Monday, July 5, 2010

Are Nigerians Unreasonable People?

The story is told of a group of Japanese soldiers on a Southern Pacific island, who were still waiting for the enemy ten years after the end of the Second world war! 

Apparently, these chaps had become separated from the rest of the Japanese army,and they had been forgotten,or given up as lost ,or captured! They did not know when the war ended. 

It took a long time to convince them that they were not been tricked into the hands of the enemy.

For years, they had lived in privation waiting for supplies, and getting by on what they could hunt and grow. Meanwhile, the rest of the world had more than enough, and lived in peace.

Sometimes, when one takes what one believes to be the moral high ground in a matter, for an awfully long time, such a person, tends to be intransigent, unyielding and almost belligerent, in the defense of the said position.

This is what forced me to reevaluate my position on many issues in Nigeria, and how like-minded people also see this country.

I asked myself the silly question, are we unreasonable in our expectations of Nigeria?

Are we asking Nigeria to do what she is incapable of?

Answering this basic,but important, question, would help us chart a proper course for the future.

It would also prevent us from becoming cynical in response to everything that happens in this country.

Someone said a long time ago, that a cynic is a person who when he sees a bouquet of flowers, begins to look for a body; he never expects that the flowers, are for a wedding.

A series of questions, would help us evaluate, and properly situate, our position.

Are we unreasonable in asking that our votes count in every election?

Is it not the normal thing that happens in other parts of the world.? Have they not been holding elections, without making a big deal out of the issue.

Free and fair elections, are the staple fodder of democracies the world over. They are not like the coming of Haley's Comet, which comes twice in three centuries.They are as normal as the sun rising tomorrow. 

Free,and fair elections are not a gift, but an obligatory responsibility of government!

So when we tell our government, give free, and fair elections, we are asking them to be normal.

At the moment, they are not.

I met a commercial motorcyclist some days ago.
He told me a funny, but sad story. 

He had just completed his house a few months ago, and some  officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria,PHCN in his area, met him one day outside his house.

They asked to see the landlord. 
He told them he was the owner of the house.They were shocked, but that is not my story; they informed him that they wanted to connect his building to the power grid!

The poor fellow declined!

He informed them that he had been using the three thousand naira they probably would charge him,for electricity not supplied, to buy petrol for his generator! 
He told them there was hardly any electricity supply anyway, and thanked them.

This man no longer expects electricity from the federal government of Nigeria!

He now generates his own. 

Nigeria today, is probably the only country in the world where more electricity is generated from generators than the government can supply.

Juxtapose this with the sad fact that we flare natural gas in a profligate manner in the Niger Delta Region.This is gas that could have been used to generate electricity. 

Are we unreasonable to expect electricity from the government of this country?

I ask this question because we know that our problem is not the hydro resource, or the natural gas, that we need to generate electricity.These are abundant, and wasted. Our problem is also not geography, other countries in our region, enjoy uninterrupted power supply.

Ours is political will!

The government talks the right talk, but takes the wrong steps, in solving the problem.

Some months ago, I read a sad story.

It was the story of Racheal, the wife of Adinoyi Onukaba Ojo, a journalist of no mean repute, and one time aide to the former Vice President,Atiku Abubakar. 

His wife had been ill.

Her case was misdiagnosed,mismanaged,and muddled up at the National Hospital,Abuja.

This woman died out of sheer negligence!

But, that is still not the whole story.

It is that this fellow, was not your average citizen, the hospital he went to, was not a small hospital. It is supposed to be the last point of reference for any medical case in Nigeria.
Sadly, for many people, the hospital is truly the last point of reference.
They kill people in  that place like Jerkyll and Hyde.

If this could happen to him, think of the unfathomable, and criminal treatment, average Nigerians encounter every day in our hospitals! 

No wonder, people pray, and fast ,before going to the hospital.
They know it is truly passing through the valley of the shadow of death!

Are we unreasonable, in asking that our hospitals ,save lives? 

Should we now go to the hospital only after writing our wills?

I went to a public primary school a few years after the end of the civil war. I remember how we sat on the floor up till primary three! 

So you can imagine my shock, when I saw a school in 2009, with pupils sitting on the floor!

Four decades after the civil war, and we have not moved on from sitting on the floor?

When I was growing up, I remember vividly then, that  I looked forward to the coming of the year 2000!

That was supposed to be the magical year! Health for all, housing for all, water for all! It is now ten years after the year 2000, our services are worse than they were five years after independence!

Am I unreasonable, in asking that when I turn on my tap, clean, healthy, potable water, should flow?

We keep seeing numerous contracts awarded for  projects, but it seems the more the contracts awarded, the less the efficiency delivered!

Need I talk about the roads that kill people, some have cavernous chasms that cause articulated lorries to flip over on their sides, and cars to somersault.

Can I forget the erratic nature of the supply, distribution, and pricing of petroleum products that shame us.

We have taken our love for imported products to bizarre, and atrocious levels.

Government prefers to export our crude first, so that it meets the condition for being a foreign product, then re-import it as refined petroleum products, and tell Nigerians that it is subsidizing it! Like Odewale said in Ola Rotimi's The Gods Are Not To Blame,"there is madness in their liver"

Are Nigerians unreasonable people?   

No  sane Nigerian, would expect the government to build him a house on the Atlantic ocean!

We are not asking for expressways in the sky five miles up!

All we demand, is that our governments intelligently, and judiciously, work with the resources that we know are at their disposal, which are currently being siphoned into private pockets, or wasted!

It is as if our governments at all levels, are "ever learning, and never arriving at the truth". They seem to be allergic to wisdom ,and common sense! 

So let me ask my silly,but relevant question again, are we unreasonable, in asking to live  normal lives?

Like the rest of the world?

That is all we desire!

That is what is just !

No more!

No less!

And as we begin to get it,


1 comment:

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