From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa The Ijaw Youth Council [IYC] has rejected the planned take-off of Operation Crocodile SmileII in the Niger Delta region scheduled to commence Saturday. Lately, the waterways in the Niger Delta region especially in Bayelsa State had been gripped by criminal activities culminating in the attack and killing of soldiers and other security…
The state of our nation should be of concern to every citizen who has intellect and a good conscience. The magnitude of sufferings we have imposed on our people should torment our hearts every moment of the day and night. If I were the president of this nation, I would decree that we do away with celebration of any kind and this would be because any society that wants to make meaningful progress, the first step would be to tell themselves the truth about what their situation truly is. If we admit to the truth, it wouldn’t be difficult to reach a consensus that there is no reason for us to celebrate either as individuals or as a nation. Except for a few, most citizens just exist; they are not living. We are very poor in statistics otherwise the figure of Nigerians who pass on to the great beyond on account of hunger and starvation would startle any sound mind.
Data given by National Bureau of Statistics just last week said about 31 million Nigerians are unemployed. I want to believe that this figure is not inclusive of some Nigerians we call executives even when we know they are just parasites on the system. They wake up every day with nowhere to go and no job to do, yet they live very flamboyantly. Most of our rich people boast of big money but the truth is 90 per cent of them have no productive industry. At best, what some of them have are service related companies like hotels and big restaurants and bars, all of them residual enterprises which are of better relevance when a society has through hard work grown her productive wings. From what I have read from history books, citizens in nations we call developed, did not enjoy or celebrate the way we do today, even now that they are said to be developed, their citizens work their ass out to earn a living and if what they tell me is anything to go by, before a friend spends a dime on your head, he would be sure of what reciprocal good he would derive from you either in the immediate or in the future.
Here we take events, birthdays, marriage, child dedication, house warming, anniversaries of various kinds and burials very seriously. The vogue now is that every parent including the highly educated ones want their children (boys & girls) to be musicians, footballers or actors; at periods like this, when the leaders and the led should spend more time in retrospection of the classical kind, we all turn hedonists, swimming in pleasure and quaffing large doses of alcoholic beverages after which we become drunk and engage in the condemnation game, without the slightest urge to see the importance of offering suggestions alongside criticisms.
If we were serious people and truly desirous of quick transformation of our environment, we all would have been students of history and one good thing we would have picked from history would be that residual activities are not in the first line charge of factors for national development. It is not that they are not important; football or pilgrimage in an era of competing needs with of course scarce resources, should not take precedence over productive, science, research and development endeavors. If residual activities were that potent and a key transformative agent, the station of Blacks in America would not be what it is, where they are denied dignified jobs, scorned and even hunted like animals in the bush.
On the other hand, Blacks in core areas of national need, like Dr. Ben Carson and a few others, can hardly be molested the way those in residual assignments get maltreated. What this shows is that any society that wants to grow knows those to respect and honour and they are usually those in the critical sector of national life. What this suggests for us is not just setting our priority right, it is also about initiating a change in our value system. Government must lead by getting her priorities right, recreating the human element is cardinal; there are principles citizens of backward nations must imbibe if they have the intention to quicken the pace of their movement. Festive periods offer us better opportunity to test run those values we cherish. We don’t do these; no wonder everywhere and everything appears to be in ruins. I was part of the local community crowd this last festive period and what I saw of the people made me shed tears. I saw hitherto healthy indigenes looking very emaciated and on enquiry I found out many of them could not make ends meet, some of their children were pale with protruding tummies, which for me were signs of malnutrition. They all are citizens of what we call ‘a great country.’ I wonder how we allowed them to get to the level I saw. I guess part of the reason could be that we give so much attention to the mundane to the displacement of the very serious. This is not just an aberration; it is a tragedy.
I still insist we must be a very serious nation and given where we are, every focus should be on those things that can take us up. The present generation of leaders must know what is required and begin to display a clear commitment to stick by them. Development of a nation is not a child’s play; it is an onerous task, requiring good brain, vision, energy and sacrifices.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel before we can enter the progress lane; we can do the simple, read the history of other nations and get our experts to align some of those experiences to our local peculiarities. The Jews became who they are as a result of their productive and creative mindset from the word ‘go’. Science and technology and later arts entrenched them as the leading group in the industrial revolution that took place in Europe, they began with science and quickly followed with arts, today in spite of competition from other races, the Jews remain the best industrialists anywhere they are found on the face of the earth. Today they are branching into the residual sector not as participants but owners. This is an example of what official deliberateness can do for a nation and for the people. This is one essential thing lacking in our developmental efforts, our leaders are experts at throwing emergency solutions on every problem.
We say we want to develop but our approach is far from our intention. What is the vision? We have heard of Vision 2020 and others. How many Nigerians know what it is and how many of those who conceived the documents have seen the picture of what it should look like or have statistics clearly showing the landmarks and their effects. If we have a vision document, the police would not be struggling with Customs over which of them should be responsible for checking vehicles, state security would not even be heard let alone being seen, military would be a rare sight while civil and mobile police would handle issue of internal security. Agriculture should not be about food security alone, the plan should include using its product for industrialization. Are these the things we do? Are we really serious about moving from Third world to First world?