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By: Mankind Olawale Oyewumi

Published October 1st 2010

“Our disabled are abandoned and unacted for, our women-fold are excluded from the mainstream of our development. Our environment is unsanitary. All around, there is the stench of degeneration without growth. Our electricity, water supply, telephone, postal services would appear to be purely decorative. Our legislations are more or less cosmetic, their injunctions more famous because of the ease with which they are circumvented and disobeyed. Everywhere at every level, there is riot of excesses. We model our lifestyle in the Wild West of early Americanism. Our society lacks structure and wealth excuses all. We glory in mediocrity and surpass ourselves by worshiping nonentities. We prefer posturing in action. We prefer palliatives rather than cures; as a people, we have installed parasitism and elevated it into a way of life. We are corrupt; we entertain vaunting and limitless ambitions. We are totally insensitive to our fellow citizens, to their discomfort and to their sufferings”.

Ø Odumegu Ojukwu

“There is a frightful danger for those who care and patriotic enough to look beyond their self-interest. Our ship of state is fast approaching a huge rock; and unless you as the chief helms-men, quickly rise to the occasion and courageously steer the ship away from its present course, it shall hit the rock.”

Ø Obafemi Awolowo.

For posterity and the solemn sake of our time’s material information, I announce that the eccentrically allodoxaphobic leaders of my native Nigeria, despite their unbalancing hibernation and fake clinch to being democratic, are today--the first October 2010--executing their unexciting plans for our nations Fiftieth Independence Anniversary. Obviously as I write, the Nigerian President, with capable incapability to progressively preside on our affairs to the taste of universal truth and beauty, sincerity and decency, along with a coterie of his conscious plunderers in unconscientous godfathers, lawmakers, governors, ministers and ethically unglittering councilors, commissioners and local government chairmen, and other uninformed government officials, is addressing the nation.

Goodluck Jonathan’s beauty-devoid, slavery-informed independence speech, hired dancers from all of our cultural and invented spheres will paint our nation with the euphoria of their flaming performances. Today, the impacts of the far over sixteen Billion Naira mouth-marked for our nation’s Golden Jubilee will place rice and chicken on our salivating tables and memorarious gift in our various archives – as it had always been? And given the odd dexterity with which the brave amateurs of the Nigerian political spirituality had plundered our past and marooned our hope, with which statemen of empty moral slates have shortened our joy and elaborated our doom, with which Pastors and Imams (with due exception to the likes of Tunde Bakare, etc.) had enslaved our chances of growth and greatness, all we boast today as individual citizens of Nigeria is worse than the gathering relics of a nation willed for perdition and ravaged by war.

As if haunted by Obafemi Owolowo’s “If we carry on this way as we have been carrying on since independence, and even before independence, we will never have a strong nation; we will never have peace”, Nigeria at fifty is unenviable and questionable on every basis and scale. Pardon me, fellow Nigerians, why do we celebrate this day? Why am I, and the one hundred and fifty something million-members of the viscious poverty circle irreversibly Nigerians? What are we to do with the Nigerian Fiftieth Independence Anniversary? Are the noble statements of our founding spirits – which filled the hours of the first three official independence jubilations through true freedom and justice, survival and fulfillment available to every Nigerian? And are we being forced into this because our votes do not count and general will historically subverted? Are we not being forced to accept hunger, diseases, ignorance and shame of being Nigerians as tenable reasons for our Fiftieth Independence Anniversary?

All that counts in other sane parts of the globe counts us out of existence as Nigerians. Through a long chain of ignoble precedence from Awolowo and Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa, tribalism, sectionalism, regionalism and materialism threaten to ruin our hope. We cannot live in other parts of the country with peace of mind for the fear of being disadvantaged or killed by the order of tribalism and fanaticism. I grew up in the North and know the inferior mentality of some Northerners as regard other Nigerians. I am constantly told of how hard it is for non-Ibos to trade and own property in the Eastern part of Nigeria; and as a Yoruba person, I am baffled that some Yorubas feel fulfilled discriminating against others on the basis of culture. We relate with a detached sense of Nigerianism; we are united in our disunity; the national coherence is a jewel-belle our beastly behaviour cannot woo. Why then do we celebrate?

