Nigeria: We are doomed

The future looks bleak for Nigeria. I am not a soothsayer and need not be one to be able to foresee and predict a bleak future for Nigeria. Most people would want to be optimistic and urge others to remain hopeful of a better Nigeria. I was once in that train until it recently dawned on me that hoping for a better Nigeria is a delusion.

Who wouldn’t agree that Nigeria has become a laughing stock in the comity of nations? Recent events in the country clearly reveal that the country is in the throes of death. Strife here, discord there, killings everywhere. Nigeria has become a grave yard for her children. To worsen the situation, the present government has not helped matters through its criminal silence. As a matter of fact, the Buhari-led administration seems incompetent to arrest the drift into anarchy and assure Nigerians that there is a tomorrow for the country.

However, it is worthy to note that Nigeria’s woes did not start today – with the present government. Governments have come and gone with each new administration exacerbating the pain caused by the previous administration. Thus, it has been a case of a vicious cycle of hardship, suffering and hunger.

In 1985, the year Nigeria marked the silver jubilee of her independence, Sunny Okosun, the late leader of the Ozzidi band released a song titled “Which way Nigeria?” The song was a lamentation of the realities of the time. As inherent in the chorus of the music, the late musician wanted to know “which way Nigeria is heading to.”

“Many years after independence we still find it hard to start. How long shall we be patient before we reach the Promised Land? Let’s save Nigeria so Nigeria won’t die,” Okosun sang. The chorus goes: “Which way Nigeria? Which way to go? I love my fatherland, and I want to know which way Nigeria is heading to!”

Also, in 2004, Eedris Abdulkareem sang “Jaga Jaga”, a Yoruba term for shambles, declaiming the alarming rate of corruption and suffering in Nigeria. He lyrically noted, “Nigeria jaga jaga. Eveverything scatter scatter, poor man dey suffer, suffer….” The song was banned from radio and TV stations by the then Head of State, President Olusegun Obasanjo who saw it as a felony.

Furthermore, African China passed a similar message in 2006 in a track titled “Mr. President.” He sang: “Food no dey, brother transportation no dey and our road no good o, what about NEPA people oooo we no get light. Make una lead us well, no let this nation to fall inside well. Mr President!”.

All these points to one conclusion: that the country is terribly sick and that this sickness did not start today. Today, the circumstances that necessitated Okosun’s, Eedris’ and African China’s songs have only grown worse.

We are living witnesses to the despondency and hopelessness that pervades the country. Bribery and corruption are rife. Nepotism, ethnic jingoism, social injustice and inequality are the order of the day. Youth unemployment is on the rise, just as there is massive retrenchment of workers, with its attendant rise in crime rate.

Economically, it is the paradox of want in the midst of plenty, abject poverty dwelling side by side with stupendous, ostentatious wealth. Our political parties have become toothless aggregation of power mongers, who have no ideology in common but just the will to grab power for self aggrandisement.

Nigeria is in a situation that could best be described as a state in disarray. And as a result, the country is being dragged into a hole of economic mess. Failure to heed the advice of African China, our leaders have allowed our country to “fall inside well.”

The situation in Nigeria today is pitiable. It is a catalogue of woes, unmet expectations, dashed hopes and aspirations, and worse. There’s no progress; rather, we are worse off. I wonder how Okosun would feel in his grave, knowing that the question he posed to all Nigerians, particularly the leaders, is yet to be answered. Surely, he would feel disappointed knowing that the cause he stood for and the injustice and oppression he fought against in Nigeria still persist.

According to Chinua Achebe, the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. Before elections, they will promise to take millions out of poverty, only to plunge millions into it when voted; thereby crowning the country as the world capital of poverty.

My heart bleeds for Nigeria. A country richly blessed with natural resources but whose destiny has been frittered away on the altar of expediency. A country with the awesome potential for the renaissance of Africa but wasted on the heap of corruption.

Surely, we do not need a soothsayer to tell us that things have fallen apart in Nigeria and the center can no longer hold. Not even the most committed advocate of a better Nigeria can wish away the thick clouds of doom hovering over the country now.

At this stage of our disintegration as a country, only false prophets organize endless spiritual trade fairs called revivals and/or crusades to “pray for the nation.” Deceiving the masses that our ailing economy can be cured by prayers is nothing short of a symptom of acute schizophrenia.

You may call me a prophet of doom but I wouldn’t stop shouting it from the rooftop that Nigeria has been slain in Aso Rock by charlatans! The earlier we realize that our beloved country is on a perilous path the better. And my answer to Okosun’s question “Which way Nigeria?” would be “To your tents, Oh Nigeria!”

Ezinwanne Onwuka, Cross River State







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