Nigeria, My Country!

By Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu

The last Prophet that the nation of Israel had in Luke 19:41-44; came to the climax of his ministry and began to weep over Jerusalem. Part of his anguish was that Jerusalem lacked the consciousness and awareness to determine the time of her visitation. Jesus did not lament over Jerusalem because they would kill him, or because it had killed the prophets before him.

He lamented because it had not been faithful to the covenant that made it a holy city. Pope Leo the Great, reflecting on this same passage, is thought to have said: “In his humanity, Jesus wept for Lazarus; in his divinity, he raised him from the dead.” On March 2, a second day after the 2023 Presidential Election Result was announced, the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, addressed Nigeria and the International Community in a Press Conference. And Peter Obi wept! He wept for Nigeria.

He wept about the political class, the elites and the lives of the common citizens in Nigeria. Peter Obi had power to do many things but he recalled that he is ‘Obi-dient’ and was advised to go to court. What made Peter Obi to weep may not be discernible to an average or common citizens. It is deep; not just an emotional outburst.

Describing Nigeria as at this point in time appears to be difficult. Not really that I don’t know what Nigeria has, did or would do but Nigeria is bastardized. All the legitimate privileges given to citizens as children of a mother country have been denied Nigerians. Nigeria is not weeping as many would announce but her children are weeping, mourning and dying.

The various government institutions, agencies and parastatals are completely comatose and non-functional. I would have preferred to be talking about Nigeria, as an immigrant in another country because that is what actually happens in Nigeria.

Many people who criticize the government and policies in Nigeria, do so from outside the country. The reason is best known to you and I. One of them was kidnapped and brought to Nigeria through an extraordinary rendition.

For the past eight years in Nigeria, the cord that united the country as one was broken and cut off. The federal character principle was grossly neglected and no one ever protested. The only thing we could see was social media posts which the officials of government treated as stunts. At a point, Twitter was banned for seven months. It is hard to talk about the entity called ‘Nigeria’ and be free from blame.

The standard of living and the cost of living in Nigeria is beyond cost. Killing, maiming, kidnapping, inflation, cash crunch, hardship and what have you; overwhelmed the citizens. Some youths took to the streets for protest and so many were killed. Patience, as a virtue is what Nigerians possessed. They waited for the end of an era. Everyone waited patiently for Feb. 25, 2023 to speak with their votes not knowing that there is already an institutional decay in every sector.

Societies develop social structures or institutions, that persist because they play a part in helping society survive. These institutions include the family, education, government, religion and the economy. National institutions in Nigeria as NYSC, Unity Schools, Federal Character and Quota system, Sports and Cultural Festivals, or Common Laws have completely lost relevance and impact. Now, institutional failure has become globally scandalous and disheartening to Nigerians, and also threatening the corporate existence of the Nigerian state.

INEC was to spend ₦355 billion for the 2023 Elections. INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, says the proposed ₦305 billion is different from the ₦40 billion yearly budget of the electoral body. Huge amount of tax payers’ money is annually invested in INEC to assist them in carrying out their duties but it doesn’t seem to be serving Nigerians.

The APC Government scored very poor in Social Development Goals as it concerns governance. Then, APC chose a candidate whose turn it is to rule Nigeria whether the people like it or not. Despite the outcry, they still selected a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Everything about APC did not go down well with Nigeria. Sadly, APC is being forced down  the throat of Nigerians whether they voted for them or not. Nigerians have cried, prayed and voted but desperation in the life of a man showed that there is ‘Powers that be’ which can do what God may not do for Nigerians.

As Nigerians maintain peace, calm and pray for a smooth transition to a new government, they know too well that history has never been on the side of despots nor power hungry individuals. Some who were driven to frenzy because of wealth and connection in the ‘high places’ died miserable deaths.

A propaganda that started in 2017 concerning the death of President Muhammadu Buhari might not be an ordinary fanfare. Wicked people wish that their enemies should die but I wonder why someone would wish an accomplished national leader dead? But in the History of Nigeria, disaster, calamity, jeopardy and hardship have never befallen the citizens of Nigeria as in the APC Government at the federal level. As a student in the junior secondary, I witnessed the Military Regime of General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984.

Now, as a father of children, I am experiencing the hardship caused by a military leader in democratic government. If God had not retired some of our past military heads of state and governors by giving them critical health condition; most of them would still be gunning for elective political posts or bring in their candidates to be supported today. President Muhammadu Buhari has travelled out of Nigeria a total of 51 times since assuming office in 2015. Some of these travels are not for diplomatic ties/interests but are mainly for his debilitating health condition. And Nigerians know that not so much has improved in Nigeria since 2015 other than the health of Mr. President.

Nigerians should be undeterred in their quest to take back Nigeria. The journey has just begun. We should not be distracted nor intimidated. The labour of our past heroes cannot be in vain. Every nation on earth will always have a decisive moment in their History. We would not rest until the right thing is done. Everyday Nigerians are seen clustering in banks and some come to the banks as early as 5a.m.

And many go home without getting any cash. In the context of material/financial possessions, poverty is said to exist when people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. The APC Government has made every Nigerian virtually poor while they and their cronies live in abundance. The interest rate as it is, is being increased periodically and an exorbitant interest rate on loans is an oppression geared towards making many Nigerians poor.

The battle to keep Nigeria as one is the price everyone must pay. Every patriotic and well-meaning Nigerian is horrified by the Presidential Election Result announced by INEC. The Nigerian factor is a situation whereby anything is possible, especially against the rule of law provided you have someone at the corridors of power. That is the narrative Nigerians want to change by voting for a new Nigeria.

As March 11 draws near, we encourage Nigerians not to get frustrated, otherwise, the enemies of our country would rejoice. Get your PVC and be ready to vote again for the right candidate. The confident crisis experienced in INEC will not stop our resolve to get a new Nigeria.

Compatriots! Let us not lose hope and all our effort will be in vain. Let us rise up again and defend our nation. A group of people is holding Nigeria hostage. Call them politicians, call them ethnic, call them tribal or even call them elites; you may be right. A sect is playing ‘god’ in Nigeria. The lives of ordinary Nigerians do not matter to them. The security, economy, finance and governance are in their hands and they do with it whatever pleases them.

No matter what comes against us, no matter what bombards us, no matter the pressure we are going through; and no matter how hopeless the situation is, the warfare is to stand, come out and vote on the 11th of March. No matter how impossible it looks, just believe that a new Nigeria is PO-ssible. Your part is to come out and vote.

Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu writes from Trade Fair Complex, ASPMDA, Ojo – Lagos