The Nigerian hospitals have been justifiably described as death centres by incorruptible critics; the health workers feature in bribery and scandals, the doctors and nurses, caringly doctor our patients into worse aliments! Our schools cannot be envied by any American, English, Scotish, German, Russian, Chinese, Canadian, French, Australian, etc, the way our brilliant heads who detest the wish to be marred by our official ignorance system envy their consistently standard schools. Ninety percent of our teachers are excellently substandard, teaching our children the destructive act of backwardness; our graduates, with the minute exceptions of brains favoured by basic factors of academic eminence by virtue of their births and orientations and personal development, are filthy proofs of our harmony with ignorance that ruins; more than even children from war-torn areas, Nigerian children top the list of humans that have fallen out of the grace quality education can give; in spite of our wealthy wealth, we wallow in the affluence of pauperism, we feed our citizens with hunger, propelling them to crime; we can supply power for social joy and industrial growth, but we prefer the darkness that darkens our hope. Why then do we celebrate?

We impoverish our citizens spiritually, everytime we decrease their confidence in the possibilities of beauty. We lie that we believe in Jesus and Mohammed whose teachings and ways of life we do remember to regularly neglect in policies of the state as politicians and pastors, as professionals and imams. We invite them to heaven by owning every booty on earth; we have done several evils to prove our fear of national good, by building universities that universalize nothing in our students’ souls if at all they manage to pay the forbidden fees we charge their dehumanizing poverty. Why then do we celebrate?

Morally, Nigeria is not an envy to its citizenry; never a point of reliable reference to heavenly commendations. Leaders lie, making citizens believe that lie is a reliable compliment to leadership. Leaders steal, distilling the satanic convictions in our heads that governance is all about looting, and they have imprisoned and murdered our heroes. In keeping these imprisonments and murders undiscovered, they daily kidnap, incarcerate, kill, and scheme more heinous ways of worse species of torments and tortures – physical and psychological. The Nigerian youths do learn from their immoralities. Our children find no indignity in lying and looting. In their presence, IBB, Abacha, Bode George, Buhari, Saraki, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Ibori, Okadigbo, Bankole, Na’haba, Iwu, Nwosu, Kalu, Diko, Akala, Oyinlola, Ribadu, Gussan, Duke, etc, filled (and still filling!) the gulf of their greed with vast state funds voted for the well-being of their peoples’ future. They were not young when their representatives bought magnificent palaces over, and sent their children abroad for broader, more qualitative opportunities. They see that patriotism means opportunism; that loyalty is infidelity; that diligence is stupidity, all from the activities of their lying, stealing and acrimoniously manipulative leaders! Why then do we celebrate?

We are courage-negative and unwise. In our whole history, not up to twenty Nigerians qualify as global moral figures. In sports, we are a failure; in culture, our richness mars our impoverishment; in politics, no great theory or ideology promises us a way out, because of our entrenched belief in the temporary succour evil can give; our lawyers love money than justice; but they must survive! Our bank workers prefer fraud to decency; but they must survive! Our teachers invent the best systems of examination malpractices; but they must survive! Our policemen are waste-baskets of corruption; but they must survive! Some of our soldiers and anti-crime combatants loot banks; but they must survive! Our patriots zoned looting, making for personal greed at the detriment of national needs; but they must survive! Our best minds migrate to England and America; but they must survive! Nothing in the Nigerian system generates hope in the hoping heart of an average Nigerian. The results are evident proofs of our joint failure as a nation; so why do we prefer empty speeches, dances, cake-cutting and victuals to soul-awakening national sorrows that ought to motivate a will to change our nation’s status for good? Why do we celebrate?

