Prospects In A Foreign Land -By Barrister Idowu Awopeju

Filed under: Global Issues |

I was at a birthday party of a retired teacher on the 10th of October, 2018. Deliberately, the name of the celebrator, the place, and the venue will be masqueraded in order to save the face of the family. To be candid, if all retired aged teachers are celebrated the way Mama’s day was glamorized with all manners of bespectacled brocade lace and cakes of different sizes, teachers, honestly, would have been the proudest retirees of all professionals in Nigeria.

In attendance were many of the “pupils” she taught as far back as 80,82 and 84 to gladly “dancingly” ushered her into the clique of the nonagenarians with pomp and pageantry befitting of a steadfast steward. While the bash was ongoing, as an honorable gatecrasher, I sat at one corner, sipping and economizing the Campari that was smuggled in for me by an innocent server. To my chagrin, I was beckoned on to come and moderate the cake-cutting. My aloofness, quietness, and faked bourgeoisie and posture might have confused them that I was a VIP guest, who preferred, out of social courtesy, to remain anonymous. Like a big man, I responded, gesticulating with my white handkerchief, “Okay, no problem.”


Barrister Idowu Awopeju

Between my seat and the spot where the task was to be carried out, I quickly processed the creative semantic approach to be deployed. Luckily for me, they had a school anthem to recite, that gave me additional grace, to compose and comport myself. Within three minutes, the mission was accomplished. Pronto! My status, just like that, experienced a meteoric rise, and I left the lonesome corner for an open space where I can legitimately munch and bite.

However, something struck me in the course of the cake-cutting exercise. You will hear lines like these: “I have not been to Nigeria in the last 30 years. Thanks to grandma to have born us in the UK some 50-55 years ago. Let’s leave it at that.”

This brings me to this interrogation, Nigeria as at the time the celebrator was working as a teacher, this country, going by the available records, was not as bad as it is or seemingly is presently. The question that kept agitating my mind and still does is what informed the decision taken by her? Was it borne out of foresight, insight or hindsight or was it a mere divine coincidence? Because, I am arrogantly sure, that travelling abroad then, either to relocate or put to bed, was neither in vogue nor fashionable as it is now that it has become any port in the storm, to the extent that, a dear friend is being manipulated to consider the option of New Zealand, and in the process, corrupting my fragile peace.

Looking inwardly now, a critical juxtaposition of the local and national happenings appears to support what seems like a ruthless and reckless desperation to just take a shot in the dark, and bid this space and place a temporary or permanent farewell as the case may be. In the comfort of my not-too-comfortable privacy, I have tried to articulate the success of this administration, in concrete terms, but to no avail, little wonder that the” Atikulates” are deafening our eardrums. Same of the sameness.

The recent statistics of the number of the pupils that are out of school was the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. My state, sadly, for the umpteenth time, led the ignominious notorious spotlight in Yoruba land. A region that was once synonymous with obsession for formal education is now groping in the dark, and its people live happily in cloud cuckoo land. What a shame!

Any postulation on the fight against corruption is a colossal waste of time. And I am not talking about prosecution without conviction, and the “immunity by proximity” that is pervasive and prevalent, lately, but the overcrowded prisons, and the unease that attend criminal trials of petty thieves and criminals in our courts.

The more you dismiss all the signs of an endless hopelessness, the more it dawns on you that we have sworn to remain either static or progressively retrogressive.

I think it is not too late for me to start preparing for my own 90th birthday. What about you?