“…the labor of our heroes past shall never be in vain…”
Strong words. Strong promise which unfortunately we have forgotten. Looking at Nigeria as a whole today, our heroes past will shed tears as what is obtainable today was not the vision they had for us for which they risked their lives and freedom to free us from our colonial masters.
The problem of Nigeria started from the very first coup when the military left their constitutional responsibility to take up new responsibilities they were ill-prepared for. They came with the excuse of restoring peace and curtailing corruption and ended up creating further unrest and corruption.
Today, our ‘elected’ leaders in most cases are still tolling the path set by those military henchmen that ran Nigeria like their family business. To them, government is their birthright and solving the problems of the citizens who voted them in is no longer a priority.
Illiteracy and out lack of knowledge and understanding of our civil rights have helped give these corrupt leaders more boost to continue treating Nigerians the way they like and nobody says anything about it. For people we claim we ‘voted’ them into power, the indiscriminate use of sirens and abuse of our rights by using security men to chase us from their way tells a very different story. That, is just a tip of the iceberg and nothing compared to the suffering our ‘elected’ leaders are subjecting Nigerians to.
For a country so well blessed, our heroes past will turn in their graves when they look at how our leaders have succeeded in mis-managing our God given natural resources. Our heroes past will regret fighting for our independence when they see how greed and monetary gains have torn this great nation apart resulting in the unrest we are experiencing in this country today.
For a country so blessed, our leaders should all be ashamed of themselves; but then, they have no shame as long as their pockets and bank accounts are overflowing with their loot. Because we have not fully understood our powers as citizens of this country, that is why government will formulate policies that aren’t obtainable in Nigeria and force it down on us knowing that nothing will happen. Because we do not know our rights, government can afford to give us tit-bits, substandard facilities and rather than demand for standard facilities, we praise them for giving us the worst facilities. Somebody said, whatever is done should be done well.
If government will give me a road that will crumble before two years, then government should not give me the road at all let me understand that government has done nothing rather than trying to fool our intelligence into believing they have done something. As far as I can tell, Nigeria should be the richest and most blessed nation on the face of the planet. Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world endowed with many types of natural resources apart from oil which has become the source of our downfall.
Many of the great nations in the world do not possess a quarter of what we have yet with the little they have, they have turned their economy and people around making them greater than ‘rich’ countries like Nigeria. With what we have, our brothers and sisters will not be scampering away from this country to go and become taxi drivers and waiters in countries Nigeria is clearly richer than. Our sons and daughters run to a country like England which is virtually devoid of natural resources and are turned into slaves in another man’s land when God have given them one of the richest nations in the world as their home.
This is not the vision of our heroes past. Sending our sons and daughters to study abroad when we can afford to give them the best education in Nigeria was not the dream our heroes had. Going abroad at the slightest medical condition when our hospitals could become as good as those in those foreign countries was not what vision great men like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Alhaji Sir Tafawa Balewa had for this great nation.
Today, when a governor coughs, he flies to a hospital in Germany. What about the common Nigerian? Where will he fly to when he coughs? Nigerian doctors and nurses are one of the best in the world but rather than provide them everything they need to be the best in the world, our leaders leave them to ‘manage’ with substandard equipments while they will run off to Germany to receive the best medical attention at the slightest whim.
Some of our leaders may have the best at heart. Some may truly care for the people but surround themselves with hungry praise-singers as advisers and assistants and those people cause them to lose their vision. Many leaders have come with good intentions but when the foundation (advisory) is faulty, the government will fail in its objectives.
This is very obtainable in Nigeria today. A country were adviser will copy economic policies workable in another more organized country and without thoroughly scrutinizing the policy will introduce same to the leader to implement. On more than one occasion this has happened in this country causing untold hardship of the people who are already suffering. As a leader, God has given you a head to reason with and expects you to reason and carry out adequate consultations from people who will tell you the trust for what it is before accepting or rejecting the advise. This however is not obtainable in Nigeria.
Our leaders tell us to be patient. Are they known for patience? Our leaders are the most impatient people and still urge us to be patient while they enjoy all the blessings God gave this nation alone. They tell us to be patient for roads but they do not feel what we feel because they barely use our bad roads. They are busy blowing tax-payers money and our national blessings on jet fuel. They tell us to be patient for electricity while they have their Mikano generators giving them twenty-four hours light at our own expense. The common Nigeria barely manages to eat three meals a day while all their meals are buffets and they still tell us to be patient.
The problems in this country today are the aftermath of greed. Islamic militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery all have roots from the greed of our leaders.
If our leaders were more sincere, we will have uninterrupted power supply in this country which will boost industry and create employment reducing the number of idle youth vulnerable to a life of crime. If our leaders were sincere, they would create job opportunities for the youth, an enabling environment for development and industry but greed have not yet allowed them to do the right things for their people.
Nigeria needs reorientation. The greed of our leaders have sipped down and affected the common citizens of this nation. Somebody asked a question some years ago ‘can you die for Nigeria?’ And I was not surprised to see nobody was ready to die for Nigeria.
John F Kennedy in one of his famous speeches to the American people said ‘…do not look for what America will do for you, look for what you will do for America…’ That is obtainable in a country that understands as honors its debts and obligations to her citizens. Nigeria is yet to understand and honor her debts and obligations to her citizens. Our founding fathers are looking down with shame and regret. Men and women who died for Nigeria, who gave their lives for our freedom and unity weep in their graves. We have failed.
Our leaders must rise up to their responsibilities to us. It is time we realize our rights as citizens of this great nation and demand for it. It is the civic responsibility we owe ourselves and our children.
By Obinna Akuwudike.