Escapism and The Revolution That Has Refused To Come
The average Nigerian is tired of being tired of Nigeria, so they are exploiting escape routes from their everyday unwholesome Nigerian realities. You can safely put your last naira on a bet that every other person reading these words knows someone or is possibly that someone who has been abroad — mostly, the United States — to have their wives give birth to their children. There is the consideration of a much better delivery process based on the vast difference between the health facilities between Nigeria and the US but we know the primary motivation, at least in most of the cases, is to have children with one of the most powerful passports in the world, the US’ passport.
This is a form of escapism from the limitations of the Nigerian passport that has since become popular, acceptable and normal. If you are a regular traveller with the Nigerian passport, I am sure you’d have an appreciation for why people do this. If you are not a regular traveler, simply because your visa applications have been denied over and again, I bet you’d even have a slightly higher understanding for why anyone would try to avoid the limitations of the Nigerian passport for their children. This reality of the Nigerian passport is a microcosm of the general Nigerian reality.
Every year, someone continues to say something like, “A revolution is coming soon in this country!” but is it true? A man who won one of our freest and fairest elections was killed in prison 19 years ago, there was no revolution. A cabal held the nation to ransom for weeks, as the country stayed without a president and an acting president, there was no revolution. We saw the fuel subsidy rogues take Nigeria from 20 private jets in 2007 to some 150 private jets by 2012, was there a revolution? Even when we saw from probes and panels that some of these folks actually simply just collected billions and pocketed the same, with their names out in the open, what did we do? The then Governor of the Central Bank said $20bn of the national wealth could not be accounted for, did we as a collective break any sweat? Are we really going to say that we have not experienced at least three big issues that should have forced us into a revolution since the advent of this our type of democracy? So, why hasn’t there been a revolution?
A revolution happens when the masses of the people collectively come to an agreement that “enough is enough!” We had a semblance of this in 2010 when protests forced the “Doctrine of necessity,” that made then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan the Acting President. We also got a semblance in January 2012 when Nigerians insisted oil thieves should be served the punishment for their crimes before the burden of such crimes were transferred to Nigerians via increased fuel prices but we have never really had that sustained agreement on a common mission to force a wholesome change for our country. We tried in 2015 with the elections but years on, I doubt if anyone needs to be told that the change we craved was actually different from the change the political class chanted and got. If you expect a revolution in Nigeria, it means you haven’t really sat down to think Nigeria through.
The average Nigerian has as a matter of fact gone from seeking the better for Nigeria, to living to simply fend for him or herself by looking to escape the consequences of the Nigerian tragedy as much as possible. That “better” is a situation that’d affect the average Nigerian and lift most of our people out of poverty, change the reality of our schools to genuine institutions of learning, revolutionise our health system thereby ensuring all the oil dollars we get from India don’t return to India via medical tourism; make our sports world class and profitable and indeed improve our Human Development Index. Who bothers about campaigning for improved primary school systems when they can simply put their kids in private schools? Who cares about dilapidating infrastructure in secondary schools when you can always enrol your kids in private secondary schools? Nigerians even now send their children to secondary schools in Ghana and our almighty gigantic neighbour, Benin Republic. There is no need to talk about the universities, most of those who are attending Nigerian universities do so because they cannot afford the private schools or could not get scholarships or the opportunity to attend foreign ones. Some of the popular foreign ones are not in the United Kingdom or the usual America; just go to Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Niger, Ghana…Nigerian students form the bulk of their “International Students.”
The less said about the health system, the better. Is there a collective demand for a much better health system? If there is, one must be deaf, because I have heard none of it. What I have seen is the unending trips to India, Europe and America for medical vacations by the rich and powerful; those not so privileged use the private hospitals. Those who are left to use the public health systems battle one another for the scarce resources, doctors and nurses that even if they wanted to, they’d have no energy left to task the government to do better here.
Those who still see the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man have certainly not been to our prisons; they are full of common men and women who have been imprisoned for years without trial — mostly forgotten and left for dead. We have become obsessed about the so-called “rule of law” we are willing to suspend our common sense in vain arguments. The rule of law says the kingpin of kidnappers Evans remains “innocent” despite having confessed to several criminal offenses. Common sense of course refuses to dance to such insanity. Few Nigerians would be shocked if Evans does not get convicted. Like Prof. Lucky Akaruese said at the just concluded Feast of Barracuda organised by the National Association of Seadogs and I paraphrase, we have sacrificed the ‘rule of Justice’ on the altar of the ‘rule of Law.’ This needs no explanation, if you have been paying attention to some of the rulings from our courts, you’d probably be able to argue that the technicality of the law was applied but whether justice often prevailed in such situations remains a matter that has left many Nigerians who crave for Justice wailing like Efe Paul Azino, “Justice has been kidnapped in my country.”
If Justice has been kidnapped, may be our voices too. We have stopped asking for a better country; we are simply existing to escape its realities and consequences; we want to hit it big, that is, “I want to blow!” We want to relocate for good. We want to buy houses in Ghana if we can’t afford the flats in Dubai, London and South Africa. We can always raise our fences or pay the police monthly for extra security. In the end, the political class know they can get away with virtually anything simply because we, the Nigerian people, know how to adjust ourselves to accommodate whatever gets thrown at us.
It started from living with a constitution that says, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…Having firmly and solemnly resolved, to live in unity and harmony,” when 18 years on we the people know at no time did we come together to have such an arrangement let alone have it solemnly. The rulers of our country have taken its destiny into their hands, the average Nigerian is either looking to join them at the table of their feast or looking to escape the injustice altogether. None of these will change Nigeria for the better until something gives; like a coming together of the masses of the people to demand better of their leaders but how will it happen if the divide and rule system continues to thrive? Or haven’t they firmly established the argument that we are where we are today because we aren’t meant to be one country? Such bollocks!
Brazil, China, Indonesia, South Africa etc must be having a laugh because some of them have 700 languages; some have race issues, some have more religions than we have major tribes yet those who want us to focus on anything other than development issues continue to throw the ethnic card. Must we, the people, always fall for the same trick? Aren’t we tired of being played for fools? A majority of us will not escape the consequences of Nigeria, so what is best for all of us is to demand a better country. The alternatives are dead ends.
JJ. Omojuwa is the Editor of AfricanLiberty.org and the Chief Strategist at Alpha Reach. The article was syndicated via AfricanLiberty.org