Culture of silence
The pen is the tongue of the hand, the silent utterer of words for the eyes…Henry Beecher
Some ago I listed 13 issues that were likely to spell the death knell of Nigeria and I remember listing criminal silence on the part of Nigerians as number 1. I have critically examined the factors that had kept Nigeria on her knees for this long and I have concluded that the timidity of our people, the fear in raising a voice in the face of severest oppression and deprivation and the loss of self-esteem ranked the highest in the scale of culprits.
Sadly enough it had not always been so. In the pre-colonial days we had great warriors of note and empire leaders who were ready to lay down their lives in the defence of what they held dear. There were citizens who were very bold, fearless and articulate and were prepared to dare and challenge any tendency towards absolutism, autocracy or untoward tyranny. In those days no leader would dare steal what belonged to the people. Any leader whether a monarch or priest or even warrior that overstepped his or her bounds would be shown the way to the death chamber. In Yoruba land no king or queen would dare go against the wishes of his or her people or for that matter act contrarily to the established norms. The punishment was certain death!
Great men and women of distinguished valour were too many to be listed in a three-page essay. But they existed and history has continued to do justice to their memory.
Nowadays people simply keep quiet and you wonder whether the cruel padlocks used on our forefathers who got carted away as slaves were reserved for them. So many things have gone wrong with the polity, and these precursors of the calamity that has now virtually fallen on our heads have always been with us.
With our eyes wide open we allowed unchallenged the various bogus population censuses that were allowed to pass. With our eyes open, we watched in damned helplessness like zombies the crass award of lopsided legislative seats to a section of the country which would allow perpetual imbalance and master-slave relationship in the land. We allowed creation of many unviable states and crazy number of local governments by the Unitary Military Government at the centre.
With our eyes open we allowed the so-called federal character and quota system jargons to define national participation in the affairs of the land and we allowed instead the jettisoning of merit and fairness.
With our eyes open we allowed the worst insidious design that was meant to cripple education advancement. That criminal strategy is called JAMB. JAMB to me has always meant JAMBAFORITI, the pinnacle of academic treachery. However brilliant you may be, JAMB has a built-in mechanism to make you look like a fool. In our time once you secured good grades at the West African School Certificate level, or the Cambridge University Higher School Certificate or the Ordinary or Advanced Levels of London University General Certificate in Education you were right there at the university gate. Mothers were not required to expose the colour of their underwear to any lecturer or any vice chancellor or their fronts!
So many young Nigerians have been sent to their early graves by the wicked antics of JAMB. And JAMB for all you may care was designed to slow down the educational advancement of some sections of the country called Nigeria.
With our eyes wide open we allowed the stationing of the entire national armoury in a section of the country. All sensitive Defence, Intelligence, Security, Immigration, Customs and the Ports strategic leadership positions are held by a cabal. And some idiots will tell you that you should not talk about the anomaly or raise questions because of a so-called national security. Security for whom? For the oppressor so that he can continue with his antics forever?
With our eyes open we allowed a persistent decline of a federation into the abyss of unitary totalitarianism. And we all kept quiet in a culture of criminal silence.
With our eyes open all the major resources of the country were forcibly taken from their owners, put in the hands of a cabal at the centre only to be shared in a most inequitable basis to all the supposedly federating units of the polity. Nigeria is the only land space in the world where natural owners of God-given resources are not allowed to determine what to do with their resources. Texas in the U.S., Alberta in Canada are in charge of their oil. Those states only yield a percentage of their earnings to the government at the centre.
With our eyes open we allowed the culture of indolence, easy money and lack of competition to become our national anthem. The money from oil became nobody’s property. And because it was always there in large quantum, all sorts of rogues and vultures emerged in the centre to ride the country roughshod.
With our eyes wide open we allowed rogues, ruffians and charlatans to dictate how our lives would be run and governed. Thieves of various shades and sizes seized our common patrimony and we applauded them in mosques and churches even as they non-challantly rape all of us with unprecedented impunity.
The culture of silence found mother and father in doctrines that teach people to turn their left cheek if and when they are slapped on the right. Or worse still a doctrine that teaches people not to worry about making success of their lives on earth but should be content with an imaginary mansion in a place called heaven! Paradoxically, the owners and preachers of the doctrines are busy amassing wealth here on earth and robbing their flock silly.
Ask an average Nigerian [is there anybody so-called?] he or she will tell you his or her religion has taught him or her to keep quiet in the face of persecution, deprivation and oppression, because he or she is sure to inherit the earth!!!
The culture of silence is about to kill this place called Nigeria. And unless people wake up to their responsibilities and ask pungent questions, the so-called poor masses shall continue to suffer in silence until, like the deaf and dumb erupt like an angry volcano.
It is not yet too late. But time is not on our side. Those who have ears should listen to the few who have refused to submit to the culture of criminal silence.
People should stop grumbling in beer parlours and at their clubs. The time to speak up and be counted is NOW. Enough of this Made-In-Nigeria Internal Colonialism!