By Bayo Fasunwon
Bob Marley told us that every man got the right to decide his own destiny, and Tai Solarin insisted that we can become whatever we choose to be and that no kings, no lords, and no knaves can say nay. Both have concluded that rather than heaping blames on the gods, global politics, or enemies, we are the captains of our fate and the master of our soul. Hence, our experiences are the outcomes of our actions and inactions. We are therefore who we have made ourselves to be. Given that the society comprises of various human beings who make individual decisions, one observes that such decisions ultimately culminate into community and therefore national decisions, behaviours and experiences. Often times, when we castigate a political system, one is indirectly saying that the individual actions of the various persons within the group have behavioural patterns that leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many.
On this note, happy Independence Day celebration to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Nigerians scattered in all nations of the world. Nigeria today is a middle-income country ‘with a low human development index of 0.539, and occupies the 161st position out of 189 countries in the world. The implication is Nigerians are experiencing bad health, lackluster education sector, and low standard of living. Despite the 63 years of existence, it is still regarded as a newly emerging economy, has medium income distribution with a steadily growing Gross Domestic Product that makes her first in Africa and twenty seventh in the world.
Despite these, 71 million Nigerians have been reported as being extremely poor (four million of which were pushed into poverty at the first six months of this year). Therefore, nearly 12 percent of the extremely poor people in the world are Nigerians. Nigeria’s death rate had stagnated at around 13.08 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. However, it is quite interesting to note that despite the silent embargo on employment the unemployment rate has dropped from about 33 percent to 4 percent. That may be an indicator of the self reliant and enterprising attitude of Nigerians. Unfortunately too, the rate at which Nigerians, trained professionals are leaving the country in droves is alarming and inimical to our national development in the short run. Shall we speak of kidnaps, banditry, power outages, senseless killings, and hunger? The pages shall be full of angst against our celebrants.
However, how did we get into the miry clay when many of our independence age mates have soared like an eagle and sat in exalted economic positions of global political and economic giants? Well, the answer though plain and unassuming have been sidelined and replaced with the myopic and easy ‘let my people go’ reply that our government over the years have been insensitive, corrupt, shortsighted, dissociated from the people and lack the understanding of the nation’s economy as well as the sufferings of the masses. This resonating tip of the iceberg retorts has birthed many songs, poems, books, movies and newspaper articles. Unfortunately, when the critics who produced many of this ‘highly revealing’ work of art find themselves in the saddle of power, they perform worse than their criticized predecessors. So, what exactly is wrong with the nation?
Many Nigerians live their lives on the dictum of ‘every man for himself and God for us all’ we live on the principle of self-responsibility, reliance, and ultimately extinction. Everyone has developed coping strategies to survive the human induced sufferings and get by without caring about what happens to our neighbours. Our self preservation ideology now encourages the traders to willfully increase the price of goods so as to ‘survive’ the fuel subsidy removal; the security personnel open their shops on the highways, and collect tolls to finance their children’s education, university dons embark on promotion researches instead of community development findings; miracle centers are readily to provide enviable results for dullards; while those in power engage in grab and keep to secure a better political and economic future. That is the problem. Our individualistic survival tactics has become the bane of our continual enslavement.
INEC recently cried out that there are several uncollected PVCs in States, where elections are billed to hold this year. Even people who have their PVC, rarely come out to vote. In a nation where close to a 100 million are eligible to vote, winners are decided by paltry eight million votes. The ‘saints’ and knowledgeable in a frenzy of self-abnegation leave the podium of contests to the ‘sinners’ and unlearned, thereby giving them the leeway to lead many astray. When political idiocy and rascality hold sway, every man runs into the protection of his homes, instead of uniting to protest against gluttons who rob and subjugate us. Our political culture is parochial hence, the duty of demanding governance, bestowed on us by our citizenship, is left in chains in the valley of despondency. However, #EndSars and movement for justice for Mohbad should have taught us, that when the people converge and demand for a rightful change, government listens and negotiates. So, when shall we collectively rise up against overbilling, light outages, insecurity and other avoidable lapses of government?
NLC is planning to embark on strike so that the nation’s workforce would not suffer drains, and workers begin dying at their work posts due to many government induced pains; but many for whom the body are fighting for are fighting their deliverers. Many would not support a strike because it would hinder the flow of the ‘crumbs of bread’ and the ‘spoils of office’ that sustain them. Those who Lord it over us treat us as dogs because they know that we love the bones more than the meat that can make us grow.
Fellow Nigerians, Nigeria is our collective responsibility. We all should work together to condemn unwholesome practices and officers; vehemently oppose the suppression of our voices, and contribute in our commerce and industry to the greatness of this nation. A rich man in the midst of the poor is a poor man. As long as we want to individualize our development and survival, Nigeria would keep rotating on the turbulent sea. It is high time we began to make demands on government at all levels, insist on good governance, recall selfish public office holders, and join hands to condemn the bad and uphold the evil amongst us. Pulling both material and immaterial resources together for the good of this nation is a panacea to the backwardness of the nation. We need to understand that a close knitted community understands that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. We cannot fight the oppression in the land by being observers. Now, let us collectively take responsibility, and by them demand for Justice. United we stand, and divided we fall. Happy Independence Day celebration, Nigerians.