Happy birthday to you!
Country of my birth! The first place my subconscious still calls home. It is incredible how your children in diaspora still recognise you as birthplace and home first. You hear Nigerian-American, Nigerian-British, Nigerian-Chinese etc. The identification and grounding it gives the bearer, is the recognition that they would not be where they are today if it was not for your love and lessons. Even those who live within your shores, disgruntled as they may be with the state of events today, will still only refer to you as motherland!
Beautiful land of our fathers, from the Sahel lands of the North to the rainforests of the South, your name, glory and story was told for years abroad. You were the giant of Africa. There was none to compare.
You have had independence fifty-nine years ago today. In human age, fifty-mine is considered middle age. It is almost as though the vibrant, positive outlook of your youth has now been overtaken by the lethargy of middle age! The love and loyalty of your children lost in the table of ethnicity, religiousness, corruption and bad governance.
Some of your children think that the British should never have come to your shores. Years after they said they discovered you, even though you were never obscured in the first place! Years after this, because you were always there. Thriving on your own. With your beautiful, warm practices, You were always there going about your business!
But then came colonialism and with it, the divide and rule system of governance. Pitching kith against kin and region and beliefs against region. Colonialism came and broke your heart into several little regions for their benefit. These little ones were now easier to manage, easier to control and most importantly easier to exploit. That was the agenda, and that agenda still remains till now.
Then they pillaged cowries and people and sugarcane anything they could find really. Today, they pillage crude and people and still pitch families against each other. Our reserves in their refineries, our people in their workforces, our land soaked with crude, damaged like the people who have suffered years of being conditioned to hate and fight each other! The desecration of the land enhanced by the enabling of corruption in every facet of governance.
Tell me Nigeria, are we to only blame the visitors for the disarray they left behind when they went back home? If one visits and they are rules of engagement, surely the visitor has to abide by these? If they do not and when they have left and the homeowner discovers the house has been trashed, surely he himself should set about restoring his house to its previously pristine state.
You have had fifty-nine years to correct your story Nigeria! That is long enough for there to be no more excuse made.
Fifty-nine years is enough time to build and maintain one working refinery to produce and sell the one thing you are recognised for. To make crude.
Fifty-nine years is enough years in which to have sustainable and uninterrupted electric power supply all year round. Your neighbours who are supplied by you have this. Is that not an irony? The cabals would rather line their pockets with the proceeds of generator sales and hike up fuel and diesel prices than allow this happen!
Fifty-nine years is enough time to learn from your many mistakes and elect credible public servants to ensure good governance. But your children are tired, they no longer exercise their civil rights and even when they do, ballot boxes are stolen, results shunted, scheming and embezzlement become the order of the day to send you right back to bad governance.
Tell me motherland, where will we go from here?
Sixty is just around the corner and we must be ready! How can you regain even a modicum of hope for your children?
How does a mother encourage participation and stir up the involvement of all her children?
By ensuring that these ones know what’s to lose by not continuing to fight.
Because fighting is all the option they have.
Because the alternative is unbearable!
How does a mother of militant unruly children who want to break away from the family encourage and foster togetherness? Because a broom is more difficult to break than a single twig!
Your story is long and drawn out and we could be here reeling off all your ailments till you turn eighty years old. That will not help us though.
You need to stand and speak Nigeria!. Tell your children how much you love them. Restore hope and love to all. Do this now so that when you turn sixty, more of you children will sing your praises on the streets instead of the quiet, awkward silence that greeted you today.
Your ‘independence day’ Spotter
Ps. We have all said that we will support new, younger, ‘untested’ faces in governance but someone here reminded me that anytime one comes up, we shoot him down and then spend the next four to eight years moaning about how we got shortchanged. This is who we are, your children! And we must do better Nigeria!