Today Nigeria celebrates her democracy. The government of the people, for the people and by the people, in our case it’s government of the few, for the few and by the few. I am not a hardcore patriot to be honest but I cannot stomach the situation of things in this country anymore. If you are expecting a mathematical, economic or scientific analysis of the situation of things in Nigeria from this piece then don’t waste your time. If such analysis exists and can be adopted to develop Nigeria then I leave it to the experts. I am just a young Nigerian proud to be a Nigerian but ashamed to be called a Nigerian. The problems facing this country are too numerous to be listed. We seem to excel at taking a step forward and three steps back. We have skidded off the road towards real development and are picking scraps for our day-to-day survival. Yes! Nigeria has potentials but what good is a gift if it is unutilized. As we celebrate democratic rule today, we must take it upon ourselves to reflect, what have we truly achieved and does this system really work for us? Pinpointing the problem of this country is like finding a needle in a hay stack. I have failed my country but my country has failed me greatly. Thinking about Nigeria and our problems as a nation makes me sad but as people say, Nigerians are the happiest people, even in recession we still find reasons to smile. And even the good book says ‘in all things give thanks’. I urge us all not to get carried away by the fact that we are the happiest people and forget our pains and sorrows.
Day by day we rob ourselves of our dignity and development. We must not lose sight of what is really important. We have conditioned our minds to adapt and survive in any situation, good or bad. But why settle for the latter when we can attain greatness. Enough deceit and time for action! Whenever we are asked the question who or what is the problem of this country most respond, our leaders! But who become leaders? The children you train, the individuals you mold into adults to discern between good or evil, right or wrong. The leaders of this country were once children, who pass through similar environment and situations we go through. They are children you refused to punish when they did wrong, the children who strived to be better and the children who made a resolution to become great. Too bad most of them have now grown into monsters.
Before you start throwing stones, I am not in any way praising our leaders though a little fraction of them are actually decent and diligent human beings. Most of them are egoistical, self-absorbed megalomaniacs who have less than nothing upstairs to offer but are favored by the corrupt system. Which begs the question, how did they get there? Yes! By hard work and persistent but most of them resorted to their wittiness and pockets and preyed on the gullibility of the Nigerian populace to get to where they are today. Let us open our eyes, and not forget that empty barrels make the most sound. Corruption is winning the war. Knowledge is power, even though money can be used to buy knowledge but the Nigerian society uses money to buy power eliminating knowledge which makes us vulnerable.
Our leaders refer to Nigerian youths as the future of tomorrow, what future? If I may ask, the one both our leaders and the people are squandering away? Has it eluded our minds that our actions today determine the outcome of tomorrow? Let us focus on what our real problems are. We have ill-equipped leaders and weak followers. How can citizens leave their comfort zones to fight for their rights when in reality comfort is just an illusion to them? Who will fight for us? Leaders are rotten and have placed the country in a situation where people are appreciative of the little they are given. You ask a vibrant youth for instance a NYSC member to jeer up to action and he or she replies as long as allowance is paid they are good. We have conditioned our minds to be okay with less than nothing. That mentality is why we remain stagnant.
We are clamoring for change but we seem to be comfortable with the way things are. Our leaders amass wealth blindly and foolishly for themselves like they will leave forever. Travelling abroad for medical treatment and not considering ways of improving the health sector in Nigeria to make them receive treatment here. Let us be realistic, the United States of America is one of the greatest and most powerful country in the world, this is because no matter what, they strive to make things better. When last did you hear of an American president or top government official travel out of the states to receive medical treatment? If they need it, they create it. We allow ourselves to be clouded by ethnic rivalries and stereotypes, always at each other’s necks like we are from different countries. Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik, Bendelite, and all other ethnic groups need to come together.
I for one am tired of hearing our leaders tell us funding, lack of manpower, technical aid, global warming, corruption and even tomato sellers are our problems. There is no need for subtlety, we are all Nigeria’s problem but our leaders are to be blamed, if they really want to be agents of change and truly have the intellectual capacity to be so, they need to stop giving excuses, identify problems and proffer and adopt solutions to these problems at hand. Sometimes when I listen to or read the news I tell myself, our leaders must really think Nigerians are stupid. Parliamentarians will seat for their so called plenary sessions and the most notable achievement some of them will accomplish will be a potbelly and an undeserving fat pockets.
We deserve individuals who at least have the intellectual power to be qualified for their offices. In all honesty, Nigerians are without a doubt hard working people but our struggles are made futile when the benefits and reward of our labor are not duly released by the minority so called leaders. They have buried themselves in their greed so deep that they cannot familiarize themselves with the struggles of the average Nigerian. Truth be told we are better off without some of our leaders. Youths are referred to as leaders of tomorrow but when will we be given the opportunity to lead? For decades we have been hearing the same names who have rooted themselves and their generation in seats of power.
I have focused on Nigerian leaders because they have wronged us but what are we the leaders of tomorrow doing in preparation to take on the mantle of leadership. Nigerian youths have lost focus of what is. We are too engulfed in our social lives that we fail to see the need to reform Nigeria. Leaders of tomorrow who tie their self-worth and self-esteem to society’s approval. We define success based on number of likes, followers and unread whatsapp messages. We document unimportant things in life and neglect the paramount aspects. A society where masculinity is judged by the number of female conquests and individuals with great intellectual capacity are turned into social pariahs. Slay queens and kings, hashtag freaks, picture freaks, this has become our faith. Thanks to our obsession with social media, the labor market is blessed with a veritable cornucopia of genuine intellectual vegetables. Social media are great tools with limitless possibilities and opportunities but we use them for trivial things. It is good to be interconnected but we should also be intellectually connected. We should get serious because if we are what is left of Nigeria she doesn’t stand a chance.
Lastly, we need to take a step back and regain our faith, retrace our step back to God. Religious institutions should not lose sight and deviate into the world. Change begins with you but are you willing to change? It starts from our domestic setups. Parents, train your children in the right way. We all have what it takes to make this nation great all we need to do is to channel our gifts and potentials positively towards developing Nigeria. We have a long way to go but with our priorities straight we stand a chance to get there. Youths be impactful, parents be role models, leaders be humble, honest, accountable and most importantly, have some shame.
OGUN EMMANUEL OLUSAYO
Emmanuel is a Proflic writer and Political Analyst. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and International Studies from Bowen University.
He is the Essay Editor of Core Magazine.