NIgeria and the Growing Exodus -Tope Oke

Filed under: National Issues |


Some years back, a friend of mine, albeit an egbon, a manager with the country’s apex bank emphatically told me then that the ‘Nigerian project cannot work’. I was quite young then so I couldn’t even relate with his somewhat pessimistic proclamation. Fifteen long years after, we meet again and needless to say he has moved his household abroad while he is here hustling and sending money there. Fifteen long years after, things appear the same.

He is not the only one who feels that way, indeed, loads of people and families, friends inclusive have since relocated abroad, gingered with the firm belief that Nigeria cannot work. It is the seeming trend here now, despite the seeming evolution of the political and economic space, there are deep- rooted, underlying factors that tend to justify their conclusion.

Things just won’t simply work!  Ask any one, core to their reason for their decision to leave is that for generations, the issue of epileptic power supply has become part of the cross you have to carry for living here. Years after, trillions of Naira spent, yet the PHCN still has the nerve to turn the lights off in the hallowed chambers of the national assembly just as our distinguished lawmakers were engaged in their annual deliberation as to how there has been no improvement on the same issue,  which, inevitably leads to the imposing and recurring monster of corruption. That singular act highlighted the level of corruption that supersedes the one that pervades supposedly hallowed places in the country. A type of corruption that is literally hindering Nigeria from reaching her potential. Truth is, there is no single developed nation in the world without stable electricity and despite the resilience of Nigeria and her citizens, it is impossible for Nigeria to attain greatness using generating sets. Curiously, no man is asking the next man how to tackle the government on the issue, rather he is asking the next man how many generators he has, or if he has got inverters as if to say we have tragically accepted our fate.

Talking about corruption in supposedly hallowed places, the rot in the National Assembly and the Judiciary has been fully established over the years, otherwise, the ‘representatives’ of the people will not continue to allocate a humongous slice of the national budget to themselves, despite their outrageous wages and James Ibori would not be a free man after he left office. The Judiciary especially has proven time and again that it is more lenient on those who have the capacity to steal more from Nigeria. How does one live in a country without a voice and no hope of getting justice?

While these arms of government have let down Nigerians, without exonerating the executive, it is the church, another supposedly hallowed place that has been worrisome. During the last elections, a former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria was often seen junketing around with the ex-President, telling Nigerians he was God-sent only for God to send him away. Not too long ago, a former prelate of the Methodist church in Nigeria, described President Obasanjo as ‘’the best leader Nigeria ever had’’ simply because the man arranged devotions every day of the week and built a church in the villa within three months of becoming President, forgetting that this same man arranged and presided over the worst elections in our history. But we shouldn’t really be surprised about the church. It has left its traditional role of leading people to Christ to be at the forefront of this ‘get money syndrome’ ravaging the country as if J. Christ wore his own piece, driving his Bentley in his time.

We live in a country where there is so much tribalism, hatred and bigotry. During the President’s last medical leave, there were people who were not ashamed to air their feelings that they literally wanted the President dead simply because he is from the north or maybe because he just came to intentionally make Nigerians suffer? While the British clearly forced this nomenclature on us, Nigeria became even more divided when General Ironsi fatally decided not to prosecute the coup plotters of 1966. Things have not been the same. The horrific civil war that followed is still a source of bitter acrimony between the North and the East and how the country has managed to be one remains to be seen, so also is Buhari’s fitness for office but why wish him dead? The tragedy in this is that these are the same people who populate the front seats of the scores of churches that dot the landscape.

Eventually, it is a country with no regard for human life. You die here, you die for nothing! Earlier this year, an employee of the Lagos State Government was killed in the cruellest way, in broad daylight. None of the criminals has been apprehended or brought to justice. Each day, we read of fellow citizens murdered or kidnapped and life goes on, the security apparatuses looking helpless in stemming the tide. In 2009, former President Bill Clinton had to travel to North Korea to secure the release of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee and in there, you could see what makes Americans proud of their passport and country; they know their country won’t let them down when it comes to the crunch as Captain Phillip will testify!

Many years after, all grown up and at the risk of exuding pessimism, my egbon and friend is in the mould of a prophet, not as lowly as the numerous false ones we have in Nigeria but not as great as the legendary Fela Kuti. May his soul continue to rest in peace.