May 20, 2024

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Nigeria@63: Should I Continue Dreaming?…Other Voices & Perspectives On Nigeria@63

Ik Muo, PhD.

You have made us an object of scorn among our neighbours; our enemies make a mockery of us! (Psalm 80:6)

Our leaders have low sense-of-shame-quotient and are recklessly exposing their  dirty ‘nyash’  in the global market square

I had scheduled this intervention for last week  of September before it dawned on me that the independence season was at hand. That shows how bad things are; that we would ‘jump and pass’ October1  just like that!  I don’t think anybody sent me a ‘Happy Independence greeting’ but I came across somebody who received such a greeting and who responded…Happy What?  However this intervention is also suitable for our 63rd Independence Anniversary.

On August 28, 1968 , Martin Luther King Jnr made that great ‘I have a dream’ speech, which has celebrated at all times since then, especially in August. During the Martin Luther King season of 2003( 20 years ago), I was led by the spirit to pen down my own dreams for Nigeria, titled ‘I (also) have a dream’. At that time, my children were  aged 13, 11, 9 and 5. I peeped into my mystic pot and assured them  of a better Nigeria, where no one would be oppressed and where we would live in peace and unity even if tongues, tribes and religions differed. Now, 20 years later, my children, who have now become adults are witnessing a bitter Nigeria rather than a better one, with embittered, divided, desperate and frustrated people all over the place. In that 20 year old article, I had concluded: ‘Yes, I have those dreams and I shall continue to dream. These dreams shall come to pass;  it may be in my life time or in the life time of my children. It shall come to pass soon and how soon it is will be determined by what we all do or fail to do how we make a choice of those things we do and how well we do them. But definitely, it shall come to pass’.  Lets go down the memory lane as I share with you the dream I had in 2003 as published in page11 of Daily Champion16/9/02023, when  we were preparing for our 43rd independence anniversary. It was also published in at least 10 National Newspapers then. Read One…

The earth is in turmoil and there are all sorts of turbulence everywhere. The rich nations are getting richer, manipulating the already skewed world economic order further to their advantage and to the detriment of the rest, the wretched of the earth.Me-ship’ has reached dangerous proportions amongst the citizens of the world; extreme suspicion, distrust and hatred characterise the relationships between peoples of different races and religions, and there are conflicts, violence and unrestrained use of force everywhere. Despair, desperation and poverty are the lots of the majority of earth’s people. Avoidable conflicts, kleptomaniac, megalomaniac and barren leadership cover the face of Africa while increasing illiteracy, mass pauperization and ‘where do we go from here’ feeling pervade the air in Nigeria, a nation prodigiously blessed by the Almighty, a nation where hope has become a scarce commodity and as a result, greed-propelled mercantilist Pentecostalism, based on magical economic prosperity and questionable miracles, signs, and wonders, booms uncontrollably. But amidst all this and in spite of all this, I have a dream!

I have a dream that one day, in the not too distant future, politicians, politicking and the political landscape in Nigeria will all become ‘born again. Politics will be transformed into a ‘clean game’ played by honest, committed and service-driven citizens who want to improve the lots of their people and not to amass wealth. Political parties will  transform into assemblages of people of like minds, bound together by common purposes, ideologies and the zeal to serve; party  primaries will be transparent and candidates chosen on the basis of their competence and credibility. Politicking will be based on issues, money will play an insignificant role, violence will be counter-productive, godfathers will become childless and rigging will no longer be the way’. Voters  will no longer be swayed by cups of salt and bars of soap, sectional, tribal or religious sentiments, and the whims of the ‘ogas. This is a political order in which the will of the people as indicated by their votes will become supreme. The resulting form of governance will be people-oriented and characterised by responsiveness, responsibility, transparency, consultation, and the absence of hidden agenda. Government services will be efficient, effective and result oriented with minimal bureaucracy and operated by adequately trained, equipped, rewarded and motivated workers who are really civil and who are really servants.

