A friend read my piece on the week 2 of the National Confab (read here) and thought I, along with majority of my readers who commented, was unnecessarily hard on our dear country. He had this to say in reply:
Nigeria is only what Nigerians make it. Let us visit the legendary pages of history for a few perspectives.
Recently, a diplomat was caught with drugs (contraband) hidden in his diplomatic baggage. The first time such an incident took place, the contraband was a human being – former Transport Minister of the Second republic, Umaru Dikko, who was on exile in the UK and vocal against the Nigerian government. British Customs agents foiled an attempt to kidnap him; a crate carrying his drugged and unconscious body which was to be placed on a Lagos-bound plane as diplomatic baggage was intercepted. A full-grown man became commodity for import and export.
On the 26th of October 1993, our history told the tale of four daredevil Nigerian youths who hijacked a plane with the strangest weapons arsenal ever wielded – cutlery; forks and knives. The plane which took off from Lagos was bound for Abuja until the ‘dine’jackers diverted it to Niger Republic. They freed some hostages one of whom was the Chinese vice-president, and made political demands, threatening to burn the plane with the remaining hostages trapped inside. Top on their list of demands was the resignation of the then-military government and prompt hand-over to MKO Abiola, the duly elected democratic leader.
Still in our history, more than 8000 Nigerians were killed in only four days? This was in the 1980s courtesy of a banned extremist Islamic religious sect that claimed as its prophet, the late Muhammadu Marwa Maitatsine. The late Maitatsine had had the Koran fully rewritten, the only change being a swap of the Prophet Mohammed’s name for his. This daredevil sect was led by a Cameroonian exiled twice from our lands who returned stronger each time. He boasted of having an armory larger than the combined horde of the Nigerian police and army. Unfortunately for the later victims of his chaos, he wasn’t bluffing. By the time of the uprising, he had over 3000 followers whereas the entire Nigerian police could hardly boast of a hundred thousand men. His movement had the same ideology as Boko Haram’s ‘westernization is evil’ but given the era in which he ‘reigned’ and the evils he perpetuated, Boko Haram’s Shekau is a mere kid in comparison. Right now, his cremated remains are stored in a bottle at the Kano state police museum.
Nigeria! A country of history as deep as the Nile and sturdy as the Kilimanjaro! A country where five young majors risked everything they had for an ideal they believed in. How many of us can make such an ultimate sacrifice now? Imagine how much courage they needed to take on the audacious task of slaying their erring military masters. ‘The five majors’ lived in a time when men were judged, not by the size of their pockets, but by the tenacity of their courage to believe and sacrifice all for that belief. They paid the ultimate price too – one was tortured until he begged for death; another was dragged out of prison, brutalized and eventually buried alive; a third was ambushed and killed; a fourth was killed for supposedly betraying the Biafran people during the Civil war; the fifth Major survived to tell their story. Where on this lands could such raw courage ever be found in these times? Our five majors, I bless your memory and souls wherever you are.
It is in this same Nigeria that a woman stood up and singularly fought mighty cabals down to their skinned knees. Perhaps I concluded too early in the lines above, because this human, very human and Nigerian woman doggedly survived plots upon plots, and assassination attempts while holding on tenaciously to her God and a belief in rightness. They tried to bribe her, maim her, shoot her, bomb her, just so they could continue to peddle poisonous medications to fellow countrymen. But she refused. Professor Dora Akunyili, as you sit on the floor of that hall serving your country once again in the National Conference, hear this prayer – God will never forsake you!
From the earth of this same country, Nigeria, a great mind sprang up, challenged status quo and carved a niche for himself in the literary world. Telling our story in OUR way to the world, he created cultural dynasties and a rich heritage from the ashes of fading memories. Steadfast till the end, he did not leave this world before gifting us with a final historical treasure – an outstanding book, the ultimate elder’s blessing. Chinu’ba’lumogu Achebe, you shall forever be remembered.
I tell you, ours is a solid country. We single-handedly quelled two civil wars in two neighboring African nations with our formidable military might. We consistently produced and still produce the best brains and hands, the richest black man and woman on earth, the super-creative, super-talented and super-beautiful people. I tell you, Nigeria shall live again!
Its new life will begin with our generation, the generation of the now. Many times we fail to appreciate it but we have been strategically positioned to learn from the mistakes of the past and witness first-hand the promising potentials of a better future. True, we’ve been failed but so was China, France, USA and just about every other world power. New horizons, we must realize, open with great reluctance.
Complaining tirelessly about Nigeria changes nothing, except maybe your blood pressure. It wastes your time, energy and dreams AND leaves you with the same problem. “Nigeria is bad!” As my grandma would say – “So? Should I remove my clothes and dance in the marketplace upside down?” WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, ARE YOU DOING, WILL YOU DO ABOUT IT?
We only hear and delight in spreading horrible news about our country whereas there are so many great things happening as well. How many people heard when two young boys invented a pilot rocket in little ‘backyard’ Owerri? How many heard when a taxi man returned a bag forgotten by a passenger in his cab, with the laptop and 5000 US Dollars intact? Who heard that only last month, Nigerians in the US were rated most industrious of that first-rate economy? Or that UNN just graduated about 44 first class students?
There are so many good things happening around us. Dwelling on the good will attract more goodwill to us, the power of which could then be channeled into tackling the wrongs. On the other hand, an intensely myopic concentration on the wrongs – as is characteristic of our present society – will only drag us deeper into the quicksand of misfortune. It’s The Universal Law of Attraction.
The western countries we always – again intensely myopically – praise for all and everything have their problems as well. But they tackle all of this very effectively because they have armed themselves with goodwill generated from an intense love and appreciation of country among the citizens. We can do this with our dear Nigeria also, we MUST do this because run where you may, home will always be home.
It takes one to teach one. Spread the word. Don’t be deterred. Preach our history to our children, tell our stories to the young so that when they have grown, it will never depart from them. Change your orientation, let us become the real Nigeria, the one heroes fought and died to preserve. The Nigeria I am advocating is one whose classrooms you could walk into and ask the boisterous boys and girls “where are you from?” They will answer “Nigeria”. Not Igbo, or Yoruba or Hausa or Gwagi or Ibibio or Fulani, but Nigeria.
That day will come. Let posterity bear me witness, it will happen. You only have to decide if you are willing to be a part of it.
I rest my case. God bless The National Conference. God bless our future. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
By: Akaeze Emmanuel L.
Emmanuel is an avid reader, a creative writer, historian and public speaker, a Process Engineer by profession, Business Analyst by occupation. Still single, he lives and works in Abuja. His life philosophy implores you to “Change the way you think, change your life”
what do you think though?