Somewhere in Nigeria

6:30pm. Saturday May 12, 2012

Twitter. Trends. Nigeria


In one sudden flash, young Nigerians have taken to Twitter like an army of vultures on post-World War II Japan. The last couple of months have witnessed such an influx of opinion makers and shameless attention-seekers to the Twittersphere, that one wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly ones start to challenge the younger ones thus: “Don’t you know I started using Twitter before you?” A daily dose of Twittercetamol always leaves one energized with entertaining contributions from ALIBABAGCFR, Denrele Edun, Don Jazzy, Eggheader, Ogundamisi, Tolu Ogunlesi, Chinedu Ekeke, MrFixNigeria and several others. No day is complete without the endless list of people begging D’banj and Darey for a retweet; no day is complete without ALIBABA’s knock-knock jokes; no day is complete without MrFixNigeria making new enemies with occasional provocative tweets, and you can trust Chinedu Ekeke and co to take him to the cleaners within seconds. Twitter is always fun, but today things are getting serious.

It has been combination of hilarious and mind-boggling comments on my Twitter timeline, just like one of those moments when everyone seeks to outwit others with their articulation of the most striking challenges in Nigeria. “Somewhere in Nigeria, a yam thief is bagging a 30-year jail term while a tremendously successful looting governor bags a chieftaincy title”; “Somewhere in Nigeria, a family is slowly dying of excess carbon inhalation from their beat-up generating set while the Minister of Power yet again lets out one of his infamous unguarded and ill-considered promises of stable power supply by 2013; “Somewhere in Nigeria, University students are getting knocked down in traffic while chasing after high-speeding vehicles with bottles of cold water and loaves of sliced bread, while their professors compose their demands in preparation for the next showdown with the Ministry of Education”. “Somewhere in Nigeria…

My mind is really heavy right now; I’ve been to this exact point severally and I’ve analyzed to the best of my abilities the numerous challenges embedded in the DNA of my country, Nigeria and I’m no better for it. Just now, news filters in that Professor Adetokunbo Sofoluwe, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos has just passed away after a cardiac arrest (quite fortuitously while doctors across Lagos are suddenly free to spend excess time with their families). Before I can compose my condolence notes, the news is seconded with the demise of Sir Dele Ige (youngest brother of former Minister of Justice, Bola Ige), also of a cardiac arrest. Oh my goodness, what’s happening today? Somewhere in Nigeria, several thousand families of less known people are equally mourning their losses – fathers, mothers and siblings dying of avoidable causes. Somewhere in Nigeria, not a few chickens are being slaughtered for dinner, and Boko Haram is planning to sentence many more (human beings actually).

Oh yeah, Boko Haram! Wasn’t it reported that Suleiman Mohammed, a senior commander of the radical idiotic group was arrested in Kano and was being flown to Abuja for questioning? My only question is “How long until he is announced to have escaped custody by some freak accident? How soon will they let him walk just like the others before him?” With due respect to the Nigerian police, there have been significant improvements in the crackdown against militants across the country, with several foiled bombings, but this really is not their fight. As much as the committed ones among them are working very hard to fulfill their mandate of keeping the country safe, their honest activities are being daily frustrated by their bosses at all levels and that has to be incredibly difficult to swallow for those of them who realize that. Somehow, in spite of the growing threats against the stability of the country, it sounds quite inconceivable that Nigeria still sends troops on peacekeeping missions to Guinea Bissau and Mali, but apparently, there’s a lot that we ordinary citizens can never understand.

Lest I forget, somewhere in Nigeria, students of the University of Ibadan are spending their third straight week at home since their forceful eviction from campus due to their protest against poor power supply, while medical students from Benue State University are taking to the streets in protest of their tiredness of spending 10 years in school without graduation, due to the non-accreditation of their course of study. What manner of country frustrates her youth with such unflinching dedication that Nigerian administrators do? One is forced to imagine the level of desperation the intending medical doctors must have sunk to after 10 years, but then when one considers the fate of the 778 medical doctors in Lagos who were recently relieved of their jobs by the Grand Commander of Lagosian affairs, other concerns begin to pale in comparison.

Somewhere in Nigeria also, youth corps members are deeply regretting the compulsory nature of the National Youth Service Corps. What happened to the ‘reforms’ brandished by the Honorable Minister of Youth Development and his stooges? How does one expect young chaps who sustain themselves with the scraps they receive from the government to survive now that their measly allocations have been suspended because “the country is cash-strapped and unable to issue monthly allocations to state governments and parastatals?” Nigeria is cash-strapped? Excuse me? Does that mean that the President will now be denied his favourite cassava bread or our legislators will be unable to receive their biscuit allowances for their seating charades because they’ve overspent the entire annual budget? Is there even an auditing agency for government spending?

Am I expecting too much from a country that expects to be one of the leading economies in the world by 2020? Am I being such an alarmist for wondering how passengers were trapped in an elevator for 45 minutes during yet another power outage at the Murtala Muhammed airport on Monday? Am I being too judgmental of the PDP for having to decide whether Justice Ayo Salami will be reinstated to his deserved position as President of the Court of Appeal? Am I unjustified to be shocked at the shameful exchange between Mrs Ndidi Onyuike-Okereke and Ms Arunma Oteh on their failed administration of the country’s financial market? Am I being unrealistic in hoping that at least one of the culprits of the recent fuel subsidy scam will be made to face a probe, even if by the inefficient EFCC?

Thankfully, it’s not all gloomy in Nigeria. Somewhere in Nigeria, some young folks are getting together to organize leadership conferences and discuss the future of the country; somewhere in Nigeria, creative artists are designing and publicizing messages of hope as best they can; somewhere in Nigeria, musical artistes are getting to the studio to record great songs and showcase their expertise; somewhere in Nigeria, young sportsmen and women are making themselves and their nation proud and preparing for the London Olympics; somewhere in Nigeria, aspiring entrepreneurs are building the products of the future and sweating endlessly to deliver qualitative services to the world. Somewhere in Nigeria, people are reading this article and nodding in agreement and making commitments to never give up on the country in the face of all odds; people are deciding that in spite of the prevailing challenges, they will persevere and help to build a sustainable future; people are deciding to put their lives on the line if need be, for a better cause.

No one knows what the future holds, but everyone knows that a beautiful future is not reserved for the weak at heart, everyone can agree that those who go forth today sowing precious seeds with tears in their eyes will doubtless come again with the fruits of a bountiful harvest, everyone can hope that somewhere in Nigeria, from the rubbles of a dead system, the wings of a phoenix will shoot forth and provide healing to 160 million broken hearts. Somewhere in Nigeria, someone just bowed their head in careful meditation and whispered “Amen”.

You can follow Faith Abiodun on Twitter @FaithAbiodun

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