I write to introduce myself and my column to you. I will be on this platform every Tuesday to attempt to represent your conscience. The dysfunction in Nigeria overwhelms all of us and most have been shamed into silence. Fortunately, the love of country and the lure of pragmatism has refused to shame some of us into distorting the truth and abandoning our values. I will write here because I am disillusioned. I am disillusioned about Nigeria’s politics, economy, education, health etc. I write to engage in the chores of my moral imagination. I strongly believe it is not enough to learn and think, I stay desperate, actually I stay angry because the mix of stasis and confusion in Nigeria is disabling. I stay hungry and driven because I consider myself very privileged and privilege ought to count for some good. The pendulum could have swung the other way and I would have been voiceless. Learning has enabled me break through the gauzy lens of ignorance. Intellectual honesty has left me no choice but to conclude that our politics, institutions, national character, economy, health, education among others are a charade. Actually they have become amorphous and socially pernicious.
For these reasons, I have chosen to change Nigeria with my pen, my conscience and my mouth. On your behalf I will question the orthodoxy of repression, oppression and wanton stealing. With you in mind, I will wrestle the narrative from those who seek to distort our values, pollute our space and rubbish our humanity. This column will inform, educate and debate the issues confronting us as a people.
I’m here in the public sphere because you and I seek to know. I know you want a narrative communion with the truth, in an equitable and just society where your fundamental rights are guaranteed and protected by law. I will be on this page as your representative in protest, I will stand to affirm and write when we stink up the world. I will write that we are killing this country with our separateness. We are killing this country with impropriety. We are killing our culture and common humanity with unwholesome adaptation to foreignness. I will write because I’m worried about progressive ambivalence to imperialism, competitiveness and patriotism. That we refuse to get a grip on this envelope of repression gets me. I want to point it out and make it clear that we must put down and annihilate the usurpation of our joint patrimony by a greedy few. The pertinent question to me always is: is it in line with our common goals and values?
We have been robbed. After getting robbed, we are imprisoned. And who robbed us? The cheap cons of Asokoro, Maitama, Ikoyi etc continually rob us of our joint patrimony only to turn around and flaunt it mostly to our delight. In their Gulfstreams, they flood the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, the choice properties of the British Isles and the Potomac while we pray for our own miracle to come, so we can take turns to “chop”. I’m ashamed my country of birth screwed my generation and those after us over, robbed us of our dignity, condemned us to a life of scraping by, begging and swindling and selling ourselves. I am angry that we are held hostage by a band of grafters, oil thieves and political Mafiosi, the bad news is the increasing ability to insult us while at it. These are the kind of things that gets my goat. It gets me because we bred and raised these cons. Garden-variety criminals do not appear out of nowhere. They are raised in families and societies that preach the gospel of hate, fear, distrust, quick fixes and intolerance.
I feel sorry for us as a people. We are adrift, a victim of our own greed, and apathy. In the last six months, bare chested thugs whose achievements in life are pipeline vandalism, kidnap of oil workers and expatriates, destruction of oil platforms have started singing the songs of war. The loony madcaps have become warlords and are getting paid for economic sabotage. The message to the youth is now very clear, embark on sanctified government-approved grifting and you shall be rewarded. Suddenly, a great resume in Nigeria includes expertise in murder, gun running, time in prison, oil theft, domestic terrorism, religious and ethnic bigotry among others. Every Tuesday, I will ask our leaders questions about the state of our country, I will call them out and hold them to account. In Nigeria, there is no single defining morality. Everybody is a criminal here, it is only a question of high crimes or misdemeanors. I have not given up, I believe we can change course, we should and we will.
This is not all about our leaders, it is also about you. How have you held up your side of the bargain? Are you alive to your civic responsibilities? When you drive on the curb and constitute a menace to the driving public, who is responsible? When you show up at work by noon and disappear by 2 p.m. from your desk, is the government responsible for that? Is the government to be blamed when you paid fifty thousand Naira to register your child at a special center where professionals help them answer WASCE and UTME questions? We have lost our way and we must all be involved in self-introspection. You too will be held to account.
See you next Tuesday, right here.
Kindly follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo
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