My recent trip to Jos (J-town) of Nigeria was an eye-opener. I was hitherto, insignificantly, aware of the magnitude of what I did not know. And at the end of my stay in Jos, en route the humble source of mankind, Ile-Ife, I remembered the words of my loving grandfather, Moses Olaonipekun Akinyode, which he somewhat usually belched out after a protracted meditation, “Nigeria: we ‘hate’ thee”.
Jos is a country other than a city in a state within a country, with her own laws, people and (guess I’m wrong) weather. If anyone is in a hurry (and wouldn’t await my views) to deconstruct that claim, he or she should pay, even if a few days, visit to this lovely city (which I’m certain represents several others within Nigeria).
We were seated in an Ekiti State government this-or-that ministry-or-parastatal bus (the one we popularly call Hummer Bus) as we traversed states leading to the J-town. Ninety two percent of people in that bus (eight percent being a pastor or is he Personal Assistant to a Pastor? Many of whom do not have the feelings of being Nigerians as a result of their being insulated from the pangs of bad leadership and invariably associated societal ills. Don’t forget Churches were never paying taxes; everyone cuts a chunk of their monthly incomes and hands such to churches, nay Pastors and special other treatments are awarded to) constituted the end-receivers (by the virtue of their position to receive stimuli and react or respond accordingly but who are rather too complacent or doggedly myopic to mete out any purposeful reaction; hence becoming the albatross for a meaningful, positive change) and who happily, at least, are several steps ahead of the dregs, the ignored and forgotten.
The major talk in that bus was about the recently concluded Ekiti State gubernatorial elections and the power play that went into ‘successfully displacing the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi and re-installing veteran Governor Ayo Fayose. It all boiled down to partisan political pettiness as the youths argued against the candidacy of Fayemi, who they claimed made policies that were unfriendly to the people (whoever says everything will be fine with everyone, every time. How sad we don’t know or how quickly we forget that whatever has ‘gone beyond repairs’ requires drastic, impactful efforts – maybe harsh on some like asking highly incompetent teachers to go home. Do we think asking a ‘bad’ teacher, who would have been a ‘good’ singer to go home, retrace his/her steps in order to become a great and successful global singer is a bad leadership decision, as our youths think or are made to think? I guess not! That’s just an instance.)
They also almost unanimously agreed that another undoing of Fayemi was his distance from the people, who voted him into power; that it was his wife, the first lady that frantically made efforts to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, they said it was Kayode Fayemi they initially voted and not his MRS.
I find this disturbing. Is it today or it’s been years that our youths have been reduced to such level of mediocrity, where we have forgotten yet again or are totally unaware of the significance of our vote? Do you vote in order that the elected become friend with everyone (not that this is bad. It’s the hallmark of a ‘politician’) or because you expect the elected to provide good leadership. Ayo Fayose is a grandmaster at grassroots political play and he lives no stone unturned (if you know what I mean).
With this sort of prevalent orientation with the youths, if Prof. Wole Soyinka, late Gani Fawehinmi (who incidentally contested but wasn’t voted into power, anyway) and other sanes ones were to contest and win an election, Nigeria youths (more aptly, Ekiti youths – obviously, maybe not all) would expect him/her to play to the gallery, become padi-padi with everyone and buy beer for the men and pants, braziers or chocolate for the ladies. What manner of followership!
Is Nigeria doomed and not just hated? Should we not pray for Governor Ayo Fayose and his ‘wonderful’ likes to continue taking us (or them) for a perpetual ride? That’s politics and leadership.
On the religious front. The journey back to Ife had me in yet another Ekiti State this-orothat ministry-or-parastatal bus, packed with a Pastor, a Church youth leader and other church workers. The discussion this time was interesting rather than perplexing. While a worker boasted about his escapades with women, who he considered stupid and greed. The youth leader supported him, also attempting to boast of his big-boyhood, responding to queries from the church workers (predominantly ladies), “Youth leader, you too?”; he said, “Yes! You don’t know anything. We are merely speaking our minds and being true to ourselves.”
They also busied themselves with talks about church buildings; which one is finer and bigger; the ones with the most expensive roof structure, blah blah blah. One could only imagine, “No wonder the prayers of the one million and one churches don’t get answered over Nigeria.”
Towards the end of the journey, I was shocked to hear the hitherto silent Pastor more-or-less pleading to have the telephone number of that randy church worker, who had earlier boasted of his escapades, “Anytime there’s an opportunity at the Ministry of Agriculture, where you work and you deem such opportunities beneficial to me in any way, please don’t hesitate to let me know.” This Pastor heard all the escapades of this man o. Nigeria is in trouble! Everything is about money. A pastor could preach against the devil but if Satan has money, the same Pastor would become his friend. And we condemn politicians?
JOS is a beautiful place I’ll always love to visit as often as I’m privileged. The weather makes you feel you are somewhere else other than Nigeria. Everyone bathed with hot water every morning; if you choose to do otherwise, people who love you (like my wonderful hosts, the Odusanyas) will advise, “Don’t; don’t just try it in Jos.” Only they and God know the reason. The topography is also inviting and it is situated almost at the geographical centre of Nigeria.
The people are peaceful and accommodating but that’s if you keep to the rules. What rules? Rules that are against the constitution and the perception of the people down south of Nigeria. There’s the Muslim minority and the Christian majority. Each has her own streets and everyone keeps to his/her street. While a Christian is not to walk or drive through the Muslim street, the Muslim should not be found on Christian streets. Any defaulter may become immediate casualty in case of an unexpected crisis. While I drove through the city, I was particularly advised by my previously Jos-domiciled wife, who knew the terrain, to keep to Christian streets in spite of the heavy traffic on such streets, whereas the Muslim streets were largely without vehicular movements and free of traffic.
Yet, everyone talks about one Nigeria and the unity of the country being sacrosanct, whereas several states and cities within the country have already experienced their own internal secession; hence, polarized.
NIGERIA: We hate thee!