How do we explain the serial failures of our rulers, to pass the most basic of leadership tests? Why and how, has it become impossible to secure the lives and properties of our people?
There’s nothing original about the appellation I have employed in my description of our fatherland, anyone familiar with the works of Fela, and his life, would have come across his work that goes by the title. I am a lifelong lover of Fela’s music, I love his music, not only because of his lyrical genius, but because of the fecundity of his thoughts, which are reflected in his themes, and in the communication of his experiences.
Fela’s works may be easily situated in time and context, once the listener takes the time to reflect on the words. “Look & Laff” is a song I have heard innumerable times, and the dominant truth of that song, is that it came from a defiant, but broken spirit. Fela had been serially battered, but the battering didn’t break the man’s indomitable spirit, what broke him, but which he ignored to mention, was the docility of the people themselves, and their refusal to stand up for their rights. Go and listen to “ Sorrow, Tears, And Blood“ that was the precursor to Look And Laff…
Fela sang COP, Country Of Pain, in the later years of his life, and at the height of his own disillusionment with the Nigerian state. The song is a defiant lament of the injustices that have conspired to produce a country built on a system that guarantees only pain, to the ones it has labeled citizens, but who are in reality denied the rights of citizenship.
At the time Fela penned Look And Laff, the country was in the age now known and widely touted, as its golden age. The educational system whilst obviously showing the eggs of today’s vipers, was still functional and by far superior to today’s failure. The hospitals worked, and our healthcare personnel were the toast of Saudis and the west, the roads whilst overstretched, had not become the death traps they are today. Nigeria was not looking at possible state failure, and we were not on the road to today’s Mogadishu.
Country of pain, Fela railed. But the pains he described were personal. Nigeria is today the true country of pain, and the daily existence of the inhabitants, rulers and ruled, is denominated by pain. The rulers appear possessed by a most wicked spirit, and the torment of the people, the sole purpose of governance. At every point of contact with the Nigerian state, be it on the road, hospitals, schools, police, courts, name it, and the living realities of the people are painful.
If you are capable of reasoning, ponder your life as a human being in Nigeria. Whatever you might do for a living, however rich you may be, how well have you avoided the pains of being in a two horse race, and knowing even before the start, that you will come third? How well have you fulfilled your God given potentials, and how has your Nigerian citizenship, served to facilitate, or limit you?
How do we explain the serial failures of our rulers, to pass the most basic of leadership tests? Why and how, has it become impossible to secure the lives and properties of our people? Why are we now in a situation where our soldiers, who have superhuman capacities when dealing with unarmed citizens, are unable to defend themselves, in entrenched positions, against an enemy that has neither AirPower nor an armored corp?
You may continue lying to yourselves, that either the incurably corrupt Etiku, or the corruption besmirched, and integrity challenged saint, are capable of taking Nigeria into the future. But you know in your heart of heart, that our problems are not curable with personnel changes, it is the very foundations of Nigeria that demands that we reimagine Nigeria, and rebuild from the obvious and desirable ruination of the evil system inherited at the birth of the Nigerian state.
Nigeria is a country of pain, and it is so because it is one that does not have citizens. I challenge you to examine the content of what you have come to accept as your Nigerian citizenship, observe how the constitution of Nigeria, has assured that the content varies and is dependent on the origins of your specific humanity, and not our shared rights. The Izon man’s rights changes on the basis of his location in Nigeria, and not his citizenship of a common state, and the fraud has been strengthened by the lies of power shift, and the fraudulent zoning and power sharing arrangements.
The state of origin request before one may qualify for anything, the quota systems, and many more, have conspired to construct walls, and prevent the acquisition of shared and common destinies. Until when our destinies as a people become common and shared, and our rights and obligations to the state same, except in so far as constitutionally prescribed, Nigeria will remain a country of pain.
I am continuing to endure the tedious liefests disguised as debates, even as I have become ever more alarmed by the undeniable evidences of the increased potency of the twin weapons that have been deployed against the people. Weaponized poverty has worked to focus the people solely on survival, and consumed by existential challenges, the ruled have become preys to an increasingly feudalistic system.
But poverty is not the only weapon in the arsenal of our rulers, ignorance is the ultimate weapon that has assured that the people are kept poor. A people have been deliberately undereducated by their rulers, and before any idiot would presume to argue with this obvious truth, ask yourself what happened to the educational system? I am not talking about the universities and colleges, I am asking about the primary schooling system, the secondary schools, our trade and technical schools? Our leaders did not fail by accident, they planned to fail.
If Nigeria is to cease being a country of pain, if our children are to inherit a nation capable of delivering on the promises of God, embedded in our land, if the people are to become a nation, and if that Nigeria is to emerge from the ruins of this dying state, every conscious “citizen” must decouple his or her mind from the asinine belief that the current system is capable of reformation. Begin to imagine the Nigeria that you desire, and do so in the knowledge that the change required must begin with you, if Nigeria shall become the paradise and beacon on the hill.
First published 25 November, 2018.