By Churchill Nkonkwo
The Nigerian problem is like Lagos traffic: long, complex, and ugly. I have been attempting to solve the complex equation – Nigeria, and have succeeded in decomposing the variables into real and imaginary parts. One imaginary yet powerful variable is the ethno-religious divide the political elites have always sought to manipulate. The real components include bad leadership and corruption with impunity, especially in the judiciary. The Nigerian problem is compounded by an electorate that is politically impotent.
After eighteen years of uninterrupted democratic governance in Nigeria, we are still held down by visionless leadership, corruption, nepotism, and a beclouded sense of ethnic nationalism. We are now moving with our heads in a whirl of doubt, cynical bitterness and resignation.
Some Nigerians blow their trumpets on how the EFCC is pulling out the beard of the tiger in the fight against corruption and how that has deterred serving governors and elected public officials from embezzlement and mismanagement.
Give me a break.
Who have they convicted? Saraki? Metu? Dasuki? Uzo Kalu? Tinubu? Amaechi? Sule Lamido? Nyako? No one of significant political importance. How, then, can you deter the present set of looters?
There is a limit to the freedom to mock. Look at the politicians looting and filling their cupboards full of cobwebs, cobwebs we hope will one day turn to handcuffs. We forgot that life does not always imitate art. With chronically corrupt judges on their side, they always walk free or “arrange” an infinite adjournment of their trial on flimsy excuses. What motivates them to act with impunity?
Look at the cronyism that characterized recruitment at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Look at the DSS that openly conducted a lopsided recruitment notwithstanding the Federal Character nonsense, and all we could do was whine on social media and then go to sleep. Look at the senators that arrogated to themselves the exclusive “rights” to determine who should be recalled by the electorate while we impotently watch. Crude people magically gifted with unchallenged powers, and interplay of darkness and shadow.
We impotently watched as the political Ogbanjes, with their psychic powers metamorphosed to the wicked level of remaining relevant without dying. Those who died politically have consistently managed to re-enter their mother’s womb over and over again. When mother’s womb appears to be ‘temporarily unavailable’ for a comeback, the Ogbanjes have chosen the nearest available ‘political network’ – APC or PDP – to put their calls through. And guess who picked their call at the other end? We, impotent Nigerians, unable to distinguish the cry of a knotted animal from that of a pregnant woman giving birth.
We went to sleep as the government stopped funding our public schools. So, we all watched the educational sector collapse. Scholars that went abroad for graduate studies refused to come back and political office holders started sending their kids abroad. Soon, the rich and even the middle class followed and somebody somewhere figured out that private schools are the solution.
We gave license to corrupt politicians that care little about the underprivileged in the society that education has now turned into luxury in Nigeria. Yet, we appear impotent in demanding for quality education as the system continues to churn out graduates that cannot read nor write.
As the system is collapsing, some of us quickly deserted motherland, crossing the high seas to the “promised land”. Leaving behind rottenness and ugliness. From there, we picked up our pen and criticize. Throwing bundles of incomprehensible bashing. Literary dysentery?
We sold NEPA or whatever they called it before handing it over to incompetent cronies for pennies. We can’t even refine our crude oil and have resorted to importation. Yet, we refused to sell that old and fast dilapidating refineries. Where do we think we are going? We all saw what happened to NITEl, yet, we appear incapable of learning a simple lesson.
There are dirt and potholes on the streets. But I am not sure that we can see it now, or is it we are now used to it? Our leaders keep on living as if they won’t one day die. At night, a strong wind sprang up, driving clouds and rain away, worn out with emotions and fatigue from wasting time and money on social media punching ourselves in the nose, everybody slept. But we could not sleep soundly. How could we?
I love Nigeria with all my strength, although not much is left. I am against corruption, maladministration and what we have here is total confusion. The truth about Nigeria is that most of us have not cared to rise up and truly challenge the corrupt political class without resorting to ethnic and religious bigotry. Poised on the brink of infighting and disintegration, we are now all disillusioned, yet, incapable of uniting in our disappointment.
We all want leaders that will deliver dividends of democracy to the people. Do we want to achieve this desperately enough? Has our actions and response towards electoral process and governance in Nigeria reflected this? Have we shown enough exuberance that we are known for?
Where is our potency? What happened to the spirit of the generation that brought independence to the nation? Where are the resolve and determination?
Yesterday, I tried to kill myself. I can’t blame myself. How could I? I can’t understand how I could wake up morning after morning with the complete feeling of helplessness, of hopelessness and dread. My stomach is getting queasy, sometimes there are pain and tears seems the most natural response, but I refused to cry. Yet, tears shimmered in my eyes, but I will not let them flow. Something is rotten here. Is democracy, our worst nightmare? For the rest of my day, there will be despair and silent tears.
One day, just one day, our faint cries for help from God you don’t believe in will filter through this present total-internal disarray, knock us back to our senses and restore our manhood. Maybe then we will start demanding accountability, stop celebrating mediocrity, stop championing hypocrisy and rise up to the challenges of nation building, together.
Until then, we are all impotent.