I have a dream that our economy will become the pride of  Nigerians who will no longer  need to bond themselves into servitude in foreign lands and the toast of genuine foreign investors. The Naira will become strong and sought after, the real sectors of the economy will shine, made-in-Nigeria goods, produced by companies operating at full capacity, will enjoy local and foreign patronage, we shall shed our mono-cultural (oil-only-economy) status and there will be no more need to import everything-including sand. Our balance of payment and foreign  reserves positions will be so healthy that we will once more become net lenders in the International Financial Markets while the Breton Woods Institutions will be begging us to borrow from them (since we would have become  ‘under-borrowed’ by then)  and parade us as an example of prudence and sound economic management to other distressed, beggarly, nations. Rural-urban dichotomy will vanish; an enviable level of employment will exist, poverty and the embarrassingly widening income inequality will be a thing of the past. It will no longer be a nation of 100 millionaires and 100 million beggars. Corruption will only be mentioned in the past tense and earmarked funds will be eye-marked

I have a dream that one day, and that will be soon, fuel crises (related to scarcity or ‘subsidy’) will be  a thing of the past and our infrastructure will become the global benchmark for excellence. Electricity supply will be reliable and adequate and we shall drop our medal as the highest generator-importing nation. Our roads will be known more for their smoothness and durability and not for muddy drum-holes, colourless and ordourless water will be available everywhere, every time and the telecommunication services will be available, reliable and affordable and we shall become active participants (instead of peripheral onlookers) in the global digital economy. Medical services will be for all and the spectacle of full-blooded Nigerians begging on Federal T.V stations for funds to offset medical bills will merely become an unfortunate paragraph in our social history. People will no longer need to rush for questionable certificates abroad because the educational system will be effective with operator and consumer friendly policies and contended teachers who put the students first and teach what they are paid to teach. Our cities will become really beautiful and occupied by only human beings to the exclusion of refuse heaps, extra-large rats, imported cockroaches, and mosquitoes.

I have a dream that African continent will assume a pride of place in the global scheme of things as against the current situation in which the countries are played against each other through a ruthless carrot and stick strategy and good old divide and rule tactics and used as pawns in the chessboard of predatory international politics. I dream of a prosperous, united, and developed Africa where there will be no more poverty, illiteracy, disease, and internecine, foreign-propelled conflicts. I dream of Africa led by genuinely elected leaders who are committed to the wellbeing of their people and the continent  and not by those parading mercenary credentials and suffering from acute ‘loot-mania. It will no longer be an Africa where a black few allied to business interests from Europe and America will ruthlessly exploit their own people and their own countries, where ‘so few will wield the power of life and death over so many’; where leaders  betray  each other so as to be in the white-man’s good book!

I also have a dream that one day, and that will be soon, we will all live in a world free of poverty, illiteracy, disease, want and fear; a world where equity and fair play will be the norm; where there are no set of rules for the poor and weak nations and another set for the rich and mighty; where all nations and peoples are treated with respect and dignity; where the might is right doctrine will have no sponsors and where force will not be the only convertible currency. I dream of a world where those preaching against protectionism and subsidies are not the same people championing those practices  at home; where globalisation will not be limited to free movement of goods, technical services and capital, to the near total exclusion of labour. It will no longer be a world where SARS, a minor disease that killed only 300 people in China, will be declared a global emergency while diseases that kill hundreds of thousands in Africa are not even captured in the WHO medical radar let alone attracting any iota of attention.

Yes, I have those dreams and I shall continue to dream. These dreams shall come to pass;  it may be in my life time or in the life time of my children. It shall come to pass soon and how soon it is will be determined by what we all do or fail to do how we make a choice of those things we do and how well we do them. But definitely, it shall come to pass ! Concluded!

I don’t need to recap the present sitrep for anybody because we are seeing it with our koro-koro eyes: The  wretched state of Naira, fuel prices and crises, poverty, political  perfidy and COURTocracy, corruption raised to power x, unimaginable infrastructure-decay, conflicts, and widening inequality.  The world is also still  in turmoil and the LDCs continue to be wickedly manipulated and exploited! The truth, unfortunately,  is that it has NOT come to pass and we are  VERY FAR from those dreams!   Indeed, if we can go back to 2003, we shall actually thank God even though a Benin trader had declared BOLDLY that ‘we cannot go yesterday’! So, what do I do with my dreams’? As I have joined the circle of elders and steadily approaching the 7th floor of life, should I continue to dream? What I should tell my children, whom I had assured  20 years ago that the future would be bright?

