Columns

September 15, 2023

Good news, for a change! By Donu Kogbara

Good news, for a change! By Donu Kogbara

I CAME across a video of the new Lagos Blue Line Rail service on LinkedIn a few days ago. And I find it so comforting and uplifting that I keep playing and replaying it with a silly smile on my face and tears in my eyes. When I told a friend about my obsessive love for this video, she concluded that I have finally gone completely mad!

Yes, it is borderline insane to react emotionally to nondescript footage of regular working folks being carried from one station to another in a standard commuter train….especially since I grew up in the UK where there’s a sophisticated public transport system.

But I’ve gradually discovered over the years that Nigeria is a land of endless disappointments, self-inflicted backwardness and unfulfilled potential…a place full of clever and energetic people who cannot drag their country into the twenty first century and give themselves basics like round-the-clock electricity. A nation that has been severely undermined by corrupt leaders and spineless followers. 

I am so fed up with Nigeria and other African countries being embarrassing basket cases; and on the rare occasions when I see significant progress being made, I am almost pathetically thrilled and relieved.

Every single major Nigerian city should have a Blue (or green or yellow or whatever!) Line by now. All major cities should have been linked to each other decades ago. It should also be possible to travel from Eastern Nigeria to Western Nigeria on a coastal train. Railways have been around since the nineteenth century in serious countries. It is not rocket science. We can afford it.

I’d like to congratulate Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu of Lagos State – and everyone who made this positive new development happen. 

Readers responses

LAST week, in the wake 

of the controversial election tribunal verdict, I expressed the view that most Nigerians are too willing to tolerate rubbish. I complained about a syndrome I described as Najia Paralysis. Here are some of the responses I received from Vanguard readers. Two requested anonymity:  

From a gentleman who ran election in Akwa Ibom

Donu, you hit part of the nail but you missed the head.  If you think about it, deeply Nigerians will make you laugh. This is our country, we know who we are. The elections started with primaries, delegates randomly picked, across all parties, all religions, male and female gathered at different places to pick their candidates and all of them took money. 

The more viable the party ticket was perceived the more money the delegates got. Fact. Some tried to collect (double) from more than one candidate. Move to the elections, hundreds of thousands of youth corps members, hundreds of thousands of police officers, 774 electoral officers, thousands of INEC staff, Army, Navy, hundreds of thousands of university staff, professors, academics, ad hoc staff, thousands of thugs, even millions of voters.

Every single one of these people were Nigerians who took active part in the 2023 elections in Nigeria. Different homes, religions, male and female rich and poor they all played a part in elections and they all TOOK MONEY, GAVE MONEY one way or the other to sabotage the outcome of the elections in favour of either what they desire or what they were paid for. All these people are Nigerians randomly picked and assigned their roles, they all chose self over country. Yet in that same society you believe that we can randomly find five Nigerians who will now objectively look at all this and tell us what is wrong. Really? How reasonable is that expectation. It’s time smell the coffee. Nigeria not one man, the entire country needs a rejig. It is only those in power that can lead the change and the clear route to power in a criminal society may not be the straight and narrow. Think about it.

From JOHN AKPAN

We secured independence from Britain nearly on a platter. There weren’t hard struggles as there were in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, etc. It is through those struggles that a people or a country builds the culture of collective outrage, collective resistance, and collective will for popular action that brings about social change or revolution. Without that history or culture of collective resentment or outrage, collective will, and collective action, Donu, it would be difficult to activate popular action in Nigeria. 

From an official of Edo State government

I just read your piece…NAIJA PARALYSIS…what bitter but yet timely truth to tell us Nigerians. We are quick to accept crumbs from the tables of these masters of the Manor while they look down at us with disdain and scorn. We are too quick to retreat to our comfort zones leaving the fight for liberation to a very insignificant few. I am also guilty. 

With the kind of charade that went on at the PEPT, it is very difficult for one to have hope in this country. It amazes me that judges will act as lawyers to an interested party to a dispute before them. 

Lots of things that went on that day I couldn’t understand. It’s either we the oppressed masses get out from our comfort zones and be prepared to lose our lives in the process if necessary, else we will remain where we are.

 I do not know if it would be right to say “God help Nigeria” at this point because I do not think God interferes in matters he has given us powers to deal with. We better wake up and smell the coffee like they say or we all die smelling this ‘shit.’ Pardon my language.

RESPONSES TO  [email protected] or to 0805 404 6887. PLEASE KINDLY NOTE THAT UNLESS YOU REQUEST ANONYMITY, YOUR EMAIL OR TEXT MAY BE PUBLISHED WITH YOUR NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS ATTACHED.