The phrase Fellow Nigerians evokes a feeling of angst among Nigerians whenever it occurs. This is because it recalls the rehearsed mantra of the military each time they dislocate a democratic process or even an existing military junta. The outcome is always the same: a misnamed corrective regime that goes on to usher in an era of sadism and dissolute pillaging of our patrimony. My usage of the phrase is different. It is primarily to draw the attention of all well-meaning Nigerians and to congratulate them, fellow victims of exploitation and economic despoliation, on entering a New Year. I am not about to indulge in mindless euphemism; therefore let us do away with all manner of nauseating parody, stale and sterile litanies in order to unveil the stark, naked truth of our existence in this country.
There is excruciating poverty in the land, penury and peonage are on a permanent visit in various homes and there is no indication they will exit soon. To be clear, this is not the best of times to be a Nigerian. It is indeed difficult to fathom how Nigerians have been able to survive the kind of socio-economic onslaught waged against them by the present power protocol. Left, right and centre, we are daily assaulted by unmitigated vagaries which totally negate the social contract we enacted during the elections in 2015. As the torrents of hardship daily eviscerate us, we have managed to stay alive but with a greater percentage languishing in benighted conditions lower than squalid. In spite of all the soul-wrenching conditions we have serially been exposed to in the last years, in spite of all the institutionalised social malaise bequeathed to us by invidious leadership at all levels, we still find it in our hearts to be happy or pretend to be so, to fraternize with friends and colleagues bonded together by a subliminal grief of a malignant social order. In spite of excruciating pain in our hearts, we manage to put up a smiling face in pretence that all is well even when we know very well that all is not well. Our hearts are daily disembowelled by a gripping fear for tomorrow as uncertainties assail our souls. In spite of daring negativities that confront us on a daily basis, laughter still graces our faces in a conceited show of wellness. However, a time comes in the life of a people when they arise and say no to all manner of socio-economic injustice and take their destiny in their hands. That time, fellow Nigerians is now, not even in 2019.
The political indicator which leaves us with two options in 2019 between APC and PDP is an unenviable choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. The two political parties, separated by nomenclature but conjoined in ideology and inclinations, expend all their base energies blaming each other for all the woes in Nigeria. In doing so, blame becomes a tedious and monotonous discourse which fails to offer solutions to the ailing polity. We have seen the PDP and APC in all their inadequate and handicapped potential, therefore we must take a decision. Having survived sixteen years of organised banditry by PDP, there has been no guarantee that life will be kind to us under the current APC circus. Therefore the greatest disservice we will do to ourselves and unborn generations is to succumb to lethargy leaving our destiny to chance and uncertainties. Many families find it difficult to feed, many people embrace suicide as an answer to pain inflicted on them by the subsisting machinery of governance. Many families just had their worst Christmas celebration in many years. In the face of acute shortage of fuel and electricity, Nigerians are face to face with pre-2015 foretold disaster of a Delphic proportion.
Today, heavy sums of money disappear or are not accounted for as the exchequer continues to be burgled in vile defiance of the populace. Our collective intelligence was recently called to question when the Federal Government said it would set aside a whopping $1 billion dollars to fight Boko Haram which we were told had been technically defeated. In an attempt to do damage control, the Vice President quickly declared that the amount was not only for fighting Boko Haram but also for other matters which are not immediately discernible. I am sure 2019 election is not one of them. It is both ridiculous and laughable. We have entered into a new year, smiling and suffering. Schools have resumed. I do not know how many parents have been able to pay their children’s school fees. People are losing their jobs on daily basis, companies are folding up, and many people can’t pay their house rents or afford other basic necessities. However, we continue to suffer and smile believing that God in his infinite mercy will deliver us. As I wrote in an earlier piece, let us not continue to inundate the spiritual highway with problems we are well capable of solving.
The time has come for us to take our future in our hands because if we don’t do so, we will all perish in this country while the gladiators in government and their cronies will toast our annihilation under the spreading chestnut tree of common treachery. The glaring tragedy of a nightmarish dimension is the activities of Fulani herdsmen who are killing hapless Nigerians on a daily basis. The horror of the century took place in Benue State where innocent villagers were gruesomely murdered by Fulani herdsmen wielding sophisticated AK 49 automatic rifles. How they get access to such weaponry will require an inquest. The question to ask is, why are the Fulani herdsmen so powerful, who are their patrons and why is the government of the day slow in reacting the way it reacted against the activities of IPOB? In earlier times, herdsmen used bows and arrows to ward off wild animals from attacking their cattle, but these days they use sophisticated hardware, ready to exterminate Nigerians in cold blood. Indeed it will be very difficult to argue that Franz Fanon didn’t have Nigerians in mind when he wrote his famous novel The Wretched of the Earth. We have become the wretched of the earth in our country. But there is a way out.
Fellow Nigerians, it is clear to sheep and goat, to mortar and pestle and even to the ground upon which we all stand that PDP and APC have failed us. Let us therefore collectively reject them in 2019 and give room to a more progressive and dynamic political party. Let us encourage a man or woman who is eminently educated and understands the nuances of economic growth, a citizen who is willing and courageous to jettison mediocrity, lifting Nigeria out of the present doldrums. Let us join hands in building a symbolic and pragmatic order that will affirm the progress of Nigeria and actualize our potential as one of the greatest countries in the world.
Adiele wrote from Department of English, University of Lagos.
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