In order to have a better Nigeria, the one which the younger and the unborn generations would be proud of, the older generation leaders must accept their failure and clean up the mess they’ve put the country into, since 1960 till date.
This was the submission of the wife of the Ondo State governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu in reaction to an article posted online by one Akeju J. Olee about the current state of the nation compared to what it used to be during the early post-independence era.
According to Mrs Akeredolu who also categorises herself into the generation that has failed Nigeria, the country is truly blessed with resources, but full of people whose educational accomplishments have not helped to be proper humans.
Her comments: ” A perfect summary of how a bubbling country Nigeria fell apart before our very eyes. I share your pain being part of that generation that had it so good but watched helplessly as Nigeria went into the gutters.
” However, your hope that we can shine again if only we begin to put on our thinking caps is quite instructive. I totally agree with you that “We have more of a people problem; people who educational accomplishments have not helped to be proper humans”.
” So we the people that messed up should be the ones to clean up the mess with our hands and make Nigeria right again”.
Below is the article written by Akeju which was tagged ‘If Only’.
“I was born in the Lagos Island maternity hospital on a Tuesday, in fact my mother had all five of us at that hospital. Most people had their babies at home (i.e. in Nigeria).
“My parents did their best from their proverbial humble beginnings with nothing but hope in Nigeria. My mother used to tell me stories about her time at the School of Nursing, University College hospital Ibadan in the mid-70s. Free provisions, laundry service and a few other good things. She told me about how some of her mates would travel to London on Friday and be back in class on Monday morning. There was no need for visas and their sponsors were liberal escorts. Nigeria was good as póùn méjì seemed sufficient to buy everything at a time.
“My parents got going and I want to believe Nigeria made it possible. They wanted to travel abroad at a point in the late 70s but their plans never materialized and I don’t think it was because Nigeria had failed them.
“Nigeria became harder and in the 80s, “up NEPA” was a common chant. Military rule didn’t help and I remember the commotion when Gideon Orkar almost got Babaginda. We ended up writing all sorts of secondary school entrance examinations.
“It was almost normal in the late 80s and early 90s to add entrance exams for military schools to the mix; our parents couldn’t afford to put all their ova in one basket.
“June 12 happened and the nation almost imploded. IBB did a leg over and Abacha executed a two footed tackle from behind on Shonekan. I remember a few times that my father practically slept on fuel queues and how we cooked in the open with saw dust.
“It was normal to hear sudden cries of “olè olè” in the neighbourhood and witness the complete dehumanization of captured thieves. I remember one who was given a bottle of coke with cement poured in to drink. We still managed to have parties though, overnight parties was common those days.
“The 90s were not great but we soldiered on. I attended secondary school with the children of politicians, business giants and higher ranked military officers. The University system had become characterized by strike actions and violence. The public school system was nothing to write home about and a greater percentage of students never made it beyond those buildings that lacked teachers. Most of those who are area boys and gangsters today were produced by what had become Nigeria.
“Transportation also became a mess. The first time I used a commercial motorcycle was in 1991 in Agbara; by 1998, bikes had begun to infiltrate most parts of Lagos. Running after or jumping down from moving coaster buses or Molues was a necessary skill to have. I was definitely a pro as a teenager. There was a time when my mum could pack all of us unaccompanied into a yellow cab and give the driver two Naira to take us to school while she rushed to work. It didn’t take long before we started hearing about “gbómogbómo” cases.
“Most people did not expect Abacha to pass away when he did in 1998. Democracy was placed on the table again and we dreamt again of a great nation.
“Abdusalam who still needs to explain exactly what happened to Abiola rolled his thumbs and became a global sensation overnight. He cleaned his mouth and left faster than he appeared. Obasanjo stepped in through the PDP machinery while those who claimed to be Awoist stayed as opposition.
“There was true federalism in 1999 as governors did as they liked and moved for whatever they wanted. Senators began with a 3 million furniture allowance before progressing to other types of allowances. A culture of violence began in many states and Obasanjo promised constant power supply by 2003.
1999-2015 didn’t really see Nigeria retracing her steps. We simply had too many things all over the place and far too many people doing as they pleased. Nigerians trampled on each other and greed became motivation for many. 2015-Now hasn’t been markedly different but there are signs that we are gradually getting back on course even if many insist we are worse.
“Some people have decided to disown the country and a few people have condemned her to eternal doom. One thing I keep telling people is that ‘Nigeria’ does not fail, it is Nigerians who fail. It is Nigerians who looted and allowed external forces to plunder our resources. It is Nigerians who fail to do their jobs but get away with it by stirring up sentiments. It is Nigerians who tell other Nigerians to speak ill of her even when all she’s done for them is good.
“How can I curse Nigeria? I attended a Federal government college where each class had a dedicated English teacher and where three physics teachers taught us every year. How can I when I know that many others did not have such opportunities.
“I got admission into the University because I had a better score than the cut off mark of my course. In my first year, I still got to pay N90 for accommodation. All the fees I paid for 6 years in Ibadan is probably less than what a private University charges for one semester.
“The highest bursary amount I got from my state was N2,000 when some other states especially those that are oil producing were giving their students 20 to 50 times what Ekiti gave me after plenty sweat? Is that enough to curse Nigeria?
“I left Ibadan and went to work at the National hospital Abuja. I got the intern position based on merit as I knew no one. When it was time for national youth service, I told a few people that I was going to Plateau state so when the postings were released, they began to ask me how I ‘worked’ myself to Plateau and I told them I didn’t. I don’t think they believed me. My parents did not train us to ‘work’ such things; my siblings served full-time in Gombe, Kano and Ebonyi.
“I applied for post graduate residency training and got in based on how the process went. More than a few people desired to get in when I did; some got in later and some abandoned the project and went on to other things. Should I also join in condemning the country for the privileges I got?
“Nigeria has suffered many years of plunder and descecration. She will not become radiant overnight. If we compare her to some other places without considering the issues perculiar to us, then we have not done well.
“We have more of a people problem; people who educational accomplishments haven’t helped to be proper humans. People who refuse to read and comprehend but who chose to be accomplices and sidekicks to arsonists.
“It is your right to opine that Nigeria is dead and buried. It is also my right to voice out my hope in Nigeria. It won’t make sense to superimpose your dark painting of Nigeria on another’s canvas depicting Nigeria as a green land. I will continue to ask Nigerians to sign up to be the soldiers, policemen, civil servants and politicians they wish those currently there are. It’s not by shouting revolution and self immolation all over the place.
“I am for a bold people but a people who also think deeply and rationally. If only we could focus on our strengths instead of working hard to widen the suture lines. If only we pursue peace instead of shaking the shekere of war that will only scar forever. If only.
“We were arguably immature when we cut off from British rule but we have enough people, resources and experience to finally get it right. Let today be the day you gain independence from bitterness and whatever vice cripples you from accepting Nigeria.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.