The art and act of living have been of utmost concern to the living since antiquity. Both involvements in spite of their differing features may never be divorced when their practicalities are considered. The process of being born and nurtured assumes an intimate dimension which, in its developmental consideration, is a sine qua non to evaluating the worth of Man nay nations. When a community is tagged underdeveloped, it is the human beings who populate such human collection that are being described. It is against this background that it becomes imperative to sit back and evaluate the worth, the real essence and implications, the moral aura of Nigeria at 50.
Yes, it is a thing of joy to be realized: born and exist to be this old. Of course, the former Yugoslavia existed for a while before her disintegration. Russia had to renounce communism under the pressure of capitalism. The Germanys destroyed the Berlin Wall in order to recreate the old unity.
So, what have the hapless Nigerian masses been yapping about since independence? Why has Nigeria retained her corporate existence in spite of the obvious debauchery of her leaders? It is the truth that the Nigerian commoners have been at the receiving end since the Union Jack gave way for the White Green White. It would have been understood and appreciated if these commoners were in any way responsible for the harrowing plight they have been forced to live with, but it has been empirically repeatedly proved that it is the people who offered themselves for service who have wittingly subjected the masses to this sub human existence.
My curiosity about the place of leadership responsibility for the perpetual repression and suppression of the Nigerian masses which I thought was sharp and intense received an informed dimension in the morning of Monday, 27th September in the course of Rockcity FM’s audience participation programme which had Professor Dayo Akeredolu-Ale as one of the guest speakers. The Professor actually took me to the classroom and tutored me about the actual place, degree of involvement and complicity of the Nigerian leadership
design in the cursed social, political, economic and other indices of existence which Nigeria and Nigerian masses had been the subject in the last five decades. I came to understand that leadership which I had dogmatically tied to politics goes beyond that narrow perception of mine. It is tethered to social, educational, commercial, religious and all the segments that make up a nation. While I agree with the Professor’s logic, a strong instinct differs on the degree of responsibility and involvement of each of these leaders. I hold the political leaders responsible for the current deplorable situation in Nigeria.
The space of time to begin an evaluation of the sorry situation Nigeria has sunk could be 1999, (this does not imply that the indications were not glaring before 1999) Those like myself who have been unfortunate enough to experience the military abracadabra that culminated in bringing Mr Obasanjo to power and the ridiculousness and nothingness that characterized his administration will agree with me that the nature and structure of the rot started setting in from that unfortunate year. Buoyed by an unholy affinity with which the military actively aided the system, encouraged by an impoverished and docile masses, the stage is set for a resounding rape of the national resources. The whole ludicrousness was accentuated by the fact that since that year we have had a set of leadership stocked by a party that has continued to praise itself as the largest collection of wise Nigerians.
At which of the segments do we commence the evaluation? Education? Very well. I had the unfortunate experience of going through all the levels of educational attainment in Nigeria. Unfortunately still I have taught at all the levels. I want to report that what we are practicing here is not imparting knowledge but training rogues and miscreants. A discerning mind may count me one of the culprits. I will agree with him simply because I have been responding to societal dictates just like my students have been. We have been running an educational scheme that lays premium on deception, elitism, rooted in faulty implementation of a sound and credible system of education that benefited other parts of the world with appreciable resources… There is nothing wrong with the 6-3-3-4 system of education. The system is efficacious and its degree of fecundity unparalled. The problem is how has it been implemented in Nigeria? How much has been budgeted to the education sector in Nigeria and how much has actually been spent on education? Suddenly, we woke up in Ogun State and the policy was that secondary schools should be returned to the missionaries. This is not a bad policy but again the quality of implementation has left parents in the dark about what actually is happening to education in Awolowo state. And that is the story in almost all the other states of this odd federation.
The Editorial page of National Life of Sunday, September 26, 2010 presented a sorry image of the current performance rating of Nigerian students at the secondary school level. This is a disturbing breakdown of the report according to education experts: over 60% of the 1,132,357 candidates who sat for the National Examination Council this current year would not gain admission to any Nigerian tertiary school. If this Neco picture is considered, one may make a mental incursion into what the result looked like in other examination organizing bodies in the country.
