Celebrating birthdays often comes with mixed feelings – a rush of happiness for the additional year and a moment of truth where you analyse your achievements so far in life to know if you’ve made considerable progress or not and to identify areas of improvement. As Nigeria adds one year today, some of us are angry, pained and disappointed with our current situation at 55. To say that we do not have any problems in Nigeria will mean living in denial; we have pressing issues in different sectors of the economy of which power seems to have accrued a larger portion followed by corruption, unemployment, education, health infrastructure and development.
It has been 29 years since the Nigerian government promised constant power supply. In the usual context of promises, 29 years is far too long & even the most patient person would have given up. Nigerians are spending billions of naira every year to generate power to use in their homes and offices due to the epileptic power supply. Another cankerworm eating up the economy is the devaluation of the Naira; the value of our currency has greatly depreciated and cannot compete with other currencies in the money market. Our education sector can hardly boast of producing students that can compete internationally; teachers in government and public schools are not well paid, so how do we expect them to operate at their full potential when they are not taken care of? It is this poor system that has caused many parents to do two jobs, spend extra hours at work and have sleepless nights so they can send their children to expensive private schools or abroad for quality education. Asking my dad to rest sometimes is like asking the heart to stop pumping blood to the rest of the body; no breaks, no vacations and no public holidays. Our school libraries are not adequately furnished, the school buildings are not conducive for the students – leaking roofs falling apart, cracked walls and broken chairs/desks have become the current state of government/public schools. The higher institutions and the issue of strikes are causing the youth to stay in school longer than expected. Furthermore, the school curriculums are merely theories and do not necessarily prepare the students for work after school. You find individuals with a first class degree seriously struggling to cope in the office environment; we are taught how to pass exams instead of passing on knowledge which will be utilised for optimum performance in the desired career field. When bombs and explosions are spoken of, I would never have envisaged Nigeria as a country where such mass destruction is experienced. People in the northern states are terrified and live in fear, the state of unrest has become unbearable, death tolls are on the rise, Chibok girls are still missing; everyone is looking up to our leaders to do something but it seems all attempts to curb the bombings have been futile. These are some of the problems that we are angry about; our leaders have always raised our hopes by painting beautiful pictures of their development plans and strategies on how to change Nigeria into a nation of true democracy and economic prosperity. Even as individuals, we often struggle to keep our promises to one another not because we deliberately choose not to, but sometimes it could be due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control.
We need to stop focusing on our problems and channel this vexation into making Naija a better place. John .F. Kennedy (35th USA president) once said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you; instead ask what you can do for your country.” Should we give up on our country because our leaders failed to deliver on their promises? Certainly not, because there is hope for Nigeria; more so because Nigerians are strong people who don’t give up. It is often said that if you go to any part of the world and do not find a Nigerian; then you should run because if a Nigerian cannot survive there, the place is inhabitable. This portrays strength and adaptability – we are happy people who find every reason to smile even in the face of adversity. For example, Bovi, Seyi Law, Akpororo and other comedians will still find a way to crack your ribs; even on social media (Instagram), @onlyinnigeria will make you laugh all the pain away. How can I forget @theonlychigul, nwanne m nwanyi, this lady will remind you that laughter is a good medicine to the soul. With @falzthebahdguy on your timeline, you will never have the opportunity to frown; in fact any wrinkle that tries to squeeze into your face will receive a “gerara hia” (in Francis Odega’s voice). I appreciate our brothers/sisters in diaspora who still find a way to make us laugh; with @chief_obi, sitting at the top of affairs, nwa afo Igbo cracking us up all the way from United States, how can you remember that the price of garri has increased in the market? Frankly speaking, when dem don vex me for office, I just look for @callmeskitzo and @wowoboyz (another trio based in the states) on Instagram and my day is made. I personally admire @oluwakaponesli a.k.a ‘MAMA TOBI’ – this guy is a soldier in the States, gets posted to Afghanistan, Uganda, and other unsafe locations; he is in the business of defending & saving lives and still finds a way to keep us laughing (while you’re here in Lagos complaining of traffic *covers face*).
We face severe challenges, go through hardship, stay at home years after graduation without employment, witness bribery & corruption in our government, live through darkness subjected by the failed power sector, experience bombings/killings and still come out smiling. How we do it, I can’t explain - but one thing I know is that our resilience and tenacious spirit is commendable; Nigerians are the proof that broken chords still make classic music. We have made considerable progress from our first independence, though not as much as we expected but it is still something to celebrate while we look forward to the change we desire. We may not know the “HOW” for now but we will surely improve and develop; just keep supporting in your own little way and never give up on her. We are a work in progress…better days ahead.
This write-up was published on Bella Naija earlier this month, just thought to re-post it on the blog for those who missed it.