What, to the Nigerian pauper, is there in your First October? Your Independence Day is a day that proves to him, beyond the exhibitions of proofs other days of the year can ever reveal the wholesale injustice and oppression in which he is the decided victim. To the Nigerian pauper, your annual anniversary is grey hypocrisy; your vaunted independence, a licensed tyranny; your national eminence, prominent insignificance; your fancies of liberty are vacuous of discipline, are freed of conscience; your oaths at swearing-in ceremonies after election riggings, are ponderable pledges to mighty misanthropy; your quota system and zoning presidency are official arrangements aimed at fostering peace and comradeship among Nigerian oppressors and common looters; your cries of marginalization – far from being borne out of love for Ibos or Yorubas, Ijaws or Hausas, Fulanis or Kanuris, Edos or Itshekiris, Jukuuns or Ogojas, for the Niger Deltans or the silent, unsung cross-bearers in Nigeria – are, shocking enough, a crystallized gut at embellishing your more deserving souls with the filths and guilts of materialistic vanities; your zeals and patriotisms are eerily wearied, uncharged by truism and altruism, unguarded by vision’s bearing; your speeches or sermons, are stinking stench from your sinking spiritual trenches; your active values are the devils virtues, are Mr. Lucifer’s perspectives, and Mephostopheles’ maiming morphemes; your claims to piety in Nigerianistic Samaformism, are to the Nigerian child, a tired tirade and a babblatively befuddling bombast, wholesome hollowness, hallowed shallowness, ambitious deception and distinguished fraud – a consolidated fallacy to veil-up your gratuitous inhumanity. Given the Nigerian resources and realistic chances of extra-ordinarily attaining the inviting attributes of true republicanism, the Nigeria of today is a nation of sovereign savages; the most insensitive and inhuman, with the three most terrible D’s in misery’s hidden script – disappointment, disease and death!

Every good goal calculated to yield Nigeria with benefits always mess us up through riots, protests and war. For religions and elections, we have killed one another. For Population Census and tribalism, our countrymen had died; each time we deposit their remains into mass graves, our next actions suggest our unrepentance. This is a golden jubilee of empty substance in inferior gold. Nigeria at fifty is a chattered chamberlain of hideous villainy. Nigeria at fifty is a meaningless concept implying nothing to the magnetism of universal beauty and global depth. Nigeria at fifty vitiates, demeans and fertilizes Nigerians’ longings of hope with hoplessness. Nigeria at fifty is an unworthy assessment of an adult tagged to gruesome guts, goals and terror of mediocre-childhood; it is a free façade of moral fouls farcically overlooked in our journey to awaited paradise. It is a jocular fancy written large. It is the tiny but deeply spiritual cries of spilled blood, of stomach punished, of hope stabbed, and of mutilated spirits in senselessly cruel policies and government deeds. It is the remembrance of millions’ faith fatigued by official betrayals, and of hope perpetually kept as paper-idea, our nation’s fiftieth anniversary of independent is a magnificent ruin!

I conclude with an instructively prominent portion in Odumegwu Ojukwu’s Because I Am Involved, a masterpiece the University of Oxford-trained historian authored to offer history his own account of the Nigerian Civil war: “The history of the human race has been characterized by continuous struggles: struggle for survival, struggle for social justice, freedom and equality...An ideal Nigeria will be one in which we all believe in the sanctity of human life and the dignity of human persons; a Nigeria where the willful and wanton destruction of human life is not only an abominable sin, but also a grave crime; a Nigeria where every individual counts, and no one is taken for granted; a Nigeria that upholds the dignity of man. We seek a Nigeria which places a high premium on patriotism and Nigerians who have faith and devotion to the fatherland; a Nigeria where every citizen is prepared to work for the nation and to stand up for her. A Nigeria where every citizen knows and demands his civil rights, recognizes the rights of his fellow citizens, and is prepared to defend them when necessary; A Nigeria where we all stand up for our right and assist others to secure their rights. We require a Nigeria where sovereignty and power belong to the people; a Nigeria where rulers strive to satisfy the people at all times; a Nigeria where those who exercise power are accountable to the people; a Nigeria where public servants accept responsibility for inefficiency and bad advice; a Nigeria where abuse of office is severely punished and ill-gotten gains confiscated. We vote for a clean and peaceful Nigeria, where children are well taken-care of; where pedestrians have footpaths to walk on, and the level of noise reduced, a Nigeria where citizens can have fun; a Nigeria that has rediscovered her gaiety.”

NB: Mankind Olawale Oyewumi is a teacher of language and literature.

He is the acclaimed writer of SONGS OF THE LAW, a poetry anthology and IMMORTAL INSTRUCTIONS, his philosophical reflections on life’s different spheres. He is also the compiler and editor of A GIFT TO NIGERIA AT FIFTY, the compilation of prominent opinions on the state of the Nigerian nation. The father of SAMAFORMISM and HUMANITY DAY, his passion for a better Nigeria and humanity is deep, inspiring and invaluable.

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