By Onyema UcheFew days ago, I spent 10 billion Naira to celebrate my 52nd birthday! I am Nigeria!!!.
I am divided into 36 unequal states, plus my capital territory, christened ABUJA . I have millions of acres of arable land and billions of cubic litres of water, but I cannot feed myself. So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion to import milk. I produce rice, but don’t eat it. I have 60 million cattle but no milk. I have the capacity to feed the whole of Africa but I import most food instead.
I am hungry, please help and re-build me.
I drive the latest cars in the world but have no roads, neither can I boast of manufacturing a bicycle’s tyre. I lose family and friends everyday on my roads for which funds have been allocated to build and rehabilitate but the fund has been looted. I lose my young, my old, and my most brainy and productive people to the potholes, craters and crevasses they travel on everyday. I am in permanent mourning, please re-build me.
My school has no teacher and my classroom has no roof. I take lecture notes through the window and live with 15 others in a single room. All my professors have gone abroad, some of the rest are awaiting visas. Those that remain, depend on money raked from the sales of hand-outs to students. My students receive lectures for a maximum of 3 months in a year due to lecturers’ strike or students’ boycott of lectures because of lack of better condition of service and deplorable condition on campus. That explains why I have university graduates, who are semi- illiterates.
I want a future, please re-build me.
Malaria, typhoid and many other preventable diseases send me to hospitals which have no doctors, no medicines and no electric power. So my wife gives birth by candle light and surgery is performed by quacks. All the nurses have gone abroad and the rest are also waiting to go. I have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and future generations are dying before me.
I am hopeless, hapless and helpless, please re-build me.
I wanted change so I stood all day long to cast my vote. But even before I could vote, the results had been announced. When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets. My rulers are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors. I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy. I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please re-build me.
I have over 50 million youths with no jobs, no present and no future. So my sons in the North have become street urchins and their brothers in the South have become militants. My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and their cousins drown in the waters of the Mediterranean . My daughters walk the streets of Lagos , Abuja and Port Harcourt , while their sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam. I am inconsolable, please re-build me.
My people cannot sleep at night and cannot relax by day. They cannot use ATM machines, nor use cheques. My children sleep through the staccato of AK 47’s, see through the mist of tear gas, while we all inhale Carbon Monoxide, poisonous CO-2 from popular ‘I better pass my neighbour’ (portable generators) and ‘Okada’ (motorbike taxis) The leaders have looted everything on ground and below. They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private jets (28 of which were bought in the last 12 months). They have stolen the future of generations yet unborn and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes, but their brothers die of hunger. I want justice, please re-build me.
I can produce anything, but import everything. So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa; my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland; my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy; my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia; my biscuit is made in Indonesia; my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France. My taste is far-flung and foreign. I no longer cook at home but take pride in eating at take-away outlets fashioned after the Western style of living.
Anything made in my land is inferior; I prefer those made in England, America or Europe . To crown it all, items made in my land but specifically sent abroad with made in England labels are brought back from ‘Oyinbo’ land at 5 times the original price it would have gone for had it been sold as home made, please re-brand me.
My people are cancerous from the greed of their friends who bleach palm oil with chemicals; my children died because they drank ‘My Pikin’ with NAFDAC numbers; my poor die because kerosene explodes in their faces; my land is dead because all the trees have been cut down; flood kills my people yearly because the drainage is clogged; my fish are dead because the oil companies dump waste in my rivers; my communities are vanishing into the huge yawns of gully erosion, and nothing is being done. My livelihood is in jeopardy, and I am in the uttermost depths of despondence, please re-build me.
I have genuine leather but choose to eat it.. So I spend a billion dollars to import fake leather. I have four (4) refineries, but prefer to import fuel, so I waste more billions to import petrol and diesel. I have no security in my country, but would rather send troops to keep the peace in another man’s land. I have 160 dams, but cannot get water to drink, so I buy ‘pure’ water that broils my inwards. I have a million children waiting to enter universities, but my ivory dungeons can only take a tenth (10 %). I have no power (electricity) , but choose to flare gas, and vote billion of dollars every year to generate electricity but not a single watt has come from it. So, my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at
the glare of naked flares. I have no direction, please re-build me.
My people pray to God every morning and every night, but commit every crime known to man because re-branded identities will never alter the tunes of inbred rhythms. Just as the drums of heritage heralds the frenzied jingles, remember – the Nigerian soul can only be Nigerian – fighting free from the cold embrace of a government that has no spring, no sense, no shame. So we watch the possessed, frenzied dance, drenched in silent tears as freedom is locked up in democracy’s empty cellars. I need guidance, please re-build me.
But then, why can I not simply be me, without being re-branded?
Or does my complexion cloud the colour of my character?
Does my location limit the lengths of my liberty?
Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul?
Does my mien maim the mine of my mind?
And is this life worth re-branding?
Is it re-branding that I need or complete re-building?
Others blame my calamities on the colonial master that has left my shore some 51 years ago. Without deceiving myself, I know I have problems, who will deliver me? May be what I need is to be re-born, Christians call it being born-again. Turning to a higher authority or changing direction. I mean to sincerely own up and turn to the man up-stairs, may be, just maybe solution will come from there.
To re-build a wobbling structure, there is need for dismantling of existing one (remember, if the foundation can be destroyed, what can the
righteous do?).. Shall I then consider the idea muted by some of my own who have fled abroad?
Some call for ‘Separation for Co-operation’ , others call for true Federalism – while others are yet asking for the return to Parliamentary system.
Which way do I go? on October 1, 2009, I celebrated my 50th birthday and my 52nd was just celebrated.
I do not want to carry on in my golden age without direction, … so, please, help me God. Re-mould and Re-Build me.
PLEASE PRAY PERSISTENTLY FOR NIGERIA!
By Onyema Uche