My regrets as a Nigerian
If there ever was a time that this geographical entity that has never been a nation according to our “heroes past”, or a mistake of 1914, may be described as glorious, I must count myself as one of those who lived in this place, right across the geographical entity, at that time! And did I enjoy it, you would ask? Yes, of course! I did so most thoroughly! And I therefore belong to those
“Nigerians” who have also watched the place literally work itself to death, by the very people who wanted to but were actually pretending to themselves that they were leading the country for ANY good at all. And, of course, I say this regrettably.
I do so, because these people were definitely under some influences that did not allow them to even think as any normal person should be able to reason out! How would any normal human person have run Nigeria in the ways that “all our heroes past” had done so? How would anybody think that the people that he is ruling, as other human beings, are no better than goats or such other animals that they can just be doing things so degradingly, disrespectfully and arrogantly in their regard, as they actually did and have continued to try to do? How can they be stealing money and giving themselves post 4-year stint at “government” with such regular humongous financial and other material remunerations than a million other people who had worked in the same place may not earn all put together?
It will perhaps benefit readers of this discussion to know what I was referring to as the glorious days of Nigeria as a mere geographical entity that it has always been. I was born in Nigeria in the golden year of 1950. So, the 1950s and 1960s were surely those years of Nigeria’s glory. The effervescent activities leading to our independence in 1960 were exciting to live through, though anybody with wise minds would be able to see that trouble was surely going to come, by the ways that these “our leaders past” were going! I lived in a house where the father was by then already a primary school headmaster for over 25 years, a missionary catechist who was already in his late middle age as well as a local government councilor in the colonial and immediate post-colonial parliamentary democracy. Councillorships and other legislative elective jobs were not full-time or paid employments but very honoured positions in which you were paid allowances only when you go for such legislative sessions. So, each community elected its “best eleven”; not thugs or such other criminally selected and then “anointed” people to go and do all sorts of “glorious atrocities” in the name of government.
As fortune would have it, I had the privilege (as was common then) to travel and live or at least significantly stay in almost every part of Nigeria – all over Eastern Nigeria, the MidWest, Lagos (colony), the surrounding Western Regional parts of Ikate-Lawanson and Owode in Sango-Ota of Western Nigeria and in Bauchi, Jos and even rural Bara near Gombe of Northern Nigeria. This is to say nothing about educational land and railway travelling all over this country of those years. In Owode, it was most educative to learn that the Dumez Construction Roadside Camp there for the construction of the Lagos Idi-Iroko Road was an acre piece of land, carved out of a private kolanut plantation. The opposite side of that road was a private cocoa plantation. The farmer owners of these farms lived in that village, as very many others.
They were well to do from their agricultural endeavours and did not have to go anywhere for it. Produce buyers of the Western Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development came to them fortnightly to buy their well-prepared primary products from them with government functioning weighing scales that did not cheat anybody according to the grades of the products that they produced. They paid them their money cash right there at home and they were not afraid of thieves (Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or the many other varieties) coming to steal and murder them at home for those monies. They could send their children to school, the very best schools if they liked. In the East, small scale farmers were setting up their oil palm mills for the palm oil industry and similar industries. In the North, cotton, groundnuts and bean seed was business galore – all just to mention a few.
When we later went to secondary schools in the early 1960s, there were enough excellent schools – government, community, private and mission (Christian, Islamic, etc) owned ones to go to! They had mutual respect and healthy academic and other educational competition for excellence but not for cultism, Yahoo-Yahoo fraud, and all the similar evils of today! When we went to university, you could take entrance to as many as you freely desired to do. I took entrance only to the University of Ibadan; and my first, second and third study choices were medicine, medicine, and medicine. I took the entrance at Enugu, got my result there, came to Molete Ibadan from there and to UI Central Porters Lodge, then to Zik Hall as directed and continued with my training without any father, mother, guardian, elder brother or sister accompanying me or begging anybody for it. There were also many scholarships.
When it got to postgraduate education, it was same. And when it got to my joining work it was same till post postgraduate training employment when the Nigerian decay had made these things no longer things you got on merit. However, the story of this decay will be for another day. For my presaging, training, mentoring and reproducing myself as a professional and academic, I was privileged to learn how to do this both at my local residence in Ibadan as well as by remote control all over Nigeria; for people who never had to come to Ibadan at all. I spent many research leaves as visiting lecturer in universities all in Northern Nigeria. So, I have younger colleagues as close to me from Northern Nigeria as those from Western and Mid-Western Nigeria as well as (even though far less) from Eastern Nigeria.
The lessons of these is that there are very wonderful people from every ethnic nationality in this country; people who had looked forward that the great talents of this country could have been harnessed in very mutually respectful ways so that we can become the world capital of civilization, human progress, health and happiness. Alas, what we now have! The so-called political leaders have led us to this point where we most obviously may no longer survive as any type of nation at all. That is indeed, very sad. So, as a last appeal in these dire circumstances, may we ask all those who truly or mistakenly ever thought that they loved Nigeria, persuade these our political (mis-)leaders that we can at least move gently to decide what to do with her, that will still yield us nationalities that love, relate, respect and cooperate with each other – whether as completely independent nations, as a confederation or as a true federation as we tried to have in 1960 and 1963, but never ever, after that. May God Himself help us to have it so, in peace and mutual respect. Amen.
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