Alpha point…

Every day – for house
Every day – for road
Every day – for bus
Every day – for work

My people my people my people
Every day my people inside bus
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Forty-nine sitting forty-nine standing
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go pack themselves in like sardine
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them dey faint, them dey wake like cock
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go reach house water no dey
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go reach bed power no dey
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go reach road go-slow go come
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go reach road police go slap
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go reach road army go whip
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Them go look pocket money no dey
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling
Every day na the same thing
CHORUS: Suffering and smiling…

Fela: Source: Pineinterest

The above is only a portion of the song Fela sang many years ago. In his hay days, many thought the Afro beat musician was crazy (he did make us believe he was). But it turned out he was one among the few genuine prophets we ever had.

Bishop Kukah once told us that a prophet is one who adequately reads the signs of the times and makes projections into the future based on those readings. If I see a man getting drunk, only to see him get into his car later in the day, I can adequately predict he’ll have a crash, simple!

Fela was such a prophet. When many preferred to be silent, the ‘crazy’ man took to the stage (the only pulpit he had) and spoke truth that was hard to hear even from ‘real’ pulpits and lecterns. Yes! He was unwavering and unequivocal. He named names and challenged oppressive regimes. He lived and died for the truth. That much we can all attest to.

Where are the prophets?

Today, after several years, we have not gotten any better. Oh, sorry; we’ve gotten worse, much worse. As Nigerians, perhaps what we know how to do best is complain (that’s exactly what I’m doing right now). But how I wish our complaints would become action.

On October 1, 2015, which was the 55th of our independence as a Nation, I listened to Pius Adesanmi (God rest his gentle soul), professor of Literature and African studies at Carlton University, Ottawa Canada, as he talked about the state of the Nation on the ‘Platform’ . I couldn’t agree more when he said we must learn to HATE mediocrity (you should probably read up his article on the “parable of the shower head”).

We have become a people comfortable with corruption. Yes! Whether we like it or not, we celebrate mediocrity in its many ramifications. “It’s a Nigerian phenomenon”, we say. It’s genetic. It’s hereditary. As a matter of fact, it’s fast becoming innate. Where are the prophets? Where are those who should cry from the rooftops? What happened to them all? Maybe I should ask differently. What has happened to us all?

We must all become prophets…

On that same independence day, Bishop Kukah did say that there is something in the Nigerian system that corrupts even the greatest people of integrity. Yes. If a very corrupt Nigerian becomes a US President for instance, chances are that he would find it very difficult to express corruption in office. The system would simply make corruption impracticable for him. But if we were to bring a very good American gentleman to become President in Nigeria, we’re not too sure if he won’t become corrupt even without realising it.

In other words, a people deserve the government they get. We can complain all we want, but if we don’t learn to hold our government accountable, we’ll continue to be a ‘shuffering and shmiling’ people. We don’t only need strong men and women, we also need stronger institutions.

The state of the nation…

Some years ago, I tried to get to Port Harcourt from Obehie, Abia State. To say that the experience was hellish would be an understatement. The road was so bad (it’s a Federal Road by the way) one would have needed an armoured tank to navigate effectively through the gullies and ridges. We continued driving till we met a total grid lock at Oyigbo. I needed to get to Port Harcourt before 4pm, since I intended to make a bank transaction. But after several hours at the grid lock, I had to abandon my car. Then I joined a couple of other Nigerians as we trekked for well over thirty minutes before getting a cab that took us to First Artillery in Port Harcourt.

What was most annoying was that there was no anger on the faces of the many Nigerians that had to trek the long distance. They had developed shock absorbers. These were persons who had paid money to be taken to Port Harcourt. I am pretty sure they didn’t get any refunds either. To cut the long story short, it was 7:30 pm before I was able to get to the place I had abandoned my car earlier. After several hours of driving like a maniac and crawling through traffic like a maze master, I finally got home at 10:pm. I had left Obehie at midday. A journey that shouldn’t ordinarily take more than an hour took ten hours.

This is the situation everywhere. From Lagos to Benin, to Onitsha. Meanwhile, the same people who have led us to this pathetic state continue to fly around in private jets and chattered flights using tax payers’ money. They continue to be screened and approved by their cronies as they get into offices for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t even born when the military regime of the incumbent President was overthrown over corruption allegations some thirty three years ago. Where do we go from here?

Omega Point…

Friends, this country is frustrating. We have made it so. Innocent people continue to die. After fifty seven years we still don’t have food, we don’t have electricity, we don’t have pipe borne water… And if we think one man will take us to the promised land, we had better think again.

The attitude of suffering and smiling, that has almost become second nature must stop. The indifferent attitude must stop. The ‘business as usual mentality’ must stop. We must say no to corrupt and wasteful governance. The right time is NOW.

And for those who have been saying that young people should take over governance, who exactly are these young people. Kenyan Prof., Patrice Lumumba, once said that many of our young people today are waiting for an opportunity to be equally corrupt. As Ayi Kwei Ama said many years ago “the beautyful ones are not yet born”. It turns out that after many years, the only thing we have is the evergreen prophecy of the INSANE NAKED MAN.

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2015. Revised 2017. All rights reserved.