God, give us men!
GOD, give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
Josiah Gilbert Holland
On the first of October 2005, Nigeria celebrated 45 years of independence from the former colonial power- the British rule. It was a huge celebration. Everywhere, everyone’s mood was festive. Virgin Nigeria, in commemoration of the celebration, offered N45, 000 return flight ticket to London- (their reason for celebrations you can understand; Nigerians recently helped them to steal one of the Nigerian family inheritance: the Nigerian Airways). Vmobile, one of the useless and hardly functional mobile telecom firms in Nigeria which continuously reaps so much money from Nigeria, in the spirit of celebration, offered 45 free text messages to its subscribers. I remember text messages were flying into my mobile phone like minutes tickling on that day and after several consistent goodwill messages to my phone, I decided to take part in the fever and started sending congratulatory messages to friends. One of them wrote back and said the tragedy of Nigeria’s 45 years independence celebration was not in the riddle of the flamboyance of thoughts about the length of independence, but in the futility of my joining the praise singing songs of hurray! As far as he was concerned, a child of 45 years who has nothing to offer both his parents and offspring at such matured age, is a huge failure. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” After so long of doing so much for one’s country, it is only fair and pertinent to ask what that country can do for her citizens in return.
In most recent times, there are so many family members and friends calling my private phones for financial assistance of some sort or the other. There are friends, relatives, even foes searching desperately for jobs because the situation is getting worse (and this is not rhetoric but true). Roads are getting worse, resources are becoming leaner, the nation is getting sick, morale is low, housing for all by the year 2000 is not applicable to folks of the low class, armed robbery is increasing, confidence in the police force is falling, capacity to prosecute public officials is dwindling and political promises are no longer bond. In short; “Nigeria jagajaga, everything scatter, scatter.” My friend’s refusal to celebrate woke me up to the harsh reality of the Nigerian mirage. I instantly went into solitude and melancholy. It was then that I responded; in the same vein as Josiah Gilbert Holland during his life (1818- 1881) and prayed to God almighty that God give us men; men who have honor, men who will not lie.
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