The Good Book says that a people perish for lack of vision. Someone could argue that Nigeria has articulated one or two visions in its history, but the question is, what has happened to those visions? So, here is the thing: lack of vision is not just about not dreaming up ideas about how to make your country great, it is also about creating practicable, people-centred visions and pursing the same with single-mindedness until you accomplish it.
This is where our country lags behind other countries; that however, is a discussion for another day. What I find really worrisome is that Nigeria is fast losing its soul and humanity. What is the essence of governance, without a people, happy and secure in the land of their birth? Nigeria and its people seem to have lost a sense of what life is all about and unless there is a deliberate recall of our humanity, no amount of prosperity will save this country!
So, what is this about?
Life no longer means anything to the people of this country, whether they are in government or they are the governed. Countries all over the world spend fortunes on the actual protection of their society, and not some bogus humongous expenditures that translate to nothing as we see in Nigeria. Serious countries understand that the survival of society is the protection of life and property. Nigeria has, of course, not considered the protection of property to be of importance for long but things have so degenerated that life is now so cheap that no level of waste shocks us.
Take the instance of the footage of the execution of 11 Nigerians by the Islamic State West Africa Province the day after Christmas. Besides the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s now routine condemnation of the gruesome murder of innocent citizens by these terrorists and his appeal to Christians not to allow this incident to polarise the country, Nigeria has moved on from this incident like nothing happened. This is in spite of the global outcry and call for concrete action against the evil which visited Nigeria since Boko Haram became a violent reality about 10 years ago. This perfunctory, tentative sense of grief that followed this Christmas Day terrorist act is the same that unwittingly encouraged the escalation of the insurgency, kidnappings and so many other evils that have serially befallen Nigeria in the past decade or so.
The latest of the killings is the pathetic story of a final year student of the Lagos State University, Miss Favour Daley-Oladele, who was said to have been lured to her death by a man, Adeeko Owolabi, said to have been her boyfriend.
Although the two men now claim that Owolabi’s mother, Bola, did not know that the concoction was made from the remains of a human being, the extent she agreed to go alongside her son, (for whom she has the responsibility for proper upbringing), tells a lot about the quality of parenting as well as the desperation for wealth!
Nigeria is also grappling with what is popularly known as the “Yahoo Plus Plus” situation. This relates to a group of young people bent on getting rich by all means including employing the use of human parts usually sourced from kidnap victims. Youths, usually in their 20s, drawn to this practice are believed to kill their victims and make use of various parts of their bodies for the rituals. At other times, they are allegedly required to sleep in the cemetery or have sex with ghosts in their bid to get rich! The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, hinted of an association of mothers of those involved in these criminal activities late last year. The mothers’ excuse is that proceeds from their children’s activities help to alleviate the economic hardship they suffer. These mothers, like their children, have loyalty only to themselves and could not care less about any other Nigerian or the country itself. The point is that people just get needlessly killed in Nigeria by one means or another and once it happens, we mourn for a moment and move on until the next sad incident happens.
So, even though poverty is no justification for this frightening level of man’s inhumanity to man that Nigeria currently witnesses, those who lead Nigeria must focus on improving the living standard of the average Nigerian this New Year. There was a time that the world was said to have witnessed so much famine that two women pledged to kill and eat their sons in turn. When the incident was reported to the sitting king upon default by one of the parties, he was said to have shown evident grief and even made attempt to redeem the situation. Nigerian leaders must do something perceptibly positive about the condition of the people this New Year even as they show more respect for the sanctity of people’s lives.
But the people also have a role to play. There is the sad irony of so much religion in Nigeria without righteousness. Those who have a true understanding of God will realise that clerics named in incidents of rituals are mostly phonies and pretenders, but authentic leaders of faiths should do more to instil fidelity to God and country in their followers. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, it is better to have a heart without prayers than prayers without a heart. We must begin to practise our faith with kindness and commitment to humanity without which we are not communing with God. Nigeria’s soul is currently too dark for any progress and 2020 can be the year of change.