Prophets abound in Nigeria…be they the false prophets or the ‘real’ prophets. Strangely, these Prophets have never been to any theological school or got ‘called’ like is the cliché with some religious leaders. They tell what Nigeria will do to you such that you are not caught unawares. Look, Nigeria is an interesting place to live. Yet it is a country that can kill you. It has killed a lot of people and it is killing so many.
And it is going to kill many.
The inspiration for this piece came from an article and book written by Ayo Sogunro in 2014 titled ‘Everything in Nigeria is going to kill you’. . Ayo had stated the truth about our docility and lack of awareness of issues concerning us as citizens. Ayo had said: ‘……………….the Nigerian nightmare has changed. Nigeria has evolved from “not taking care of you” into “actively trying to kill you“. Human induced deaths are intensifying. And as far as a reasonable layman’s analysis can be relied on, things are going to get worse. Much worse’. Ayo was not done, he also dropped this, ‘………….also, Nigerian society in general has also experienced this minutely in the deaths caused by bad roads, fake drugs, faulty constructions, poor health service and other substandard government services………………’
True words, yeah?
Read again and focus on ‘deaths caused by bad roads’ and remember the sad tale of the students who died on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway en route Kano on May 3. The students had travelled to Lagos to represent their schools and by extension, the Kano state government in a quiz competition organized by FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc. The students did the state proud and were returning to Kano when they met their deaths on the notorious Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (LIE). Eight promising young individuals (an official of the sponsor and the driver lost their lives too) died, they were wasted and have been converted to another tool for statistics in the contraption called Nigeria.
Nigeria is the only country where we refer to our roads as death traps and the roads have not disappointed us. Just a about fortnight ago, some medical doctors lost their lives on our roads on their way to an annual conference in Kaduna. One does not need to reel out figures appropriated by governments, at all levels (past and present) for road construction. The figures are humongous yet nothing meaningful to show for it. This for obvious reasons, the money end up in private pockets. In the hands of people who will never ply the roads but rather use chartered aircrafts. Such callousness. Of special mention is the in(action) of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and former Works’ Minister under his administration Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway connects to Abeokuta and one needs special glasses to see whatever was done on that road under that Obasanjo administration. In fact, the acronym ‘LIE’ is befitting of that expressway. So many lies have been told to Nigerians by various governments yet the road is still what it is- a death trap. I digressed.
The death of these Kano students further reveals the priority and callousness of our leaders. The governor instructed that their lifeless bodies be flown to Kano because they must be buried without delay, according to one rite. The governor, cabinet member and top politicians all received the lifeless bodies at the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport. They all shed their crocodile tears but the truth is the lives of those boys were unnecessarily wasted. The boys represented your state, they did well at the competition, you were aware of their exploits and were waiting to score cheap political points with their feats or even perhaps credit it to a non-existing educational policy, you allowed them travel by road, they met their death and that was when you offered them a plane. What a priority! This country will kill you.
A ‘friend’ on Facebook in his comment to a post I did last week on the death of those students had said ‘…………..it is destiny……….’ What a faulty thought process! Nigeria is going to kill you and you will allow her to kill you. The UAE, Saudi Arabia etc propagate a religion that some Nigerians hide under to draw such conclusion but these same countries propagate excellence, hard work, strategic planning and sound economic policies. They do not resort to docility and indolence. They will never claim destiny for their inability, failure or refusal to do the needful. Look, Saudi Arabia produces 9million barrels of oil as OPEC quota daily, rakes in more than $10 billion annually from Haji pilgrimage- a form of religious tourism. That country plans to make that holy pilgrimage more attractive by upgrading facilities at Mecca. Saudi Arabia is also looking for other sources of revenue away from oil. They want to diversify and have deliberate and specific roadmaps to achieving that. A country that could have easily claimed destiny for whatever failure. Reading ‘My Vision’ by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum shows what is possible and achievable if a country’s leaders are sufficiently cerebral to set agenda toward economic and social prosperity for her citizens while followers are active enough to constructively engage leaders. They are not countries whose leaders resort to shedding crocodile tears after every avoidable death. They have leaders who do not do everything for the cameras.
By contrast, Nigeria pumps about 2million barrels of oil daily; have abandoned agriculture for so long that it is hardly attractive to her teeming youth population. The falling oil price means that we are struggling by default, yet we are treated to the regular dose of ‘we want to diversify’. To drive home this point Alhaji Lai spoke of 1 masquerade creating 1000 jobs and another cabinet member spoke of us manufacturing pencils. Jokers! We are aware that Information and Communication Technology is a veritable tool for empowering youth and contributing to the economy but where is the deliberate policy to confirm the seriousness to diversify. What has been done to the curricula of our tertiary institutions to reflect current realities. One is sure that the syllabus of Computer Science has not been modified to accommodate ‘coding’ and other endeavours that kids in Asia and Sillicon Valley understand without breaking a sweat. Same goes for the entertainment industry. This industry is certainly a large contributor as well as a veritable source of revenue but nothing deliberate is being done to further harness the potential. Nothing to really take it to the status of Hollywood. One hears of the MOPICON bill and wonders why we are usually the architect of our misfortune.
There is a law of consequences. That the failure to do that which is right will come to haunt you at the appropriate period. Our failure to construct, repair and upgrade roads in the past is what we are seeing in numerous deaths on the road today. We do not need plenty prayers, all we need is hard work and strategic thinking.
I must admit that writing this piece was painful because I am weighed down by the daily sad occurrence that keeps repeating itself in different shapes and form. It is being repeated in long queues at filling stations, lack of electricity, terrible health facilities, and poor economic policy. And even from government’s bad actions and inactions but one still remains optimistic (cautiously though) that the right things will be done by all.
Engage the writer, Oyewo Ishola, on Twitter via @kingshola22