Archives for posts with tag: politics in Nigeria

As I eased into the sweet lyrics of ” Jesus Na You Be Oga, the atmosphere was electric as the luxurious bus fizzed  with  that un-matchable  vibe. That vibe  which makes you smile at nothing in particular as you join  a bus full of strangers gyrating and singing loudly to the same  Nigerian gospel song; and let me tell you, “Jesus Na You Be Oga” is up there with the best of the best.

Undeniably, in Nigeria, music, song and dance does it all the time.  Nothing I know works quite as quickly and as miraculously, morphing total strangers into laughing cronies in the time it takes to wriggle in your seat and join the melee of voices. Nothing except perhaps  the familiar phenomenon of ”

Nothing except perhaps  the familiar phenomenon of “The Forum.”

 The forum is a social construct only possible under very specific conditions: naturally gregarious people; a shared state of fermenting frustration  with  everything political and  time to kill.

And, just as we are highly attuned to  group recitals of  popular gospel songs, Nigerians have mastered the art of striking up discussion forums quite seamlessly anywhere and at anytime.

I mean you would not believe it but just a few  hours earlier, as they made their way to Yaba to catch the Cross-country bus to Accra this group of shrill debaters  were complete strangers.

Now, voices rang out in animated tones as men and women spoke in varying degrees of volume and brash eloquence. Each  voice determined to contribute to the heated conversations on the continuing quandary that is the Nigerian State and of course who rules it come …. sometime in 2015!

 And as eyes brightened and voices mellowed with laughter, I could sense my camaraderie with these voices.  Regardless of where we all started our individual journeys, we are Nigerians-we are  connected by that wistful expectation of a different future and the forum is necessary wherever it might spring up.

It provides a social outlet blanketed  in anonymity and  the proverbial “safety in numbers” as we spew and proffer about our vision of a different Nigeria which continues to sit perfectly polished in our minds.

And as dates are moved and agendas rearranged,  many voices  are jostling to be heard; eager voices cloistered in different places in Nigeria and around the world, connected  powerfully  by the uniformity of our displeasure and uneasiness with the politics of Nigeria and the disjointed narrative which permeates it.

Like millions of Nigerians, I  want to see a  Nigeria dragged out of the doldrums; but like many I am struck by the tense juxtaposition of disparate ideologies, wishy-washy dialogue, monotonous  charades and what sometimes feels like the theatre of the absurd.

So I ask- as we watch the next few weeks unfold- Naija which way forward now?

If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou

 In typical ” Naija” fashion, many voices gyrated unceremoniously ( all at the same time, I might add) in passionate response to the question: if you could fix one thing and one thing only in Nigeria , what would it be?

We all mostly know how it works.

Everyone has an elaborate opinion as to what needs fixing in Nigeria- yet it’s never quite one which can be explained in a few clearly articulated sentences.

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Nonetheless, on this occasion, I was determinedly at odds with everyone else. My answer, unlike the group favorite, did not lie with executing a line of corrupt Nigerian leaders in a ” Rawlings-like” coup, or a French Revolution style rebirth in the cold light of day. The way forward  in my view, lies not with our leaders but with us- the general populace and Nigerians in the diaspora. We  who think so little of ourselves as agents of change that we cannot demand more from those  we have democratically elected to  serve and protect us.

Well, after spending most of the evening not really listening to each other but happily  spouting individual theories of change, the rhetoric exhausted, we moved on to other matters…as we do.

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A few days later, quite unexpectedly, two things happened in quick succession  .

First I read Okey Ndibe’s typically scathing but deeply thoughtful article : ” Again, A Case of Uncounted Billions” (http://saharareporters.com/column/again-case-uncounted-billions-okey-ndibe)

Despite the wrenching weight of hyperbole which hit home in the first few lines, I had to shake my head in vigorous agreement – the truth of his assertions seemed completely undebatable.

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That Nigeria has been and continues to be mostly  blighted by a continuum of “small minded” political leaders who scuttle along in nonsensical but highly destructive self -gratifying labyrinths of darkly corrupt networks, nefarious wheeling and dealing and blatant cronyism is a truth well corroborated in Mr Ndibe’s article.

That these same leaders are propped up by a psyche completely disconnected from notions of service  is a view that many of us, in our collective social pods have come to accept and discuss. In strident voices  we writhe in what sometimes feels like a cauldron of  overwhelming frustration.

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However, what really got me gasping in total discomfort  was Mr Ndibe’s  statement that: ” many Nigerians, one suspects, are hostile to the deep thinking that is a precursor to remarkable transformation”. 

Many Nigerians”? Surely, the man could not be referring to me as part of  that dubious herd? Then, the second event .I clicked on a link which took me here: http://youtu.be/wUX6LP6H3Z8.

Egunje.com ke?

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There they were,  the well knitted, highly stimulating documentaries put up on Youtube by  Egunje.com  and Public Integrity Networks (PINS) in  2012  to promote the message of civil action against corruption.

Here was a civil organization proactively  instigating a platform  akin to  having a civilized debate about  conquering the culture of corruption in Nigeria.

Shockingly, out of an estimated 150 million potential  “Nigerian” viewers in this new age of an internet savvy audience, I was only among the first handful of people to view these videos almost two years after being posted online.

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Why wasn’t this campaign being highlighted, talked about and debated back and forth by the Nigerian media to at least  begin a series of conversations which people could pick up and maybe run with?

Why hadn`t any of my 458 FB friends posted or shared any of these videos on their page in the last 2 years?

In fact, with all my self-acclaimed interest in a progressive Nigeria, why had I not heard about or come across these very engaging clips?

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My mind churnedThe penny dropped.  

The picture of inertia which emerged had me brooding dis-quietly for days. Clearly, it’s not just  our  leaders who are really far gone. In all honesty, it appears to me that through a distinct lack of proactive acumen, we, the so called educated elite may be slipping down the abyss of “all words-no action” so steadily  that  we may become part of the problem of Nigeria.

Therefore, as we look to a future Nigeria we rhetorically  insist on being a part of, we must envision a country that we can all collectively  take responsibility for shaping and steering as much in actions as in words.

Less talk. More work.

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