You have made us an object of scorn among our neighbours; our enemies make a mockery of us! (Psalm 80:6)
Our leaders have no sense of shame and we are exposing our buttocks in the global market square
I had scheduled this intervention for last week before it dawned on me that the independent season was at hand. That shows how bad things are; that we would ‘jump and pass’ October1 just like that! I don’t think anybody sent me a ‘Happy Independence greeting’ but I came across somebody who received such a greeting and who responded…Happy What? However this intervention is also suitable for our 63rd Independence Anniversary.
On August 28, 1968 , Martin Luther King Jnr made that great ‘I have a dream’ speech, which is celebrated at all times, especially in August. During the Martin Luther King season in 2003( 20 years ago), I was led by the spirit to pen down my own dreams for Nigeria, titled ‘I (also) have a dream’. At that time, my children were aged 13, 11, 9 and 5.
I peeped into my mystic pot and assured them of a better Nigeria, where no one would be oppressed and where we would live in peace and unity even if tongues, tribes and religions differed. Now, 20 years later, my children, who have now become adults are witnessing a bitter Nigeria rather than a better one, with embittered desperate and frustrated people all over the place.
In that 20 year old article, I had concluded: ‘Yes, I have those dreams and I shall continue to dream. These dreams shall come to pass; it may be in my life time or in the life time of my children. It shall come to pass soon and how soon it is will be determined by what we all do or fail to do how we make a choice of those things we do and how well we do them. But definitely, it shall come to pass’.
Lets go down the memory lane as I share with you the dream I had in 2003 as published in page11 of Daily Champion16/9/02023, when we were preparing for our 43rd independence anniversary. It was also published in at least 10 National Newspapers then. Read One…
The earth is in turmoil and there are all sorts of turbulence everywhere. The rich nations are getting richer, manipulating the already skewed world economic order further to their advantage and to the detriment of the rest, the wretched of the earth.
‘Me-ship’ has reached dangerous proportions amongst the citizens of the world; extreme suspicion, distrust and hatred characterise the relationships between peoples of different races and religions, and there are conflicts, violence and unrestrained use of force everywhere.
Despair, desperation and poverty are the lots of the majority of earth’s people. Avoidable conflicts, kleptomaniac, megalomaniac and barren leadership cover the face of Africa while increasing illiteracy, mass pauperization and ‘where do we go from here’ feeling pervade the air in Nigeria, a nation prodigiously blessed by the Almighty, a nation where hope has become a scarce commodity and as a result, greed-propelled mercantilist Pentecostalism, based on magical economic prosperity and questionable miracles, signs, and wonders, booms uncontrollably. But amidst all this and in spite of all this, I have a dream!
I have a dream that one day, in the not too distant future, politicians, politicking and the political landscape in Nigeria will all become ‘born again’. Politics will be transformed into a ‘clean game’ played by honest, committed and service-driven citizens who want to improve the lots of their people and not to amass wealth.
Political parties will transform into assemblages of people of like minds, bound together by common purposes, ideologies and the zeal to serve; party primaries will be transparent and candidates chosen on the basis of their competence and credibility. Politicking will be based on issues, money will play an insignificant role, violence will be counter-productive, godfathers will become childless and rigging will no longer be ‘the way’.
Voters will no longer be swayed by cups of salt and bars of soap, sectional, tribal or religious sentiments, and the whims of the ‘ogas’. This is a political order in which the will of the people as indicated by their votes will become supreme.
The resulting form of governance will be people oriented and characterised by responsiveness, responsibility, transparency, consultation, and the absence of hidden agenda. Government services will be efficient, effective and result oriented with minimal bureaucracy and operated by adequately trained, equipped, rewarded and motivated workers who are really civil and who are really servants.
