Celebrating retrogression

Nigeria is 56 and with the realities confronting her, would it be out of place to ask this: are the labours of our heroes past not plummeting into nothing as the years run by? Be not in a haste to answer, be not in a hurry to castigate me or crucify me upside down but with the calmness of still waters, ponder over my query like the ruminant does its curd.

Should we really be brandishing green white green and screaming happy independence at the top of our lungs with the current upsurge of colossal national tragedies that assail our country? I think that long before 2016, we have lost the true reason to celebrate October 1.

However, instead of seeing the light, we have chosen, to be like the sanctimonious and very deluded pirate who went to sea with the 10 commandments after erasing ‘thou shalt not steal’. We shut our eyes from seeing the ravaged skeleton our Nigeria has become, but conjure up an image of a fattened maiden and then celebrate that mirage.

It wasn’t so in the beginning. I bet our heroes past didn’t go toe to toe with the white men, snatching Nigeria from their limiting grasp to watch her steadily skid into reverse…

Should our heroes past be in today’s Nigeria, would they be willing to say “Happy Independence Day” with the same vigour with which they fought for it over five decades ago? They probably would be shaking their immortal heads in putrid disappointment while shedding scarlet tears as they watch from immortality what their gargantuan toils have been reduced into.

Isn’t it the pride and joy of every normal parent that their children outshine them? Alas, the beautiful, fresh maiden our ancestors rescued from the oyinbo man, with voluptuous bosom and intricate curves, has now been transmogrified into a wretched hag, with flat chest devoid of any form of freshness! Yet, we pull out the drums and dance to the rhythm of independence sans a tinge of mortification.

We may want to ask ourselves, “What are we celebrating?”

In 1960, when Nigerian gained independence, Nigerians needed just 0.71 Nigerian Naira in exchange for 1 US Dollar. The prospect was good and subsequent developments in the oil market were such that by 1980, Nigerians could get almost $2 dollars with just N1 Nigerian Naira (N 0.5445/USD).

In the same 1960, the Nigerian Naira that was being exchanged for N2/GBP became more valuable than the great British Pound Sterling in 1974 and so remained until 1985. I bet this generation would probably see this as some quaint fable but it happened in our Nigeria.

This country was so blessed with the oil boom of the early 1970s beyond the administrative capacity of the then ruling class that a commission was set up in 1972 (Udoji Commission) to come up with ways to share the “Excess Petro Dollars” among households. The commission submitted that workers’ salaries be doubled and be paid in retroactive to 6 months.

Once upon a time in this country, the minimum wage was increased by 131 per cent from N312 ($506) to N720 ($1,168), this happened in 1974.

Fast forward to 2016, Nigeria is 56 but instead of this wine to get finer, it tastes more like vinegar per minute. So I ask again, “what are we celebrating?”

Is it the horrifying fact that a dollar now goes for over N400 naira in today’s Nigeria or the more perplexing reality that in this country, so richly blessed with crude oil amongst several other natural resources, a litre of petrol today sells at over N140.

Are we wriggling our creaky waists over the stupefying realities that inflation rate has hit an all time high of 17.2 per cent, our children, after graduating from the hells we call federal universities, have to fight suicidal thoughts while battling with indefinite unemployment and garri in 2016 has become luxury?

As Nigeria marked her 56th independence anniversary on Saturday, several state governments are unable to afford to pay N18,000 minimum wage to the Nigerian workers who have bled on the jobs. How did we ever get here?

As Nigeria marked her 56th Independence Anniversary on Saturday, we sank into deeper abysmal recession. Our economy is in crisis and it is REAL!

In 2016, in the month of emancipation, several Nigerians cannot afford to pay their children’s school fees. Many others cannot afford to buy food – the basic necessities of life have become luxury for the average Nigerian with no respite in near future?

Our leaders, like the three hags did with Macbeth, prattle with us in double sense. One says we are getting out of recession in December 2016 yet another hesitantly declares the prior assertion as uncertain-forked prophecies from master puppeteer’s puppets!

Our dear president, in his bid to reassure millions of Nigerians the other day said, “I ran for office because I know that good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all. I remain resolutely committed to this objective,” but how long till we begin to see results? Even the holy writ emphasizes the significance of signs and wonders, doesn’t it?

He said also that he believe that this recession would not last, but could he give us as a matter of fact its deadline?

Nigeria at 56, aside from merely declaring her plans to produce her own pencils in 2018, intends to achieve domestic self sufficiency in staples like rice, maize, millet and soya beans by the same time but do we feed on our aged parents, like in the fable of the tortoise and famine in the animal kingdom before then?

I am pleasantly surprised and maybe even awed that at a time like this, when everyone tends to take on the disgusting ‘sidon dey look’ approach, gurus of the entertainment industry are raising their voices. They seem to be among the few, who have retained the clarity of their vision in these times and are bold enough to call a spade a spade. At over 50, we should be sick to our stomachs about celebrating mediocrity, stagnancy and backwardness! Rather, we should light candles and soberly reflect on what we will be bequeathing posterity with and be petrified by the reality that perhaps, our heroes past have done a better job.