I remember a time in the not too distant past but which now seems like aeons ago, when I used to follow religiously, the Mexican soap operas at the time they re-invaded our country. That was the time I also almost never missed any episode of Super Story and so many other Nigerian soap operas. The remarkable thing about that time for me was not just that I followed all those soap operas really religiously, it was that I was able to watch them almost without a miss of any episode in the absence of an electricity generator; something that is today a total impossibility. Now, I have virtually lost complete interest in watching TV because my ear drums got tired of the noise of the generators all around winning every single competition with the volume of the TV, the only program I make an exception for is however Who Wants To Be A Millionaire which I usually do not like to miss.
I remember thinking sometimes in 2010 when a friend and colleague told me that they didn’t have a generator in their office, that her boss must be so out of touch with reality that he’s got to be downright mad! That’s how bad things have become with the power situation in my dear country.
I remember in 2004 when I had to travel to Edo State for a friend’s wedding that though the Benin-Ore road was not that good, I, along with my co-travellers did not at least have to sleep on the road as is the situation today due to the criminal and horrible state of the road which not only boosts the business of armed robbers but which through accidents has sent more people than I think it’s healthy for me to think about to their untimely death.
I remember a time also in the not too distant past when it was a “status symbol” thing for parents to send their children to private schools. Now, especially with our servant-rulers being the proprietors of most of the very expensive and very private schools, any parent that wants any meaningful kind of education for his/her child has to look for money that he/she probably doesn’t have, to give the child a fighting chance among his/her peers. The saddest thing of all? No, it’s not that parents have to work all hours and abandon their children to their devices in order to give them a decent standard of life, though that is unbearable enough, the saddest thing is that in spite of the huge school fees being coughed out by parents, the outcome still leave a lot to be desired. The results of externally-conducted examinations have not shown any marked demarcation between those students in private schools and those in the public schools deliberately killed by our governments.
I see all around me the near-total absence of infrastructures and I have to buy a litre of kerosene that is supposed to be used mainly by the poor masses at N130.
Yet, I see the people who are supposed to be our servants moving in convoys of 10/15 cars, pushing us the people who are supposed to be the custodian of the nation’s power off the road, and beating and incarcerating those bold or foolish enough to hesitate to race into the bush so our servants can pass on the road without having to see for too long the total collapse and virtual absence of infrastructures or endure the bad traffic that our bad roads make us suffer.
I see that these “servants” of ours travel out of the country at every opportunity, enjoy the good roads, well-equipped hospitals, beautiful sceneries and great infrastructures that those countries have to offer and return to this country without the slightest wish to replicate all those things they enjoy so much abroad here.
I get alarmed when I remember that kidnappings which started as an “expatriate thing” in the Niger-Delta (Nigerians were safe, so no need to worry) has not only extended to rich Nigerians, it has also been extended to the families and friends of those of us who are still trying to find our feet in the society.
I get even more alarmed when I think of the poor children being born today who might never know what it is to have a normal and quiet environment. For people who live in flats and their own apartments, it is bad enough, for those who live in the “face me I face you” apartments in which every room in the 13 or 15-room apartment has its own “I better pass my neighbour”, it is absolutely unbearable!
I get alarmed and really sad when I remember and think of all those reports in the papers about families who die overnight due to poisoning from the inhalation of generator fumes.
Yet, it appears that I am one of the very few people in my dear 150- million strong country bothered by all these things I have mentioned above, and so much more that my desire not to bore you will not allow me to mention here. It is apparent that my people are really happy with the way this potentially (how I wish I can stop using that word in relation to my country!) great country is.
No doubt, this country has never been more prosperous than now in terms of its oil earnings, yet, its people have never been more impoverished in terms of the value (or lack of it) being added to (or taken from) their lives by people who control this oil wealth.
I have no doubt that it is not normal for the people who are supposed to be serving us to prefer setting a record for having contracted out the biggest cake in the world for our country’s 50th Anniversary when people die daily on the accidents we call roads, nor can it be right for these people to keep awarding themselves obscenely high allowances and estacodes when the work force earn the lowest salary in the commonwealth.
I have no doubt that it is not normal that a lot of our youths who were gainfully self-employed have found themselves becoming okada riders because they cannot afford the suicidal cost of running their business on electricity generators.
What saddens and alarms me most is that my people have become so used to the abnormal situations in this country that they have actually settled down to start enjoying it, they have in fact, become quite happy with seeing innocent children being deafened by the noise of generators, they have become very happy with seeing criminals who plunder the treasury of this country not only getting away with murders (literally) but also with those criminals being celebrated and declared as the heroes of their face for the new youths. They are very happy at having to shout in their rooms to make themselves heard over the noise of the generators, they are deliriously happy that Nigeria wins the top position easily in the most negative of things like having the highest figure for maternal mortality and stillbirths. They are really happy at having to invest huge amount of money on inverters and so many other similar inferior quality china products.
My people are in short so happy that they have no desire whatsoever for any change. And why should they desire any change? They are, after all, very happy! So much so that they have international recognition and acknowledgment of their happiness to back it up! Please, by no means change a happy people!
I however will love if you, who are reading this, can humour me and allow me to say this; as we all go out to vote on Saturday the 16th of April 2011, let us vote with the realisation that whoever we each vote for, whoever wins this election (by truly fair means), we would have, by our votes, sent a message; either for a desire for more neglect of our social infrastructures and continued creation of a monster which will then have the belief that it can continue to ride rough-shod over us, or for a message to show that we have the power in our thumbs to send any group or person who is either incompetent or unwilling to better our lives packing and are willing and ready to send each new successive group of people packing until we are able to get the message across that politicians should no longer take us for granted and until we get people who are ready to turn the potentialities of this country into actualities.
The choice is ours to make, I only hope before making our choice, we’ll pause to ask ourselves the right questions and supply honest and very sincere answers. But if we want to continue being happy with the most abnormal and depressing of conditions, with having more people die needless deaths every day in our empty hospitals, with people who tell us to tighten our belts while they grow fat in the mid regions, with empty words and quickly forgotten tears on the Benin-Ore road, well, what else can I say but, good luck!