I have a dream that our economy will become the pride of Nigerians who will no longer need to bond themselves into servitude in foreign lands and the toast of genuine foreign investors. The Naira will become strong and sought after, the real sectors of the economy will shine, made-in-Nigeria goods, produced by companies operating at full capacity, will enjoy local and foreign patronage, we shall shed our mono-cultural [oil-only-economy] status and there will be no more need to import every thing-including sand.
Our balance of payment and foreign reserves positions will be so healthy that we will once more become net lenders in the International Financial Markets while the Breton Woods Institutions will be begging us to borrow from them [since we would have become ‘under-borrowed’ by then] and parade us as an example of prudence and sound economic management to other distressed, beggarly, nations.
Rural-urban dichotomy will vanish; an enviable level of employment will exist, poverty and the embarrassingly widening income inequality will be a thing of the past. It will no longer be a nation of 100 millionaires and 100 million beggars. Corruption will only be mentioned in the past tense and earmarked funds will be eye-marked
I have a dream that one day, and that will be soon, fuel crises [related to scarcity or ‘subsidy’] will be a thing of the past and our infrastructure will become the global benchmark for excellence. Electricity supply will be reliable and adequate and we shall drop our medal as the highest generator-importing nation.
Our roads will be known more for their smoothness and durability and not for muddy drum-holes, colourless and ordourless water will be available every where, every time and the telecommunication services will be available, reliable and affordable and we shall become active participants [instead of peripheral onlookers] in the global digital economy.
Medical services will be for all and the spectacle of full-blooded Nigerians begging on Federal T.V stations for funds to offset medical bills will merely become an unfortunate paragraph in our social history. People will no longer need to rush for questionable certificates abroad because the educational system will be effective with operator and consumer friendly policies and contended teachers who put the students first and teach what they are paid to teach. Our cities will become really beautiful and occupied by only human beings to the exclusion of refuse heaps, extra-large rats, imported cockroaches, and mosquitoes.
I have a dream that African continent will assume a pride of place in the global scheme of things as against the current situation in which the countries are played against each other through a ruthless carrot and stick strategy and good old divide and rule tactics and used as pawns in the chessboard of predatory international politics. I dream of a prosperous, united, and developed Africa where there will be no more poverty, illiteracy, disease, and internecine, foreign-propelled conflicts.
I dream of Africa led by genuinely elected leaders who are committed to the well being of their people and the continent and not by those parading mercenary credentials and suffering from acute ‘loot-mania’.It will no longer be an Africa where a black few allied to business interests from Europe and America will ruthlessly exploit their own people and their own countries, where ‘so few will wield the power of life and death over so many’; where leaders betray each other so as to be in the white-man’s good book!
I also have a dream that one day, and that will be soon, we will all live in a world free of poverty, illiteracy, disease, want and fear; a world where equity and fair play will be the norm; where there are no set of rules for the poor and weak nations and another set for the rich and mighty; where all nations and peoples are treated with respect and dignity; where the might is right doctrine will have no sponsors and where force will not be the only convertible currency .
I dream of a world where those preaching against protectionism and subsidies are not the same people championing those practices at home; where globalisation will not be limited to free movement of goods, technical services and capital, to the near total exclusion of labour.
It will no longer be a world where SARS, a minor disease that killed only 300 people in China, will be declared a global emergency while diseases that kill hundreds of thousands in Africa are not even captured in the WHO medical radar let alone attracting any iota of attention.
Yes, I have those dreams and I shall continue to dream. These dreams shall come to pass; it may be in my life time or in the life time of my children. It shall come to pass soon and how soon it is will be determined by what we all do or fail to do how we make a choice of those things we do and how well we do them. But definitely, it shall come to pass ! Concluded!
Unfortunately, it has NOT come to pass and we are VERY FAR from those dreams! Indeed, if we can go back to 2003, we shall actually thank God even though a Benin trader had declared BOLDLY that ‘we cannot go yesterday’! So, what do I do with my dreams’? As I have joined the circle of elders and steadily approaching the 7th floor of life, should I continue to dream? What I should tell my children, whom I had assured 20 years ago that the future would be bright?