In Dreams Lies Responsibility: On Nigeria at 54 by John Anusie
We gather once again at a feast of memories. All about us, of course, are broken dreams, and it is understandable why many would dismiss this feast of memories as unworthy even of a minute’s contemplation.
But there’s no avoiding this feast. Nigeria is 54 years today, and the memories of the journey so far cling inextricably to the soul. You seek to avoid them at the cost of insufferable weariness.
When the journey began, when the British gave us independence on October 1, 1960, the flags of hope and expectation flew in the public square, large and proud and stubborn. Optimism, the last nurse of mankind, held the hands of the country and its citizen. It would be a great journey, everyone was certain of that.
Unfortunately we slept – some would say we set forth at midnight – and we lost our way. Brothers became strangers, chieftains of patches, masters of sliding doors. The common good was forgotten. Distrust and suspicion took to the streets and began a mass baptism; the determination to hoist the country on the horse of economic growth and development, nursed collectively and fulgent at the outset, disappeared in the mud of ethnic and regional tiffs and waned and died miserably; the daemons of cupidity and larcenous acquisition, the dybbuks of ostentatious preening, quiet and never audacious, lunged with a violent force and took the nation hostage.
Now Nigeria and everything Nigerian provoke contemptuous cackles and distrust. Foreign embassies, once welcoming, gracious with visas and generous with wishes of the peace of Frothi to the intending traveler, are now the towers of rejection, stout and stubborn – the hub of tired Nigerians. Nigerians go there mostly to sleep and swear and fight. And the visa eludes them.
The visa, where it is forthcoming, mints a new headache, the possibility of another dip in degradation – racial profiling. Being a Nigerian, you carry automatic tags: 419ner, crook, potential drug peddler, guttersnipe of a failed state…What you call your passport is in fact the leaf of your disgrace. The result, expectedly, has been a near anarchic rush to jettison Nigerian citizenship.
In this quest, unfortunately, the average Nigerian is seldom lucky. He has neither the talent nor the mental capital that most foreign countries persistently seek; he contends with the curse of average, the curse of mediocrity. Unable to jettison his citizenship and unable to flee, he finds a splendid hobby in loud and violent criticism of the country. Nothing makes sense to hum.
His major outlet is of course social media, where the risk is highest, the risk of infecting others with his frustration. He flings the bones of his frustration on every thread and in no time he earns a massive following. He sees something wrong in everything. If something should go wrong anywhere, he would blame it immediately on the government. He is a prisoner of the past, quick to remind you of how “they” promised free education for all by the year 2000, how they promised this and how they promised that.
He would declaim the failings of the political class, dismiss them as old and ineffectual, and give a billion and one reasons why they must relinquish power to the youth. And then he would go to sleep, destitute of any interest in the job of the supposedly old men, or just too ordinary and indolent to make any impact. That is the reality.
Nigeria is 54 today, and it is just another excuse for this class of Nigerians to be loud and unreasonable, to spit on the letters of introspection, to imprecate the country. In their actions they should of course expect a poverty of sympathy.
Although we contend with a morbid reality, the reality that Nigeria at 54 is still a kid, it is indefensible and just plain absurd to criticize and denounce the country and do nothing about the problems that make other nations dip her in opprobrium: Indeed, criticism itself is not bad; but criticism without positive action demeans the intelligence of the critic.
As we reminisce on the journey so far, as we face this feast of memories, it is important we realize that Nigeria, though plagued by problems, can still overcome, can still discard the garments of her disgrace, and walk once again in cerise robes. The responsibility to make this happen is a shared one – the government’s and the citizens’.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org