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Nigeria: Sleepwalking @ 60!

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By Denrele Animasaun

Sixty years of sleepwalking

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”― Socrates

Independence Day is upon us and I am sure that some Nigerians are preparing to celebrate. For those who want to celebrate for celebrations sake, I do not begrudge them; there is a saying rather than cry, you might as well laugh. I am not in the mood for either. I would rather spend my time in quiet contemplation.

If there is a need to celebrate, let us celebrate our first responders; our nurses and doctors who selflessly tending to the sick in these Covid times. They are our heroes and heroines yet, they are underpaid and undervalued.  We owe them our heartfelt  gratitude and respect.

Nigeria is at the  precipice  and string down at the deep abyss; an unseen pandemic; Covid that our very survival is at stake with a grave disadvantage-lack of access to affordable health services, grinding poverty, despairing young people, violence, dirty politicos and greed.

This is not about playing the sad song over and over again, it is dispiriting and despairing.  As we near sixty years as a nation, this state of being should have been a thing of the past, it should not be our present or future.

I can not get my head round those who want to stick their head deeply in the sand or worse still, so deluded, who believe that everything and everyone is well.

Yes, I am sure there are the very few, living large and sumptuous lives, and this does not negate the lives of the many. We  often point to the rich as  standard of Nigeria’s  living standard. Well, it is not so and in reality, far too many are merely existing. We really do not need the same promise of a better tomorrow; Nigerians can not live on empty promises alone, not then, not now and not ever.

They say, that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity. The delusional state if the so called giant of Africa does no Nigerian any good. Nigerians need a  drastic change in socio-political mind-set. Our very existence depends in it.

I applaud our young people who despite the current dire situation are nation building and creating a niche for a better Nigeria, I really do.  Their drive and zeal is incredible and  in a better environment , they would be contributing to a better Nigeria.

The talk of restructuring and devolution is comical; if it is like this now, what are the chances of improvement when states or tribes are devolved.  The very same people that are instrumental in ruining the country now want Nigerians to trust them with their futures!  It would be laughable if it was not dire. They got the country into this mess and now want to dig a further mire by devolution! It has always been about what they can pillage they have never had the interest of Nigerians at heart. They can not be trusted; not now or ever.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.― Mahatma Gandhi

From my archive. Are we there yet?-

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

I repeat, we all stand before history – Ken Saro-Wiwa

Yes, October 1, 2012. Independence Day came and went in my household, without a muster or fanfare. I vowed two years ago, that future Nigeria’s Independence Day at least, in my household, would not be a time for whimsicalities but one of quiet contemplation.

So true to my  word, my  family  and  I celebrated  the achievements of   great Nigerians who  have truly contributed positively to the  lives of  our people.

2015:

I often wake up, morning after the night before and wonder how I missed a day or how the day missed me. That is how I feel on every October 1st. Nigerian Independence Day is often an underwhelming affair for me. Yet, it upsets me .You sometimes wish it will pass already. No fanfare, no ceremony and definitely no announcements and I am usually left with a sinking feeling that another year older and yet, same old problems. What is there to celebrate? When I was growing up, we eagerly looked forward to October the 1st.

There was a well known song; ‘I love Nigeria, I no go lie, na inside am I go live and die.’

I rather prefer that Nigeria and the Nigerian condition improve positively, that its people prefer and choose to live and thrive in Nigeria and that they do not have to struggle to survive at home or make perilous journeys to make it abroad. Do not get me wrong, there are people who are thriving but at the expense of the majority. That is not right. We know Nigerians will thrive if the condition is right, those in the diaspora have proved that time and time again.

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My former boss responded to his question; ‘my view is that patriotism should not be conditional on our country (Nigeria) being perfect any more than our love for our parents being conditional on their perfection. The Nigerian democratic project is a work in progress given that it has only achieved its independence in the last 59 years, most of which has been under military dictatorship. The countries of Europe against which Nigerians compare their country unfavourably have been autonomous for centuries during which the various ethnic groups have learnt to coexist as nation states’.

access from its genocide, one would hope that Nigeria can definitely rise like the phoenix  by improving lowest ranking in the social  indicators in the Sub-S from its turbulent past.

