroding the middle class and condemning majority of the population to abject and grinding poverty, the so-called elite live lives of opulence while scattering empty promises of hope for a better Nigeria. They say fool me once, shame on me. But fool me countless times? The fault has to be the collective Nigerians who vote these political hoodlums in time and time again on the promise of hope. They say a country deserve the government they get. So the problem is collectively Nigerians, all Nigerians.
Lunacy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. We are, what Nigeria is waiting for, we have to change the narrative.
We are the architects of our lives and our destiny but, we have to want better and also do better. We definitely have to come off our knees and stop waiting for crumbs off the table of the greedy politicians and stop wanting free and easy money.
The people have been in a fantasy doldrum for so long that the escape from stark reality is to hope and nothing happens. It seems majority of Nigerians do not really give that they deserve any better than they are getting. They have in reality, lost hope. We are are our own worst enemy.
My father wrote in his column, The Voice of Reason in June 2001; “We are our own worst enemy”
‘Alfa Yakubu died a couple of weeks ago. He was about 26 and was a furniture maker. When he died, he left a pregnant wife and two small kids. Death has become two for a penny that it could have been taken as just another One. No doubt, it was another death whichever way one looks at it. Islam has made even bearing of that burden easier: it was destined to be. What bothers me today is not that Alfa Yakubu died; it was our attitude to our work, which in the case of Alfa Yakubu, might not have aborted his death but could have minimised the pain. Perhaps. I should begin from the beginning. Somebody was lamenting a ghastly motor accident that happened at Cappa, Oshodi a couple of days earlier.
The details were so gory that I still shudder anytime I remember them. According to reporters, a Danfo bus was heading for Oshodi bus stop from Mushin, fully loaded.
A Molue took off from the opposite direction from Oshodi and took a U-turn at Cappa(something that was prohibited but which recalcitrant drivers did all the time). The Molue took the U-turn abruptly that the unsuspecting smaller danfo ran into it.The impact was such that the Danfo did a three -time somersault and burst into flames. The report was that not a soul survived. It however, turned out that a soul survived and that soul was Alfa Yakubu from Aiyetoro near Ipokia, interior part of Ogun state. He emerged with over 70 percent burns. When he was retrieved from the burning wreck, he was not a good sight to behold. On top of his burns, he also suffered a fracture in one of his legs. Good Samaritans tried to help; he was rushed to the General hospital, Ikeja,but he was rejected. Dejected, they took the suffering man to Alausa for ruler, Bola Tinubu, to behold. Tinubu did not like what he saw and he ordered an ambulance to take him to the General hospital, Lagos for medical attention.
Alfa Yakubu was received most gladly and prompt attention was paid to him that Tuesday. The impression being that Alfa Yakubu was a local furniture maker but a VIP given the state of his arrival. The next day, his handler expected the throng of VIP visitors to the accident victim. Rather those that trooped in were ordinary people representing the class of Alfa Yakubu. He was instantly ignored, clamped at a corner. And he needed help badly.
Alfa Ahmadu Tijani, a pal of the furniture maker, came to see me and asked if I could intercede in the matter. It was from him that I got fuller details. They had come to me because they were at their wits end. They had wanted to take him to a private hospital and they had contributed the sum of N50,000 towards the deposit of N100 000 which the hospital, St. Nicholas, had asked. I went to see Segun Ayobolu, the CPS to the governor who expressed indignation at the report, he called Dr Leke Pitan who promised to call and instruct them on what to do and I attest that he(Pitan) did because he was shocked at the death of Alfa Yakubu when I told him. Alfa Yakubu did not get the required attention and the man died. Alfa Yakubu died because he was a common man, but he was killed for lack of care by common men(and women).
The ruler can lay policies and provide the wherewithal to pursue the policies. Change will come if ordinary people, the workers; hold up their own end of the bargain.
This is the reality for ordinary Nigerians up and down the country, day in day out. So much has happened that people have forgotten how to be human, showing compassion or pride in what we do.