Posted by News Express | 1 October 2020 | 631 times
Kemi Adeshina (Not real name) will successfully complete her National Youth Service by the end of the month. She has worked tirelessly and diligently at her place of Primary Assignment. Her director was full of praises for her in the commentary section of her final clearance form: “She is very hardworking, diligent, in all her duties, please keep it up. I will recommend you for any office.”
That was enthralling and fulfilling for her. She just got out of the university and proceeded on the compulsory one year national service scheme. She was posted to one of the South-south states. As an indigene of the South-west, it was predictable. Her director looked at her and said grimly: “We should retain you; But you are not from here.”
Kemi replied with a smile “But I am a Nigerian na.”
Everyone burst into laughter.
That is what Nigeria looks like realistically, forget about the unity in diversity the political elite preach, forget about the “one Nigeria thing.” There is nothing like that on the streets of Kano, neither can you see any emblem of one Nigeria in the creeks of Port Harcourt and it is exclusively missing even in the hamlets in Ekiti. Like Senator Shehu Sanni noted, “When Nigerians are watching super eagles play, we are one Nigeria; immediately after the game, we become Yourba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, and whatever. At 60, Nigeria remains even more sectional, tribalistic and ethnic-dominating as it has ever been. No thanks to the incumbent administration.
For the young people in this country, this writer inclusive, it is cryptic to appreciate what the Nigerian dream connotes. We hear of the American Dream, a national ethos of the United States; the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each, according to ability or achievement,” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
During the infancy of the United States, for many immigrants, the Statue of Liberty was their first view of the country. It signified new opportunities in life and thus the statue is an iconic symbol of the American Dream. The American system may have its own flaws, but we all know that country is more concerned about what opportunities you get on their soil than where you come from.
We know the Chinese dream: Collectivism over individualism. The Chinese dream is hinged on the premise that public good is over individualism. This is evident in the phenomenal developments the Chinese people have experienced in the century.
I’m still searching for the Nigerian dream. Don’t wish me good luck on my expedition, because it’s a mirage, a frolic of my own in the pragmatic sense. The 1999 Constitution was very detailed, especially in chapter two which contains the principles of state objectives. Armed with tons of sections, the words scribbled on the paper, the drafters of the law employed the most enticing and placating legalese, but audaciously made it only as less-worthless than the piece of paper it was written on, given the non-justiciability clause in section 6(6)(c). The fact that Nigeria is on a brink of total collapse is not an allegation, it's a given. If nothing other than a miracle fails to surface within the next decade, you need not be a seer to predict the imminent collapse and disintegration of this country.
We have lived in the fallacious relics of the so-called good old days, which never existed by the way. History connotes that even the founding founders of this country never believed the country was nothing but a conglomerate for the emancipation of colonial imperialism. There was never a Nigerian dream. But there is a nation oozing with human capital in abundance, natural resources in bountifulness, but decrepit as the country with one of the highest unemployment figures in the last quarter of the year; the National Bureau of Statistics indicated about 26.4 per cent; and the country comfortably sits as the world’s poorest capital. That is, the country with the highest number of poor persons with multidimensional inadequacies on its citizenry. The country has an estimated 200 million population with young people within the age bracket of 15-50 accounting for about 48 per cent of this population.
Nigeria clocks the 60 years post-independence on October 1, 2020; but not much has reflected in the lives of the people, especially material prosperity. The country is rated as one of the most-unhappy people in the world. Insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-central, secessionists in the South-East, armed robbery and kidnapping in the South-west, militancy, cultism and kidnapping in the South-south, gangsterism and kidnapping in the North-West; farmers-herders clashes and genocidal killings in the Middle-belt and Southern Kaduna.
Every region of the country has a reason to be unhappy. It’s horrendous and gory to imagine if this is the Nigerian dream. Nigerians are only Nigerians abroad! We become Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Hausa, Tiv, Ibibio-Efik, Ijaw, Urhobo, Esan, Egun, etc., whenever we tread our feet upon this country. We are brothers and sisters when we meet each other at conference halls and airports across the globe, but quickly become Christians and Muslims immediately we see welcome to Nigeria.
Do Nigerians really want to live this way? On the contrary, many would argue this doesn’t represent the innate desire of most Nigerians. But everyone has to depict ethnic bias to lay hold on the scarce resources of the country. It’s through ethnic and religious bigotry most Nigerian elite accessed or acquired any national spoil they possess today as wealth, power or fame. We don’t celebrate merit; it was never a Nigerian dream, except you are meritoriously lucky enough to be recognised in the Diaspora. It’s a pathetic cycle of upholding mediocrity to promote ethnic and religious dominance by a section of the country.
There was never a Nigerian dream. Maybe, it’s only a Nigerian doom that dangles before our eyes daily.
•Tasheyon, a legal practitioner, writes from Lagos.
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