An average Nigerian is familiar with the term “National Cake”, the phrase has become so common that one might think it is a globally recognized idiom, but alas it is not; it is only celebrated in Nigeria. The national cake can be defined in so many ways. One simple definition of the national cake is that it is a benefit of any form that automatically accrues to any Nigerian citizen.
Recently the term national cake has been trending online due to a short song coined by one Maxee whose lyrics described breakup (failed relationship) as a national cake which every lovebird must partake from at one time or the other. On a light note this presents us with two tastes of national cake; one is loved and fought for while the other is dreaded.
Today we will be talking about the loved national cake which every citizen hopes to get from his or her country. Hopefully we will come to the other cake next week being valentine week to compliment the day.
People often see the loved national cake from the viewpoint of financial gifts from any government in power either directly or through its agencies and representatives. That’s why there are numerous loan applications albeit with no intent to pay. That’s why the fight for contracts is a dirty war and even the execution of contracts is only on paper. That’s why elections are ‘do or die’ affairs.
The mad rush for our national cake is always justified by those who believe and are ready to support their claims with evidence that partaking from the national cake does not come to citizens automatically as expected, at least in Nigeria, but that one has to fight for it through any means possible. The famous quote of John F. Kennedy, former president of US “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” does not hold true in Nigeria because of the widespread distrust between the people and the government.
In the ethical sense, national cake is supposed to be a holistic issue that transcends financial or material gains. It should be those rights which every citizen enjoys without the interplay of politics. National cake should include security for everyone, whether in the village or city, it should mean an impartial justice system; where the rule of law is blind and strong.
But contrary to expectations, the national cake has become a Christmas gift or like making a wish from a shooting star. There should be nothing special about the cake, all we desire is that it be ‘tasty and healthy’. Why should students at this stage of civilization be overly happy when the education system is functioning optimally and they are able to complete their education without usual epileptic strikes?
The truth is that there is no cake in Nigeria because the oven is not functional or it is either overcrowded or undercrowded. At best what we have is a dilapidated system which cannot bake and distribute efficiently national resources. What we have is a system where we struggle and the lucky ones get a chance into the national food store and end up as private owners of humongous ingredients that should have serve a large number of people.
It is even more pathetic that it seems nothing can be done such that even those who come to the kitchen with pure intentions are helpless. So the kitchen is poisoned. But should we totally abandon the production and distribution of resources because of a poisoned kitchen? Should we avoid politics altogether or leadership positions? The answer to these questions is definitely no.
The solution goes beyond the usual blame on government or state administration; the solution is a change of mindset by all and sundry, everyone must know that irrespective of their official position in society, their actions matter in the final analysis.
We may not be able to ensure that there is an almost equal distribution of communal or national benefits among members of a country irrespective of social, political or economic class, but at least the basic requirements for a good life should be spread across board by the government machinery and the people alike.