Speaking Truth to Power: Who Say We Tire? Nigeria at 50!

Who say we tire? Na rest we dey rest ke! The song chorused across the football fields of St Gregory’s’ College, Obalende. This was a song rendered by the increasingly resigned students of King’s College as one of the ‘Up School’ football teams decided to offer a lesson in soccer mastery. The King’s College Lions had nothing to deploy in response other than a determination not to be humiliated. As the minutes ticked by it became increasingly obvious that we were experiencing a massacre of monumental proportions and that the score line would be grim, reflecting the decline of the Lions.

During my college years, the autumn time, rather than some fluke of an aberration, had become an annual ritual to hope against hope that our once mighty lions would conquer everything in its terrain and lift the Principal Cup in the glorious summer. However, it had become apparent in the very competitive world of football that we were fighting a losing battle. Whilst other college teams graced football matches with skills and mastery we were reduced to entertainment coming from our songs of praise and resilience. We were dazzling in our magic blazers and white shirts, but it was quite obvious that our songs signified the last roar of a dying lion. In the game of cricket, the gentlemen’s came it was different but that story remains to be told at another time.

In reminiscing about my King’s College days, it is Nigeria that comes to mind, the arrival of the 50th year of independence from Britain. Whilst many of our competitors who started out at the same level of development or below us in the 1960s, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, have now motored ahead, our story is different. We appear to be resting on our laurels with the song: Who say we tire? Na rest we dey rest ke! We are fond of the reference as the giant of Africa, yet in our own backyard, Ghana shames us into silence, with its ability to deliver a stable environment for investment and progress.

In Nigeria at every conceivable level of governance we are confronted with a confounding and ravaging enemy whose name is corruption. The characters masquerading as our government are busy looting the state through a variety of means and schemes. They are determined to lead us all into the realm of utter ruin and destruction and inflict more tears, sweat and blood on the governed. Recycling is a word redefined as part of a new vocabulary in Nigeria where old and discredited politicians with no credit to their names transverse the breath of the land seeking a mandate to redeem themselves.

The Church that should be the glimmer of hope, the light and the salt in such a situation as this is only beginning to be stirred by one or two ministers, Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare being amongst them, most others are content to set up their own institutions and luxuriate in their own environs and the hope for the glorious heaven to come.

It would appear that Governor Raji Fashola has now been left as a sole glimmer of hope in the whole familiar mess. In Lagos, where Governor Fashola is transforming the state and re-defining the boundaries of governance in Nigeria, it would not surprise you that for all his efforts he may not even be rewarded with an opportunity to renew his mandate for progress. In Oyo state, the ancient city of Ibadan, now rightfully assumes the tag in every meaning of the word. While the Governor glows in the sunshine, the state decays by the night. Yet, this Governor is almost guaranteed a 2nd term while for us ‘progressives’, siddon look and our actions seem to mouth the song: “Na rest we dey rest ke!” I am not even sure that other states other than Anambra fare any better.

Many have suggested, including I that perhaps our national deliverance will come from those residing in Diaspora; however, my recent experience does not bare this out. This despair is captured in the small attempts by some on the internet fora in the Diaspora to honour our heroes past. The attempts to honour the memory of the Rt. Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, the first President of Nigeria is subject to put down commentaries grounded in ethnic animosities and imaginary roadblocks. The popular parlance is the emerging excuse that we would not allow progress from others because their motives are suspect seems to be the preferred mantra of the hour.

We have become a nation of excuses, excuses not to do the right thing, we jaw, jaw, and talk, talk, and even write, write just for the fun of it. Pull me down mentality is more powerfully revealed in our writings rather than pull them up. We use history as a justification to maintain the status quo of rot rather than as a propeller to and of progress. We seem content to wallow, dwell and repeat the errors of our leaders past in order to maintain some ethnic purity in Nigeria. But maybe there is hope for in every of these dark areas, there are a few motivated to do the right thing and abandon old distractions, it is in this light, the fundraising by some in the Diaspora to renovate Zik statute and mausoleum should be located and commended.

Nigeria at 50, faces a stalemate, the go-slow government has been replaced by a do nothing government and as we rest, these rogues are coming out like thieves in the night to wreck what remains of the landscape. The vast majority of us are of course content to siddon look, to squabble, learn new words of insult and abuse and simply accomplish nothing but marking time! I choose to speak truth to power in the hope that we will arise from our rest of 50 years and impact the landscape of Nigeria.

Written by
Olu Ojedokun
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