By FAROUK MARTINS ARESA
One of Nigeria’s dedicated ambassadors was “peppered” with questions about progress or achievements at one of the Ivy League schools in the United States recently. Some of us felt bad for him. He was a revolutionary in college days, and later a radical professor. Can he; dare separate a bulldog’s teeth sunk in a pound of flesh addicted in corruption?
It is a collective task to build a country, not a one man’s show. Each can form a quorum, or make a difference. He struggled to “rebrand” Nigeria and its President’s effort from Boko Haram to daily scandals of another probes set up to probe the probe before. The more he tried to explain actions never taken in Nigeria until Ebele came to power, there came a student that heard all from him a couple of years back, but Nigeria still wallow.
This is why nobody can blame the poor working masses of Nigeria that just go about their daily businesses, never expecting or getting anything from their own Country. There are many Nigerians at home and abroad that decided to tune out from the daily barrage of billions stolen but as soon as some of us tuned out, the fear of missing the latest billions missing, gripped us and we were back to local newsstand or TV.
The only lucrative jobs in town are contracts from politicians and senior civil servants. Their cuts before getting the contract disgorge everything including services, materials and “feferities” pending the next contract. People that wonder why contractors get paid the full amount before completing the contracts may be living in space and not in Nigeria. The greed that consumes our Country also consumes our next generation.
The silver linings in all these are the entrepreneurial spirits of Nigerians relying on their own business by selling and buying. Since more people become traders and market people, the rest of us have to find money to buy from them. When we are short of money – book me down. Otherwise many people would starve to death. When the urge for money to survive bites harder, we are turned into unscrupulous protesters or trades.
Nigerians like others are bestowed with talented people. How we utilize and manage our talents vary from one country to another. We must wonder in which country a student that got AI in nine WASCE subjects, like Tolulope Falokun and many like her are going to get the opportunity to prosper. We have many students all over the Country that have been stifled because they were born in the wrong place at the right time.
The demise of our Country stare in our faces every day when we see our university students aspire and worship accomplished leaders in foreign countries with futuristic ideas and attractive gadgets to sell to those that never appreciate theirs. How do we explain that the not-so-rich amongst us survive better outside the Country than within?
Nigerians are resigned to a stage where we pride our accomplishments on what we do in foreign countries, how we are acknowledged in foreign circles and the positions we lounged for in international communities, not what we can accomplish at home. No matter what our accomplishment, if it is not at home, we are useless to ourselves but useful to our foreign technical partners on promises.
Indeed, average Nigerians, on book me down, get more social services from their sellers than anyone would expect from government or the fat cats. At the same time, there are still some rich people that care very much for our citizens but shy away from publicity for many reasons including preserving their own lives so that more people do not rush at them demanding more than they could give. Many take on government social duties.
It does not take much to predict where a country is heading if you look at the major attraction in the community. During the time of Star War in United States, President Reagan increased the Defense budget attracting young generation of scientists while making the conservatives rich. They justified it with Armed Race that left Soviet Union in disarray since both powers had the capacity to destroy the world hundred times over.
In China, the Communist Party turned almost every citizen and the new generation into politics in praise of Mao. They justified it with the capability to regulate their population, saved themselves from starvation and then relaxed it with mixed economy to become a powerful world trading partner. All the sacrifice of their people and abuse of human rights were turned into development of cities as they could later redress rural areas.
If those are big countries, Dubai borrowed as much from the West as they could and built services and cities in the desert while they default on their loans but their lenders cannot uproot all the infrastructures and modern amenities built. As a matter of fact, they now dictate what and how they will pay back their lenders.
The point is Nigeria has never gained or learned anything from civil war; and corruption as the only game in town. We have used it to impoverish ourselves. There is corruption all over the world. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Singapore are not free of abuses. United States went wild with financial engineering and plunged the rest of the world into recession after the new generation of financial wizard got hold of the market.
Unlike Nigeria, in spite of other countries’ excesses and abuse, they still have something to justify their misadventures. Nigeria’s next generation of young people has never seen their Country in progressive mood towards sustainable accomplishment. They are having children in a culture of corruption that only worship the dog that eats dogs. They are resigned to rat race for fear of being left behind.
The second coming of Obasanjo came with some hope, if not from his part of the Country, at least from the rest of Nigeria. He started well but ended up as those before him in disappointment. He came to avenge his bankruptcy that he forgot to cure the first time around. Ebele, not again! Could he be heading the way OBJ did or worse?
If all Abacha could do was to make Nigeria self or comparatively sufficient defying foreign debts, products and services, Nigeria could not be in a worse situation today. If all Buhari and Idiagbon did was turn us into a country of disciplined characters, we could have thanked them; that at least we went through fire like raw iron ore and came out like fine steel. All the war, suffering and the abuses we took and suffer for were in vain.