By Mercy Okoye

In the 16th century, the Uk had suffered series of civil wars, also known as the Great Rebellion (1638-1651). This was a war for power between the three kingdoms – England, Wales, Scotland. England also found herself in the grip of the ‘Gin age’. Gin was being distilled in one of every four homes in London, and it was sold openly in the streets.

Drunkenness and depravity had taken over, Parliament had to adjourn on frequent occasions because its members were too intoxicated to conduct the affairs of state. Unbelievable, right? Infantry death was also on the increase, children suffered cruel treatment and nearly 75% died before their fifth birthday.

Living conditions were harsh, drunken parents would abandon or sell their children in order to feed their addiction. (I am not writing to bore you with the history of England. Stay with me, I’m heading somewhere).

As though they hadn’t had enough trouble, the Uk economy was further hit by the Great Depression in the 1930s which led to higher unemployment and widespread poverty. The 1920s were not spared from economic hardship either, it was also a decade of economic stagnation.

But looking at the Uk today, focusing on England, one would hardly believe that there was ever a time they went through such grievous level of hardship and commotion as a country, same with every other country of the world which has had their own fair share of struggles and unimaginable hardships but today are doing just fine.

Today in Nigeria, an average Nigerian citizen is faced with strings of hardship from different areas; for graduates – no jobs! You try to be an entrepreneur, government frustrates it with unfavourable policies; insecurity (killings and kidnapping seem to have become a regular business that has come to stay.

People are no longer alarmed when they hear things like 20 students kidnapped in Kaduna state or massive slaughter by herdsmen in Ebonyi. People are no longer safe, even in their own homes!); what we have is nothing but a greedy, selfish and tyrannical government; hatred, tribalism and religion seem to have taken over love and humanity; our resources wasted in outrageous and inconsequential budgets; white men have taken over contracts that ought to be awarded to citizens; our education system is whacked and nothing is done about it! Poor power supply; degenerated health system; emphasis is laid on import rather than exports.

They make laws that favour only the rich and not the poor, laws that favour a particular ethnic group and disfavour others – they impose open grazing on us and legislators sit down to make laws about cows. I am so embarrassed for my country! No freedom of expression.

You talk too much and they place a ban on twitter; go on peaceful protest – they command a shoot on sight and have the boldness to deny it; or is it the outrageous hike in prices of basic needs as food, accommodation, education.

Our youth have gone crazy with the Yahoo menace, abusing their cerebral prowess and creativity or should I say, instead, that they have embraced diabolism; our ladies have chosen the easy way out -prostitution.

Our teenagers and children are on the streets hustling and becoming the touts that will haunt us in years to come if nothing is done about it. Get-Rich-Quick Anthem is the new anthem. Not to mention the extreme moral decay and values, even to the point that our children now eat the forbidden fruit. Chai!

Indeed, this is a trying time for Nigerians! Our eyes have seen much evil and ridicule from the government and our own selves! Who can deliver us from this mess, air of hopelessness and fear? But then, how about we look at all of this from a bright side. Just like a coin has two sides, so does every adversity in life. Hold on. Don’t roll your eyes yet. Am I trying to justify evil? No way! But let’s view it from another angle.

There is a purpose to every adversity. The great philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. Job’s best years in life were preceded by moments of torture and pain. My point is, out of every bad situation, there always comes a good thing. As with a pregnant woman who has to first go through series of pains before putting to birth, I would say that Nigeria as a country is on the verge of birthing forth her revolution. This is the light!

Though many Nigerians may have expressed their pessimism about Nigeria getting better, I beg to disagree that. I strongly believe in the comforting hands of hope. Just like England, just like the Israelites in the scripture after enduring years of much torment and ridicule from the Egyptians, made it to their Promised Land, we will get to our Promised Land and get out of this mess! I know this may sound impossible and like a cliché, but it’s true.

Who doesn’t have problems in life? Even in our personal lives, there are days we hit the rock and yet get up again! This is an appeal not to give up on our country! These are evil and trying times for the whole world! Even the Almighty First World countries are not entirely free from the trending chaotic disorder. But they have decided to be wise by not exposing their dirty laundry in public as opposed to us, who are quick to resort to social media to sell out our country to the world. This is a culture we need to put off.

With evil at its very climax and people’s heart battered and bitten by disappointment and incessant blows of treachery from our leaders, people have lost faith in the government – patriotism has crumbled and maybe that’s understandable, but there is need for us all to turn back from this path we have journeyed on for too long and has brought our doom, both leaders and civilians.

Charity, they say, begins at home. The change we are looking for begins with us individually. You who are complaining about the tyrannical government, what about you? If you find yourself in power tomorrow, can you do any better? Would you uphold justice and not compromise? We need virtue to live right! And most importantly, we need God!

Personal development

Let me still talk a little more about the yahoo craze and get-rich-quick syndrome that has gripped our youths. Personal transformation is a great tool for national transformation. Whatever happens to re-invention? Even the scripture reinstates that the skills of a man, make way for him (proverbs18:16). Get a skill, develop yourself and be patient! Yes, add prayer then get to work. Stop taking advantage of the shortcomings of the government as an excuse for your mischief.

We must pay the price for success if we must succeed. Look within you and dig up that treasure. Your abilities, gifts, problems, opportunities around you, are a good place to start with. Keep at it even if you are being frustrated, life will eventually open up for everyone. It’s just a matter of time.

This is not a motivational gimmick, it’s a proven fact! Nigerians are killing themselves to travel out while white people are taking up space in Nigeria because they can see the hidden treasure. I am not saying it is wrong to travel out but dear friends you can still make it in Nigeria. We have the likes of the comedian, Ayo Makun, popularly called Ay, the singer Mercy Chinwo, and lots of them making great impact through their talents and skills. No doubt they all had their rough part in life and yes, paid the price for success.

Unarguably, Nigerians are amazing people! There is virtually nowhere in the world that you won’t find us. We are highly hospitable, industrious and happy people. In the midst of hardship, we still thrive! People usually joke that anywhere you go and there is no Nigerian, run for your life! Lol.

I believe this outstanding gift of adaptation is for a purpose.  Rome was not built in a day, they say. Let’s fix our country, starting with our individual self. Do your own part first and leave the rest. Learn to pray for your leaders and country. Like the powerful poet, Maya Angelou wrote, “Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise”. We will rise again!

I end with this; the world we are in is more spiritual than physical, like it or not. Underestimating the power of prayer and being ignorant or refusing to acknowledge the force of God as one of the key elements to our success is a mistake. The scripture rest assures us that God is a merciful God and when we call upon him in our days of trouble, he’ll hear and deliver us! (Ps 40:1-2).

This is the time to draw closer to God and seek his face. He loves us and is more than willing to help us. Let’s go back to the drawing board and allow the architect and owner of our lives and world to guide us and show us the way. Sometimes, God allows difficult times as a tool to draw us closer to himself.

He knows the deep secrets, you can ask him for direction if you are confused and lost (Jer 33:3). More so, we should live our lives as one who would give account to his owner (God) when we are finally gone. (Ecc 11:9)). However you deem fit, live your life but know for certain that you’ll one day give account to your owner.

Food for thought: “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).