‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…’
Julius Caesar probably understood the Nigerian situation when he wrote the above. Over 160 million of us have been given another opportunity to come together to demand accountability and more from our leaders, yet as usual, we have balked. We have retreated to our online forums complaining about the President and his many ministers. As usual, we have handed the journalists and writers our full support to fight our collective battle.
For many Nigerians who have lost loved ones on the ill-fated Dana Air crash, life may never return to normal. But for the majority of ‘passionate’ Nigerians, who have had time to commiserate, talk and cry, sadly it is back to business as usual. For many actually, the crash and the unfortunate series of events preceding it were ‘just a pity’. Their God kept them safe and next time they travel by air they would travel fasting and chanting ‘Hail Mary’.
Why do we feel so powerless in the face of such madness and ineptitude in our polity? Why do we feel we cannot grab the reins of our country and move it forward? The first weekend of last month would forever be etched in the annals of history as one the worst weekends in the nation’s history as it was from one bad news to the other. Nigeria is on the fast lane to hell and we are all seated drinking our beer and reading the newspapers. Let us start with the multiple accidents on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. For decades, this road has deteriorated. Petrol tankers share the over congested route with passengers who commute for business, social and economic reasons on the only road which links the northern and the southern parts of Nigeria. Many people routinely see stupid people light bonfires near tankers to alert oncoming vehicles that their tanker is broken down. We see these unbelievable sights and drive on hurriedly. This express road is a death trap. The fact that citizens of Ogun, Lagos and Oyo states, and all road users have not put pressure on their respective governments to sort it out beggars belief. We all know that the Goodluck Jonathan government’s only priority is wining elections in 2015, so as citizens, we need to let the government know on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. Enough is enough.
The Dana Air crash killed both rich and poor, young and old, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba alike. It did not distinguish between tribes in its wake. This flight in a way affected the whole nation. It seems we all know somebody whose life was lost on that fateful day or perhaps not. The question is if Nigerians carry on with their indifference (going back to business as usual), nothing will provoke the great ‘revolution’ many have been talking about. Whilst the anger and sense of loss continues against Dana Air management, the crash ought to call Nigeria and its citizens to order because the crash was caused by the negligence of all Nigerians. All Nigerians you might ask? It is my submission that 160 million of us can make our inept politicians listen to us and begin to make things happen. But are we really interested? To be quite candid, as we continue to debate and deliberate on who is culpable for the senseless loss of lives, unless we say enough is enough now, Nigeria will degenerate even further.
We cannot keep complaining about the government, it is time all 160 million of us began to ‘name and shame’ those who give or take a bribe. Let’s start from the customs officials at our airports through to the council clerks who need inducement to do their jobs. We know the many uncompleted projects in Nigeria are because of over inflated contracts and because the contractors know Nigeria is a place where human life means nothing. They know there is no accountability; if Nigerians are not bothered they are not bothered. Is there a way the reader of these words can begin to ensure that within their own spheres they are accountable? The only truth is when we begin to live and work transparently, our leaders, managers et al would be scared of being different. We would have forced them into compliance.
I know the main problem we have is leadership. We forget as followers we have the power in our hands. I wish we could turn the anger we feel nationally right now into some form of real activism, into some form of movement beginning at the local (grassroots) levels where all leaders would be asked to give an account of their stewardship. I wish we would stop worshipping wealth and each man would be content with what ever little they have. I wish we could return to those times when having a good name was better than filthy lucre.
The fault is neither in the government, nor in our leaders but in Nigerians: all 160 million of us. We have the power to change our nation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem we have had enough disasters and bad news to awaken the giant within us. Nigerians, please tell me when would we have had enough?