Before Akujiobi Ukeje accuses me of being Jeremiahic, let me share two perspectives on Nigeria @63 from Dr Agu Onwuzuruoha and Sota Omoigu!

Other Voices: Perspectives on Nigeria at 63(1)

Nigeria stranded in a forest of a thousand demons! (Agu Onwuzuruoha)

In the timeless timelessness of time or against the backdrop of eternity, 63 years is like an evening past. But in the life of a country, 63 years should be a most eventful period. I refuse to join the charade of greetings without substance! Like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Laureate asked in a Harvard Inaugural four decades ago, what is the joy all about? What are we celebrating today? It is the decline of Nigeria and the destruction of  Nigerian dream, ideals and idealisms. Civic cowardice, debilitating tribalism, an attenuated press, internet stupor, immoral legalism, the escalating audacity of electoral heist and descent into COURTocracy have turned the country into an ABSURDISTAN. Suddenly, the end is justifying the means as PROCESS is assassinated on the Golgotha of inordinate ambition and filthy lucre. Dynastic poverty is being entrenched resulting  in immiseration  on the scale never seen before as victims and perpetrators become fungible because of tribal solidarity. For the first time in living memory religious leaders are murmuring instead of rising as one like Cardinal Okojie was a thorn in the flesh of totalitarianism in the days of yore! Where is the Liberation Theology that Catholic Priests used to confront oppressive rulers in Latin America? Where are the Gani Fawehinmi’s trenchant advocacy that kept the military jackboots on their toes? A large number of petite bourgeoisie have been coopted and you can read them on social media mouthing malarial nonsense trying to defend a status quo erected, draining it of life on the anabolic steroids of lies. The auguries are foreboding in Nigeria. In oriental religions, they talk of a crossing of stars but in Nigeria but in Nigeria,  state and elite captures are writ large! Why does each succeeding regime become worse than its successor in Nigeria? But we are like the characters in Samuel Beckett’s surrealist play: Waiting for Godot; but will Godot ever come? The answer is in the womb of time. The Igbo say echi di ime (tomorrow is pregnant)! We pray that tomorrow doesn’t birth a monstrosity that would make Frankeistan look like a child’s play, I will end with a Yoruba greeting: Eku Ilu!

 Other Voices: Perspectives on Nigeria at 63(2)

Our  Leaders have failed us(Sota Omoigu, Coauthor, National Anthem)

When I wrote my words for the anthem, it was  my dream for the country to move forward and take its place among great nations of the world. But all the potentials have been hijacked and degraded by a political leadership that constitute a criminal enterprise… Our leaders have failed us. They have failed to serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith. They have failed to create a nation bound n freedom, peace and unity; they have failed to be guided by God and are unable to teach our youth in love and honesty as they neither have love no honesty; they live corruptly and have failed to live just and true.

Our nation is awash with corruption and no one is accountable for their actions. Political offices and purchased by the highest bidders who pay using the spoils of office. The resources of our nation have been hijacked by political elites who like vampires have sunk their fangs into the jugular of the country slowly draining  the life out of it… The amount lost to corruption in the oil sector alone is up to $15bn annually. That money is enough to revamp the  dilapidated infrastructure nationwide and create jobs and employment opportunities.

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Our people groan under the yoke of this corruption that does not allow them to breath. They suffer  in poverty with a currency  that has undergone a 1000% devaluation since we wrote the national anthem! There is both food insecurity and  personal insecurity with kidnappings of our school children and killings of our citizens. When food prices exceed the  salary of a worker, men sell their dignity and women sell their honour… Meanwhile politicians steal and embezzle hundreds of millions from our commonwealth with no consequences. In fact, they are rewarded with more plum political positions and the opportunity to steal more.

Our youth have become hopeless and helpless and are dying in the seas and deserts trying to escape from the country for a better life elsewhere. Those left behind see the greed, looting and pillaging by their leaders, have no opportunities for economic empowerment and resort to internet scams, fraud, prostitution banditry and kidnapping to make ends meet. Thus, innocent people are made to pay the price for the corruption of our leaders.

You have heard the other voices; No be me talk am!

 Ik Muo, PhD. FCIB. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026624