I had wanted to adopt Simon Kolawole’s style of ‘And Four Other Things’ for this column because of the simple fact that there are many things to say about our dear country.
It’s the Independence anniversary on Wednesday, October 1, and you ask for the umpteenth time, what does one say that has not been said in the past 54 years? The saying, the more things change the more they remain the same, appears to have been coined exclusively for Nigeria. I mean the same issues my parents’ generation – 70 year old and above – battled against are the things confronting those of us who are in our 40s, 50s, and 60s.
So, will Nigeria change for the better and, by extension, will Nigerians too adopt a new way of thinking and action? That song in pidgin, which says If you ask me na who I go ask, is perhaps the most fitting answer.
Let’s tell ourselves some bitter truth today, most of us are as bad as the leaders we deride and condemn. Across our country today, there is an absolute lack of work ethic that we should be ashamed of and it cuts across both skilled and unskilled workers. Workers usually assume they are doing you a favour when you complain about sloppy service or negligence to duties in their places of assignment. It took me nearly six weeks to get a debit card from my bank; yes, six weeks in these days of so-called cashless economy, and it still had the effrontery of asking me to fill a new form to ask for the card again. My refusal to do so suddenly got me a card two days after. Please don’t ask me to switch banks as I can tell you all banks in Nigeria are the same in efficiency and response to customer needs.
Or what do I say about SWIFT Networks, an Internet service provider, whose service has gone so bad that its modem is now part of my furniture while attempts at logging a complaint have been unsuccessful with only one telephone line available for customer enquiries? What of telephone networks that exist principally to swindle us of our hard-earned money via drop calls that have increased exponentially in the last one month? We are equally blessed with a fantastic Communication Commission that spends more time and resources in defending the telecommunication companies than the customers. The less said about artisans the better, as nearly all of us must have had a terrible experience while dealing with them. It is pathetic that majority of the artisans Nigerians are comfortable with now are our neighbours from countries that surround us.
This is not a commendation for our leaders, not at all. As a matter of fact, I think the hottest part in hell should be reserved for most Nigerian leaders. We have the unfortunate experience of being saddled with leaders who have set us back in the last 54 years. It is debatable if any country can have it worse than ours in the kind of leadership afflicting us. Look around you; many of our political leaders leave you depressed than excited and we are perhaps the only society where people are rewarded for failure in politics. The latest craze is governors whose terms have expired or expiring wanting to become senators again so that they can continue to lord over the rest of us. Daily we drive on roads that are so bad that makes one ask rhetorically do our elected representatives live here or in Mars? Even a political party that some thought would give a veneer of hope than the rampaging locusts at work presently behaved true to type last week when it released a list of fees aspirants would pay to pick its nomination forms.
Nigeria is in the throes of a low-intensity war that an army known for its exploits worldwide appeared to be losing until three weeks back because of the tepid reaction from political leaders. It took mutiny by some soldiers to draw attention to the plight of those saddled with the defence of our territorial integrity. Pray, how come those who have fought commendably outside our shores cannot defeat insurgents at home? So where do we go from here? Surely it is not all doom and gloom as some Nigerians are doing great in their areas of calling. They deserve kudos for lifting high the banner of Nigeria and because of them, we know that our country will be what it ought to be one day.
But we cannot afford to give up on Nigeria, I surely believe we will turn the corner and fulfill our potentials. May that day come quickly.