No Nigerian government of recent past  can truly say they have made progress and improve the lives of millions of Nigerians. They say people find excuses when they fail to succeed.

The country has to look at places like the Emirates and  in particular, Dubai, a success story of building an opulent oasis in a desert. They have successfully diversified from oil wealth reliance and they have done much to make their institutions  places of excellence.

It is not lofty to think that Nigeria could become an incredible and impressive country after all; it had all the raw ingredients”.

So, as we close the chapter on 2018, our politicians have spectacularly failed to grapple with the concerns for most Nigerians: ingrained abject poverty, mass unemployment, raising mental ill health, erosion of  institutions, poor infrastructure establishments, insecurity, highest level abuse and violence, high rates of mortality rates among infants, children under the age of five and maternal deaths. This new year every voting age Nigerian should hold in their hand, the power to make the difference with their votes.

‘You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny’ Roy T. Bennett

– Out with old year, in with the New Year

As the year comes to an end, it is important to give thanks for life and blessings, no matter the size. Life and living is a gift denied to some. They say, when there is life, there is hope. It is true, that no matter how hard it is to believe especially when times are hard.

Nigeria with all its challenges, upheavals and obstacles remains home to millions of Nigerians and the only place many of us, truly feel eternally connected.  It is home, our hearth and our own corner of the world.

In the midst of all the scandals and gross inequalities, many of us cling to hope, a shakeable but unbreakable faith that in the end, Nigerians collectively will get the country back on track and working, thriving for all and not just the few.

To be frank, we are a recalcitrant and contumacious bunch; over the decades, we have lost our moral compass, customs  and values. Poverty has made many monsters, avaricious and unfeeling.

We have to go back to basics, what made us who we were as a people and as a country: neighbourly, united, warm and hospitable .

It is not hard to believe, we once were and we can be again. We have to be again.

There is hope: we are a resilient lot and particularly, our young people and  in spite of the hardship and lack of opportunities, they have carved the niche to stand out.  Whatever success they make or try to make is as a result of the tenacity of the Nigerian spirit in them. The determination to make it no matter what, is insatiable.

Hopefully, they will do more for the better because that’s what Nigeria needs, people who are not afraid to do decent and honest work and invigorate our economy and attract investment and safe environment to encourage similar minded people to grow.

‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men- Frederick Douglass

My former boss posed this question on his page; Can one truly love oneself while despising one’s country for its failings?

It generated the following responses:

This is akin to the relationship with our parents: can one love oneself while despising one’s parents for their failings?

Another; That is a conundrum,  who do you love more? Nigeria or Nigerians? One without the other is very difficult. Almost like choosing your favourite child amongst your children.

There is definitely a dichotomy, yet how can one love one’s country and not like its people? The fact is, it is not a happy medium, no country is perfect but we are not comparing Nigeria, but what it is, is the state of inertia and lack of moral responsibility of the collective or commitment of Nigerians to improve the Nigerian condition.

So perhaps, sometimes it helps to cherry pick where necessary depending on a present situation whether it is good or bad. What cannot be denied, is the ever present lure of home and its people always and forever in our very being.

That is true but it must not be confused at all.

I read Wole Soyinka’s BETWEEN ‘DIVIDERS-IN-CHIEF’ and DIVIDERS-IN-LAW , with some reservations, make of it what you will;

‘I am notoriously no fan of Olusegun Obasanjo, General, twice former president and co-architect with other past leaders of the crumbling edifice that is still generously called Nigeria. I have no reasons to change my stance on his record. Nonetheless, I embrace the responsibility of calling attention to any accurate reading of this nation from whatever source, as a contraption teetering on the very edge of total collapse. We are close to extinction as a viable comity of peoples, supposedly bound together under an equitable set of protocols of co-habitation, capable of producing its own means of existence, and devoid of a culture of sectarian privilege and will to dominate’

Adieu Azeez!

Azzeez Sanni was the Chief cartoonist with the Nation for over ten years, sharp and acute reading the pulse of the nation and succinctly  parodying the social ills of Nigeria, both politically and economically.  He was four times winner cartoonist of the year. He published  a compilation of his Nation Cartoons.

Vanguard

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