Those Nigerian youths who wriggled their ways into tertiary school are not better. The Bible insinuated that the quality of one’s thought informs the robustness of one’s contributions at a dialogue. What issue out of the reasoning of most of these students is worrisome. One begin to wonder what manner of governors, legislators, councilors and the likes Nigeria will produce when the current crops of undergraduates find their rhythm in the labor market.
What I consider the most disturbing aspect of our national development is that these youths are conscious of the cesspool existing in the larger society. Most of them are dependant, but these are miseducated dependants are wise to the debauchery of their parents and they are baying to get out of school and join the crazy rush for wealth accumulation that is the order of the day. From the northern part of the country where Boko Haram sect has held the nation ransom to southern part where kidnapping is the order of the day, insecurity is the in-thing in Nigeria of today. Is it not a phenomenon of extreme concern that it is only in the giant of Africa that criminals in form of armed robbers, kidnappers, burglars and common pickpockets are steps ahead of the law enforcement agents.
An incident should summarise this segment of our national malady: My head of department called my attention to a national conference being organized by one of the universities in the Deltan part of the country; he emphasized the need for my colleagues and me to prepare a joint paper to be presented at the academic forum. It was in the course of his presentation that a news item was flashed on the television set in his office that kidnappers had snatched some reporters who were covering a national assignment; that was the end of any of us considering leaving our base at Abeokuta for far way Delta.
It would have been a sweet experience if the Nigerian walking the streets can arrive home, squeeze a switch and electricity comes alive; stand by road side and board a cab to convey him to his destination at the right time. He would have been better off if his children are receiving sound education that should make them stand shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries any where in the world. What has been his lot in the last fifty years? Flagrant deprivation and neglect; his social status is not defined. Food is scarce and where it is available, it is so expensive he
has to tear his pocket in order to eat. Health, its availability and affordability are part and parcel of the dream. Yet, he is aware that some idlers residing in Abuja under the guise of being legislators pocket millions of naira every month for doing next to nothing. So how does he ensure a good life for himself and his family than joining the bandwagon and hope for the best. Now, is that how to ensure national development? Far from it. What such pessimistic mode of existence will guarantee is a qualitative retrogression and deep-rooted nonchalant attitude to national consciousness; it will definitely erode the gestation of patriotic consciousness.
There is no gain saying the fact that without a conscious and honest approach at investing in the Nigerian, there is no amount of propaganda that would make the Nigerian see anything good in the country talk less of making any meaningful contribution to the development of the country. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, since 1999 Nigeria can’t boost of any meaning programme that could ensure that the Nigeria is being considered. What we have had and is still having ( like vision 2020) is lax approaches, ephemeral programmes and halfhearted insinuations warped visions at making life better for the Nigerian. It should be made clear to those who are governing us that no amount of text messages, sloganeering and advertisements on whatever media can attenuate the pains of deprivation and neglect. It has to be emphasized that no matter the insistence and quality of government pronouncements, if they are not backed up with tangible actions characterized with sincerity and transparent positive intensions, Nigeria will continue to run around in circles.
Much energy and intellectual rationalization has been expended by a section on the nation to the effect that even if Nigeria may find it difficult to point to many worthy achievements, the fact that the country has remained one for fifty years despite going through a civil war is enough reason to roll out the drums. Must unity be preserved in the face of neglect and brazen dishonesty as evidenced in Nigeria? Must the prerequisites for defining unity be dictated by a clique whose attribute is dishonest political hegemony? Does unity mean sitting the constitution down on its head when interpreting it? How true is our federalism? Does it mean we have not had leaders who should be bold enough to allow the regions control their natural resources? If unity is quantified from the points of view of lying leaders, deceptive legislation and legislators, suppression of truth then no rational person should count it as one of the achievements in the last fifty years.
Must the Nigerian be made to go through these excruciating experiences simply because someone wants to lay claim to achievements? I wonder.