by Olabode Emmanuel Olawumi
Probably, we just need to watch our backs by examining what we do as individuals. What do we believe in? What is driving us? Where are we headed?
The journey of this great country called Nigeria since Independence has been a very long and disturbing one. We have crossed and burned several bridges. We have fought many wars and made peace as many times as possible. We have celebrated and mourned. We have experienced a lot of victories and defeats. Our system of government has evolved from colonialism, through military rule, to democracy. While some of us have witnessed economic boom, others have witnessed (if they are not still witnessing) economic depression.
All we have to do is reflect on our population and our vast resources, and then we begin to wonder: ‘Where did we get it wrong?’ or better still ‘Who is to blame?’ Our fathers who were docile and sheepish by submitting themselves to the slave masters? The educated few that fought for our independence? The ‘men’ in uniform who launched coups and counter-coups? The much despised military government that is hated because of its despotic, autocratic and subversive mode of leadership? The man who rejected and annulled the famous and most credible election result so far — the 1993 democratic presidential elections? The individual whose third term plans failed? The democratic government that has refused to be for the people, by the people and to the people? Oh! I got you… Could it be the gods? Is this our destiny as a country?
There are too many questions but very few answers. He who walks in the market place shouldn’t throw stones because; it might just hit one of his own. We can go on and on to blame the leaders for bad leadership, curse the civil servants for corruption and lack of development and progress, Boko Haram and Niger Delta Militants for national insecurity, the political godfather for forcing the wrong candidate down our throats, the judge who is mysteriously kind towards grievous criminals, and vice versa, the ruler who gives amnesty to die-hard crooks. We can go on and on to cast the first stone. Probably, we just need to watch our backs by examining what we do as individuals. What do we believe in? What is driving us? Where are we headed?
That brings me to the ultimate question, ‘Why are we here?’ Why is there so much waste, tears, pain, hatred, anger, hunger, fear, insecurity, corruption, underdevelopment, mediocrity in the land? Once again I ask, ‘Why are we here?’ Why do we suffer in the midst of plenty? Why do we borrow when we can lend and even give? Why do we destroy when we can build? Why do we imitate and destroy when we can create? Why do we spend recklessly when we can spend wisely? Why do we cheat when hard-work still pays? Why do we kill when we can bring to life? I think it all boils down to our thoughts – what we think, what we believe (in). Our thoughts form our actions which in turn shape our destiny.
Excellence can be our core value but it is not! We can promote creativity but we do not! We can initiate a revolution but we don’t know what we are fighting for! We can have the tallest buildings in the world, the best leaders in the world, the best entrepreneurs in the world, the best institutions in the world, the best cities in the world but we don’t see ourselves that way. All we see is average, limitation, obstacles, why we can’t, why we shouldn’t… We only live by the day. Everyone wants to have a bite of the national cake. No one wants to gather the ingredients to bake the national cake. No one wants to bake the cake. Why are we here?
We are here because we do not have a good cause! We are here because we do not love ourselves! We are here because of greed (My family and I)! We are here because we are power and wealth intoxicated! We are here because we lack knowledge which is supposed to give us light and direction! We are here because no one wants to fight for that which is true, just and noble! We are here because we love our comfort zone, we love the norm! We are here because tradition has been the bane to our progress! We are here because our lack of creativity has caused us to be myopic in our views towards the future. We are here because we lack accountability – in leadership, in finance, in religion, in academics! We are here because we look for jobs when we ought to be creating millions of jobs! We are here because we prefer to live in houses we don’t own, ride cars we bought with loans! We are here because poverty has left our wallets for our minds! We are here because we have accepted the wrong ideals and values as what is conventional. We are here because we don’t know where to go from here?
We lost it during the protest against the FG’s removal of fuel subsidy. We could have won if we had stayed a bit longer and fought a bit wiser and harder. Had we gone hungry for more days, closed our shops/companies for more weeks, closed our roads and borders for more months, we might have successfully passed our message across to our rulers – rulers, because we do not have leaders. But, we didn’t, and that is why we are here?
Dele Momodu was in OAU last year to deliver a key note speech during an event organised by the Department of Linguistics and African Languages; a department of which he is an alumnus. After going back and forth like a swinging pendulum , telling us what we already knew – that bad leadership, corruption and the likes are the factors driving us backwards, he could only conclude by asking, ‘Where do we go from here?’.
Who will lead the protest? Who will bell the cat? Who will stand sentinel where the battle is fiercest? When will weboycott lectures, refuse to go to school, go on hunger strikes, cease voting, and declare that no elections will take place until we are sure we have the right people contesting to be leaders in the right places? When will we put everything – I mean everything – on hold because we know the change we want, and fight for that change? The only reason why we are still here is because no one is ready yet – no one is ready to pay the price that comes with taking the bold step.
Yet, I ask again…and again, ‘Why are we (still) here?’
Maybe it’s time!
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.