Tolu Ogunlesi: Any hope for Nigeria? (YNaija Frontpage)

A ruling elite – largely a bunch of megalomaniacs – who exist in a world of their own, where they feed on the profuse offerings of sycophants, and in return dispense life-transforming favours. A citizenry who, now accustomed to the fact that there is no justice to be expected from the state, have perfected the art of dispensing their own justice, upon whomever is deemed guilty.

This week, the Mubi and Aluu killings. We don’t know how many fell in Mubi. Cut down methodically, bodies scattered across a killing field that was once a school hostel. In Aluu, they were four; four young men savagely beaten, and then set on fire, by a mob wielding, in addition to their bricks and sticks – mobile phones. I watched the tragic video, and allowed the chants of “Die! Die!” by the lynchers to transport me to the hallowed ambience of one of those Nigerian churches where “enemies” deserve violent deaths and deserve it now.

On Sunday afternoon, I found myself watching NTA International, one of the handful of stations you can watch when DSTV sentences you to the E34 prison. There was a birthday thanksgiving service for Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. I watched the clerics, mitres towering into the air, invoking the grace and blessings of God on His Excellency, and His Excellency’s Birthday Cake.

When it ended, NTA started showing Nigeria’s Got Talent.

There were people coming to dance, and play instruments, and crack jokes. I was terribly disappointed to not see those things I’d consider real Nigerian talent on display. What’s a Nigeria’s Got Talent without people transferring copious quantities of petrol from car to car armed with nothing more than a short length of rubber tubing? Without someone starting vehicle engines with light-bulb switches? Without someone managing to sweet-talk a thousand people into buying the same plot of land?

I’d only just settled into the show, when NTAi issued apologies, and cut to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, where the amiable and indefatigable Governor of Kano State was celebrating the airlifting of 501 students of Kano origin to eleven countries, for postgraduate studies, on government scholarships.

Later that night, it was the turn of the Akwa Ibom State Governor to celebrate, on NTAi. This time, the 25th anniversary of the creation of his state. The twenty-six members of the state house of assembly lined up like schoolboys on stage to issue a “vote of confidence” on His Excellency, and present him with a gift. In return he declared them “the best House of Assembly in [Nigeria].”

I stopped watching NTAi soon after, and therefore didn’t get a chance to see if, having treated us to celebrations by a Northern Governor, a South Eastern Governor and a South-South Governor, the station would follow up, in the spirit of federal character, with the South-West.

It’d have been good to see one of our Omoluabi Governors celebrating his wedding anniversary live on TV. To put to shame the useless commenter (named “Essien”, by the way) on Linda Ikeji’s blog, who, in response to the story of a Yoruba doctor who allegedly committed suicide in England after the double life he was leading was exposed, wrote:

“Why is it that Yoruba people’s marriages never last. I have like 8 Yoruba friends and none of their parents are together. It’s either they live in the same Lagos but none of them are seeing each other or one partner is in Europe or America and the other is in Nigeria. They would not divorce…but they will be living separate lives. Why?”

Sum all of the above up, and you get a good sense of where Nigeria stands, fifty-two years after independence:

A ruling elite – largely a bunch of megalomaniacs – who exist in a world of their own, where they feed on the profuse offerings of sycophants, and in return dispense life-transforming favours. A citizenry who, now accustomed to the fact that there is no justice to be expected from the state, have perfected the art of dispensing their own justice, upon whomever is deemed guilty. Religious institutions that have lost the plot, and found a way to feed on the terrors that assail the masses.

Everything points to one thing, which Tolagbe Soleye-Martins captured a year ago in the twitter hashtag: #ThisIsNotACountry.

We are pretending to be what we’re not. We are living a lie. We are an assemblage of peoples, bound by nothing more than a desperation to “make it” (this manifests in an acquisitive instinct that even animals would be ashamed of) and a frustration (at not making it, or watching other people make it).

There is no real state, no real institutions, no mechanisms of accountability and responsibility between the governing and the governed; only a bizarre system that efficiently combines rent-seeking, patronage, cronyism, professional sycophancy, elite-endorsed criminality, hypocrisy and religious fervour.

And we are all of us complicit in this; all both exploiters and victims of the system in some way or the other.

The most important of the many questions that arise from this dysfunctional scenario, is this: do you, deep down within you, think that there is any chance that Nigeria can/will successfully make the all-important leap from being a tenuous assemblage of accountability-free individuals and interest-groups, to being a real nation?

In other words, is there any hope for this country that is not (yet) a country, to become a country?

What do you think?

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (7)

  1. There will be hope for our dear Country Nigeria, if and when we as individuals decide in our own little way to start doing the right thing all the time and encouraging all those around us to do the right thing.Let us start from our own little constituencies and do the right thing.It will be difficult,people will call us all sort of names,but we must persevere and at some point,other will join the bandwagon and we will gradually but steadily get there.

  2. 2015!! The new excuse to look toward, and no sooner will be the camel to be flogged as we discuss what we should have, could have, but didn't!!

    Nigerians are a hopeful and resilient people, filled with religious sentimentalism because it's the only thing we can't explain away, the divine shuts us up and gives us hope when we have nowhere else to turn. That's great, because without it I think we will truly be lost!

    Dare I say 2015 won't change much; we have recycled the same "cabal", "sect", whatever we call them for far too long for anyone utterly new to spring from the bushes, and it's a total shame because we truly have so much more to give!

    The animals in us have finally sprung up; people are taking radical decisions into their hands turning complaints to words, and don't even care anymore if they are heard. Life has lost its value and the fittest survive!

    …I'm truly tired of talking. Still, I do believe there's hope yet, but by all means and for the love of this same God, don't put it in the 2015 polls.

  3. honest opinion,not the normal holier than thou comments from government critics..Nigeria is a product of the masses,because this is where the much insulted leaders come from not from cameroon or space,they come from within us in Nigeria

  4. Off- the cuff write up, truth told, yet @ moderate volume; your question begs careful consideration.

    At the risk of being called a pessimist, I don't think Nigeria can be better a country than we already have. Because

    Just when one thought things could fall no further, they slip from gutter into the sewer. As things change, they remain the same{or even worse}

    No one should be under any rose tinted illusions that mere 'hoping and praying' will change the course of events in Nigeria. Until we address the fundamental issues{indiscipline, ethno-religious crisis, decayed infrastructures, greed……} confronting us a nation, I'm sorry to say, we ain't seen 'nada'. We, both the leaders and followers, need re orientation as a people.

    Having said all these, there's a distinct possibility for a change{the last bastion of hope for me} if we get it right @ the polls come 2015.

    The question is are we ever gonna get it right?

  5. I believe there is HOPE FOR NIGERIA, yea, things have gone bad, I refuse to loose hope on Nigeria

  6. "In other words, is there any hope for this country that is not (yet) a country, to become a country?"

    IMHO, this question is best answered in 2015….depends on whom we elect.

    Beautiful piece by the way.

    1. We cn only dos who r presented to us, n were we stiil gt d same puppets den we r still doomed

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail