Dear God, I come to you this beautiful Monday morning, the last day of the last month of the year 2012, to lend my voice to those of millions of Nigerians who cry to you daily for a way out of the myriad of issues be setting our nation. Because you are all-seeing, all-knowing and all over the place(omnipresent), there may be no point listing all the problems your children, God’s children, have had to contend with .
You know some of the problems already. You know what your people have been going through in the hands of our nation’s treasury robbers since you gave us this beautiful land and blessed it with abundant human and natural resources. You hear the cries of your children. You see their tears. You feel their frustrations. You know this is not where we should be as a nation.You know we should truly have been a giant in all ramifications, but for our leaders(eaters, actually), who have stunted our growth and arrested our development. Our song is the song of lamentation, instead of redemption songs or songs of joy.
We lament our excruciating unemployment level; we lament insecurity in the land; we lament hunger and frustration; we lament our lost glory in education where many university graduates can’t spell their names correctly or tell the capital of Lagos State. We lament our seeming bond with the god of darkness. Electricity remains an unrealisable goal. Forget what our rulers say and would want the outside world to believe, things are really rough for us as a nation and as a people.
Except for the hypocritical, we are at point zero right now searching for a hero to lead us to the Promised Land, the land flowing with all the good things of life which you freely gave but which they cruelly deny us. Instead of tackling headlong our infrastructure decay and forging a new direction: getting the youths engaged by creating sustainable jobs, providing health care, pipe borne water and constructing durable roads, at over 50, our rulers only celebrate the fact that we are still together as a nation despite our travails and our bloody 30 -month fratricidal feud. Maybe. But the question is: are we truly a united nation? Are we one people? Even if the ordinary Nigerian cares neither about tongue, tribe nor creed, our rulers and politicians truly do not want us to be one people and one nation.
They beat the drums of war. Sing the songs of violence and blood, and sow seeds of hatred and discord. The language of the moment is zoning, rotation, region and the like. This can’t be the language of people who love this country. This can’t be the language of people who want the best for our country. This can’t be the language of progress. Why can’t the best man get the job to get the best job done? Why can’t we bring down the ‘Berlin’ wall of ethnic colouration of politics?
Why can’t we judge a man by the content of his character, the soundness of his judgement, the sharpness of his mind and the integrity of his words, other than the place of his birth? God, you blessed us with the black gold but they turned it to blood in our mouths; you blessed us with good vegetation and conducive environment to grow any kind of food, but they messed things up by not harnessing this rare potential. The result? Today, millions of your children sleep on empty stomachs ; thousands of infants are dying of malnutrition and other preventable infant diseases.
The only people who are not feeling any pangs are the privileged few in the corridors of power and their hangers on. Not the ordinary Nigerian. Not the masses. God, you blessed us with brilliant citizens. But we can’t harness their talents for the progress and overall development of our country. The result: most of our best brains and capable hands have all fled to Europe and the United States of America where their worth is recognised and their intellectual acumen are deployed to make those societies the envy of all. In America , our citizens are to be found in intellectually and scientifically challenging endeavours: medicine, space engineering, amongst others. Even those who have decided to stay back to contribute their quota to the development of this country are daily frustrated.
They are either owed months of salaries that are in actual fact not living wages or underemployed. Oh God, you know that a large number of your creation in our country live below the poverty line; millions of others have no jobs; young Nigerians graduate from school without jobs and with no hope of securing any. At this moment, our country has the shameful record of producing the 16th set of graduating students who roam the streets without any means of livelihood. Yet, over 70percent of your children, our people, live on less than 65cents daily. Indeed, the above are all notorious facts about our country, the country you gave all, but ruined all through inept leadership, through backward policies that only ended up impoverishing the vast majority. Our successive leaders have only ended up outdoing their predecessors in infamy and larceny.
We have not only been recycling bad leaders, we have also produced more brutal rogues with each new leadership. God, many times our people have had cause to ask in frustration if you have not forsaken our land? And if you haven’t, why do you allow the bad rulers get to power, stay long and misrule your people? This is not an attempt at blasphemy. No man can query God or His motives. God knows best. God knows why. Dear Father, our cry for purposeful leadership should by now have flooded your blessed throne. We can’t wait for you to turn our tears to laughter; our waste to wealth; our frustration to hope. These we have prayed just as we receive your answer to our prayers. Amen and amen. Happy new year, fellow Nigerians.
… 2013: ‘death, thou shalt die’
John Donne, the English metaphysical poet, was right on target when he prophetically proclaimed the death of death in one of his more famous poems, ‘Death Be Not Proud.’ Donne was mourning the harvest of deaths in his clime and time and decided to poke fun at the grim reaper. ‘Even though some have called thee mighty, thou hath not so,’ he jabbed. ‘For those whom thou thinketh thou hath killed die not, poor death.’ The dead, argued Donne, only transited to a better, more peaceful abode.
They only yielded their mortality for immortality. He is right. The dead ascend to a higher pedestal, say the scriptures. But death is no respecter of persons, not even Donne the poet who wrote, ‘death, thou shalt die.’ Death killed Donne despite his denunciations. Poor Donne. Death has often being man’s greatest scourge from the beginning of time. Death, what can man do about it? Death is the end of every beginning. But death is not the end of life. It is the beginning of another life.
I am writing about life and death in today’s column for two reasons. In less than 24 hours from now, the year 2012 will go into extinction, and from the ashes of the old, a brand new year, 2013 will be born. Secondly, 2012 the year about to die was Nigeria’s most tragic year, the year of deaths. Death on the roads, death in the air, death in fire explosions, death everywhere.
I don’t think we have ever had a more deadly year than the one which dies in a few hours thence. 2012, the year of the Dana plane crash which crashed the lives of over 160 Nigerians; 2012, the year of the chopper crashes, killing a serving police chief, John Haruna; Gen. Azazi, Gov. Yakowa, and their aides. The year Gov. Suntai’s plane crashed, sending him out of the scene. 2012, the year of Gov. Idris Wada’s auto crash. A ghastly accident which took away his namesake and former ADC, Idris.
What a way to end a year for the governor who must be full of thanks to God for saving his life, and sadness for the loss of his dutiful aide. 2012 was not an entertaining year for the entertainment industry. It brought sorrow and tears to Nollywood. So many fine artistes died with their arts. They died of one ailment or the other. Oh, death, be not proud.
Death should be ashamed of the embarrassment it brought to our nation in 2012. As the year dies, this is the time to pray to God to send the angel of death out of our land in 2013. In 2013, death, thou shalt be no more; death, thou shalt die, in the words of Donne. Death shalt not find our country. Death shalt be far from our land. A new year, a new nation, a new people filled with hope of a new, more fulfilling life. That’s not too much for God to do in our land.