I rise today, like a prophet of old, to warn my country Nigeria. I do so, not because I have had a dream in which I saw rivers of blood flow. I do so, not because an old woman with a walking stick whispered to me the secrets of the future. I do so, not because I have engaged the services of a marabout or fortune teller who indicates that trouble lurks. I do so because I have finally made the transition–from Nigerian child to Nigerian adult. And if the words of this Nigerian adult, who bleeds green-white-green in his interior, are not heeded, then the words of no other Nigerian adult ought be heeded. Nigeria’s day of reckoning, my friend, is at hand.
The unspoken assumption, growing up in seventies Nigeria, was that Nigeria was supposed to “get better.” It was evident, that despite slums like Abadina there within the University where I lived, and despite poverty in Ajegunle and elsewhere, Nigeria was rising to become a global power. In those days, the US Dollar and the Naira were virtually at par, though in hindsight this was a cruel trick of economics. Why, I remember, traveling to the UK back then, one was granted a Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) of not more than a few hundred naira, and this was enough for Nigerians to come back home from the West , escaping the trappings of the West. But the plan was not to perpetually make London and New York the new shopping malls for Africans. No, instead, we had superstores like Kingsway and Leventis, stocked with admirable trappings of modernity, so that it did not seem in anyway unusual to visit Santa Claus at the Kingsway superstore in Dugbe during the Christmas Season. It was clear that we were to become more like London and New York, and that the slums in Dugbe and elsewhere, surrounding our… trappings of modernity, were to be eliminated.
In those days, power supply was regular, water supply was bountiful and optimism was the order of the day. Nigeria was a giant, rising out of the Sahel, spreading her giant wings across the continent of Africa. Indeed, Nigeria was then known as the “Giant of Africa.”
In that era, Nigeria competed favorably in every category, and though the work was not done, it was clear that Nigeria was meant to become Black Africa’s “first world” representative. The spirit was positive and the reviews were glowing. Nigeria was the black man’s answer to racism and denigration.
But as months became years and the years became seasons, even as a child I could tell that something was not quite right. The propaganda I had bought into was not yielding fruit, but it continued to flow ubiquitously from the center of power and only who was pushing it believed it. But Nigerians, known for their endless happiness in the face of suffering continued to give the leadership the benefit of the doubt. Soon, we all would be enjoying Nigeria’s wealth too. All of us. Not just a few of us in government, but all of us in the nation would share in the blessing given Nigeria by God, blessings which most nations would salivate for. Waterways, oil, palm oil, forestry, iron ore, tin, bauxite and so on and so forth. Yet, the Nigerian leadership continued, as though it were the same set of people, to ignore the hardship and pain Nigerian citizens were undergoing–despite all the wealth that was Nigeria. They started to loot and continued to loot and loot and loot so that today many of them can count billions of dollars that they received from my country, and not for working for this money. No, they received from my country, wealth from its oil, allocations of oil blocks and willy nilly transfer of barrels of oils to individuals, and ignored the underdeveloped resources which were meant to make life better for all Nigerians.
Soon, things had changed.
I do not know the exact day, but Nigeria crossed the threshold and the code is now “red.” I do not recall the exact moment, but Nigeria has entered into the forest of evil spirits. One day, and maybe soon, the world will remember these words, and if they had not, till then, listened to the voice of a Nigerian adult, I pray they will forthwith. Nigeria’s day of reckoning, my friend, is at hand.
Can’t you tell? Is it not obvious? The ratio of Nigerian adults in that endless pool of Nigerians willing to serve in government, to the ratio of those who put the greater good above parochial, provincial and selfish interests is quite frankly tragic. We have all heard tales of corruption, and with the recent meltdown in the West it is clear that Nigeria does not have the trademark on corruption. And yet, the power of greed in Nigeria is today like the powerful eye of a hurricane, sweeping with impunity all who dare stand in its way. I remember back in the day, during President Shehu Shagari’s administration, Nigeria’s aborted “Second Republic,” there were tales of corruption that made the mouth water. Millions, billions of US dollars going to individuals with the slight of a pen and a commitment to secrecy. People, back then, believed that Nigeria could not continue in that manner. But the miracle of corruption continued and Nigerians in power continued to loot, and loot, and loot. And they were protected by power itself–the power of government, so much so that the culture of corruption imparted unto its practitioners a sense of invincibility.
The saying goes, every day for the thief, but one day for the owner. That day, my friend, is at hand.
For I have heard tales of one man, Major Kaduna, who has not lost his soul to the satanic vice of greed. He does not exist physically, but he exists as every Nigerian who cringes in horror when the misdeeds of those in power are revealed. It is not that Nigeria is so different from other countries, it is that Nigeria is richer than most other countries. And so the irrational drive to loot her treasury, while leaving undeveloped her resources, has placed the country at boiling point. The kettle is whistling, but the owner of the house is sleeping. Soon the kettle will explode. Nigeria’s day of reckoning, my friend, is at hand.
Our spiritual father, Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, used to say “One day go be one day.” One day will be one day. And that day, my friend, is coming. For, one day, the Nigerian will have tired of suffering endlessly with no relief in sight, for citizens of the one of the world’s wealthiest nations. And that day there shall be an uprising, a fire that will not easily be quenched, neither by the Military nor by the Police nor by any militia. This uprising shall engulf Nigeria, north to south, and make mortals shudder. For her people shall suffer no more. One day go be one day. On that day you will remember these words. On that day you will say to the Nigerians then in power, you ought to have listened to the words of that Nigerian who made the transition from Nigerian Child to Adult Nigerian Spirit.
But it will be too late, for the power of greed in Nigerian adults who serve in government is a cancerous growth that would by then require amputation. And just like in every other civilization that has risen due to necessity, Nigerian civilization shall shake the world and move Nigerians to forever, forever my friend, consider the implications of serving in a position for which the greater good is the only good. This day might not happen tomorrow, but if these words are not heeded–and the chorus of complaints is not heeded– it will happen soon. Nigeria’s day of reckoning, my friend, is at hand.