By Pat Utomi,————–
I am not sure what to say about us, Nigerians. Should I praise the Nigerian spirit for resilience in the face of a misery index those from countries seen as the pits of hell want to get away from. Or should one castigate the people of the country for acting like zombies as their inchoate economy retrenches further, facilities collapse in such a manner that a Nigeria regional manager for south African Airways uses words that suggest our major airports are epidemics waiting to breakout. But if truth be told, what puzzles me the most about the Nigerian condition is the total loss of a sense of shame in people who hold positions of public authority in Nigeria. Their swagger in the face of south bound reality beggar’s belief.
A few years ago, I encountered the motto of a secondary school, I fell totally in love with. But now I am wondering if the last line should not be doctored a bit. The motto urges students to work hard and play hard for
“when wealth is lost, nothing is lost
When health is lost, something is lost
When character is lost, all is lost.”
But I feel that extant experience suggests that when a sense of shame is lost, all is lost. May be a fourth line should be when shame is lost nothing can be salvaged.
There is hunger and anger in the land. In some desperation and despair stands up in sharp relief. But you would not guess that when the excellencies cruise past in long motorcades that drain the public treasury. How did we get this way?
I have struggled to understand how societies fail, in human history. This is why I have found efforts of people like Jared Diamond to offer explanation, in Collapse, for example, quite intriguing. Given, the place of my birth, it should not be a surprise that my biggest challenge has been Nigerian’s failure to make progress and the bigger tragedy of the phenomenon I have come to identify as progressive degeneration where, safe a few examples, governments have been progressively worse, suggesting that learning is a problematic idea. That grabs my attention as a teacher, especially one who has done some work on organizational learning and know that unless the rate of learning in an organization is equal to, or greater than the pace of change in the environment, Rewan’s axiom, the organization is dinosaur-status bound.
The logic suggests that with climbing the learning curve and getting a return on Experience, those that follow should do better than the ones who bore the costs of errors not foreseen. But not so in the Nigerian experience. Compare governance and governing in Nigeria before 1975, with today.
Imagine current reality. The economy is inchoate and reeling from largely self-inflicted error; the power sector is in disarray and manages to aggravate the misery index in ways difficult to describe to anyone who has never lived in Nigeria. The aviation sector is a pain merchant causing people hardships that make the fear of travel the beginning of wisdom. The roads as alternative means are not much to look to. After a recent road journey from Benin to Abuja my body was clearly calling for medical help but I was afraid that to reach a doctor may result in iatrogenic intervention where the medicine could do more damage than the disease, evidently the case with policy and problems in the country. Elections have become wars and public office holders consume resources for infrastructure and growth, in the enjoyment of the perquisites of power.
All these may bring the normal to the brink of tears but they do not trouble me as much as the fact that those on whose watch a country is crumbling walk with such swagger you feel you have just left the requiem for a sense of shame. If shame has not been buried in Nigeria, all of us should be acutely worried that the state of things is the moral equivalence of war. Nations at war mobilize all available resources, define clear strategies. Few know which direction we are travelling and even many inside privately plead they are outsiders in government.
What is holding Nigeria back from doing what is right for the next generation to know progress? After much ponder, I am convinced the problem is culture; In particular, the culture of the dominant political actors in Nigerian history. Nigeria has suffered state capture since 1966 and the group of soldiers who ceased the Nigerian state that year, retain a firm grip 50 years after, even if crisis of legitimacy forced them from time to time to install fillers like the Shagari, Yaradua, Jonathan stop-gaps.
Our Cultures and Values have been thrown to the garbage cans and the ‘political thieves are now chiefs’ in our society. Deltans have been so intimidated, famished and resigned to playing second fiddle in the hands of a cartel for too long. It’s a new season for sharing bags of rice and petty Cash so we can mortgage our conscience and future generation again. I personally have refused to be a photocopy. I am original before God and shall be what the Lord says I shall be.
Deltans Arise! Arise and PUSH come 2019 to break this vicious cycle of poverty in our land.
PUSH… Push Until Something happens.