By Sunny Ikhioya
CERTAIN events happening in Nigeria these past few days, leaves one no choice but to liken the unfolding situation to a barber’s chair: it keeps rolling on one spot without movement; such is our way. They say we should only comment on positive things about our country; but is this possible when the reality is a different picture?
A Biblical story about the Hebrews has it that while in captivity their captors demanded from them songs of happiness but they questioned themselves: ‘How can we sing love songs when we are in captivity in a strange land?’
One would love to write beautiful things about this country; how we sang and danced together as one on Independence day of October 1, 1960. How we travelled through all parts of the country as students on excursions to Jos, Bauchi(Yankari Games Reserve), Kaduna; Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar and other interesting places all over the country, each with its own distinctive features.
How as youth corps members we were accepted in every community we visited as ‘government pikin’. How the Niger Delta was flourishing with people from all over the world, enjoying the hospitality and delicacies of the people and the free inflow and outflow of merchant vessels in our waters.
How you can travel to Lagos and crash into any Owambe party without invitation; you will be fully entertained to your heart’s desires. That was how we were: the hospitality of our diverse peoples, regular power supply, free education and elite feeding and accommodation for tertiary education students.
A proud country that was able to face off the United States and Great Britain over Apartheid South Africa. How do we keep quiet when our fellow Nigerians are in kidnappers den, with no visible efforts at rescuing them?
Where are our Chibok girls and all the others? One would love to write more about this beautiful country and its people but cannot do this because if we do we will be delving into the realm of fiction and conjecture, which will be detrimental to our purpose.
We must tell ourselves the truth: when you identify your problem, the next thing to do is to find ways of fixing it; but when you refuse to accept your problem, the solution remains elusive. Our people needed to be sensitised, and government needed to be reawakened to the challenges confronting us, and pushing this under the carpet will only make things worse.
We have aliens in our midst who are not following the standard of decorum expected in a decent society; these ones must be made to go back to where they came from. The opening of our borders to all and sundry is something we must interrogate and the authorities must know this.
We cannot write beyond what we see on ground, and outside our circumstances, we have seen it in the type of movies coming out of Nollywood: they are not always palatable but are reflections of our society. We have also seen it in the lyrics of our musicians who are making waves all over the world.
We must reflect the positives of this country and also the negatives. The beauty of this country has been pushed to the background and the vultures have taken over; nobody takes responsibility for actions taken.
Recently in Senegal, one of their hospitals experienced an incident which caused the death of 11 children; the health minister was promptly removed from office. We saw how people brought in fake petroleum products and how the whole country was grounded as a result of it, yet not one official has been called to account to this day; it is business as usual for those in charge and they say that we should not complain.
Our challenges are mostly self-inflicted and people do not want us to talk about them. Within one month we were confronted by this shocking news headlines: ‘Pregnant woman and 4 kids slaughtered in Anambra ‘, ‘Husband and wife beheaded in Imo’, ‘Legislator beheaded in Anambra ‘, ‘9 people bombed in Kano’, ’74 murdered in Borno and Katsina ‘, ‘Priest abducted in Katsina.
All of these and still counting, yet people want us to keep quiet. Professor Wole Soyinka, our famous Nobel Laureate, said in his book, The Man Died, that “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny?” How can we be witnessing such things in our land and keep quiet?
People have kept quiet as it concerns most of the actions of this government, with the understanding that if everyone gives them the required cooperation and necessary support, things will turn out better; as they say, pain now and gain later. But what have we seen? The naira is now down by 70% of what it was when he took over and its keeps tumbling; the prices of diesel and other petroleum products have hit the roof, with airline sectors are threatening to go on strike.
All our refineries are idle and the whole nation is waiting eagerly for the Dangote Refinery to take off; indeed, we have been waiting for the Dangote Refinery to take off since 2019. We are in the first half of year 2022 and still cannot say with certainty when the take off date will be. The promise of the Port Harcourt Petrochemical Refinery is still hanging and Nigeria has become the only oil-producing country in the world that is not benefiting from the crude oil price increases.
We are an agricultural producing nation; in fact, in school, we were taught that 70 per cent of Nigeria’s working population is in the agriculture sector. Today that sector has been ravaged by insecurity with no posible end in sight. As we continue to moan and groan over all of these, our politicians are as usual busy with their politics of open settlement.
The All Progressive Congress, APC, has for inexplicable reason been wooing former President Goodluck Jonathan to join its rank and possibly become its as presidential candidate. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has already settled for former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
The story of how money played a big role in the outcomes of the primaries have been told and will continue to reverberate throughout the land. With Atiku’s emergence, is it the end of the quest for a Southern president?
Some of us believe that our survival is tied to a subservient relationship with the North and these are supposed to be educated men and elites. When I saw them jumping up and down during the convention, I felt pity for this country. Pity because the slow progression of this country is tied to the actions and betrayals of these individuals.
You cannot give what you do not have; it’s like the cart pulling the horse instead of the other way round. That is how our colonial masters had programmed it and that is how it has been till this day.
The star of the PDP Convention, the only woman in the presidential race, Mrs Olivia Tariela, who gave a strong voice on why we must rescue this country from the local government level, scored only one vote, they ignored her message; they went for the money. That is our way, the barber’s chair rolling on one spot without movement. We must continue to highlight these serious deficits in us until those in authority take heed.
Ikhioya wrote viawww.southsouthecho.com