NIGERIA AT 59: EVERYONE HAS TO BE RESPONSIBLE
Yesterday, 1st October 2019, from my base in Ota, Ogun State – I attended a Book Launch which featured panel discussions while I had the options of being in two other places: first to cover an event as a Correspondent, and the other, a Church programme with my mentor. Apart from the fact that I was to anchor the Book Launch, it was an opportunity to honour my friend who, at the age of 22, and at the verge of completing her NYSC just authored a powerful book that got me wowed at every page while I was editing the manuscript.
Joshua Alade, Team Lead, Next Generation Africa Initiative who happens to be one of the panellists treated my brain to a tick-tock moment when he gave a very deep analogy about Nigeria’s chunk of problems, and how the responsibility of making it better lie in the palms of everybody, irrespective of social class or clique.
According to this intelligentsia, just a mere decision of showing an “I don’t care” attitude to the smallest thing can cause big problems. In an example, he said; it starts with a young lady, who after eating and gulping a piece of Gala and a plastic of table water respectively decided to throw the waste on the ground instead of disposing of appropriately, then a heavy downpour visits the earth and sweeps it into the drainage. Since water would not be able to go through the drainage anymore, it will make its passage via other means and cause a flood, then water visits the house of a man and carries away the only cassava flakes (garri) he has depended on for the night.
The following morning, the man starts walking down the highway thinking of his life, and then another man mistakenly hits him by the side. Since a hungry man is an angry man, he decides to retaliate and fights begin, it attracts many people and the place soon become crowded and it causes hold up on the road. In that traffic jam is a lady going for an interview slated for 10 am and she had promised her sister to get her all she wanted for school and other needs as soon as she gets the job. But she later got to the venue late. This ‘just’ attitude by the person that wanted to satisfy her appetite (uses and gratification theory) would go on and on to debar the girl at home from getting herself things needed for school, or plaiting her hair, this would also affect the market women and hairdresser from making a particularly good sale just because someone somewhere failed to properly dispose a waste.
I ruminated on these words and came to a conclusion that all hands must be on deck; uniformity of mindset must be put in place before we can get a better Nigeria that we all are clamouring for.
Just as I got back to Ota from Ikoyi that night, around some minutes to 8 pm, I visited the noisy marketplace of my WhatsApp and saw a status where a friend of mine, Adepeju Mistura (CEO, O’tura Creations) was lamenting the incessant increase of transport fare from bike men just because of the rain. In her words; “We are the ones doing ourselves in this Nigeria. Rain falls, bike fare of N200 escalates to N500. Mr Olokada, are you the rain? Will the wet road suck your fuel? Everybody sha want to squeeze money out of everybody. She ended the songs of lamentation with “Let me be going to Australia, my country jeje.” Though her final submission was for humour, she wouldn’t have stated another country as a better haven if each person would be kind enough to have this mentality of being responsible as a citizen of the country.
Oftentimes, I have also complained about the incessant hike placed on transport fare and goods/products whenever it comes to any festive season in the country. What amazes me the most is that; this inhumane act is usually carried out by the have-nots against their fellow have-nots. Many just posses a corrupted version of the mentality needed to salvage this country, but to move forward, we may need to disrupt the popular “all man for his tent/head.”
I was almost moved to tears when this young man narrated the lot of a woman who visited her fatherland for the first time with her daughter but lost her life the same day to a danfo bus passing a one-way direction. To the passengers, they would have gladly eulogized the driver who would have helped them get away from the mighty traffic jam but, a life was lost. Many of us would have done the same; even me! But, her daughter was thrown into a state of dilemma.
I had one striking note to take home from Joshua Alade; “That it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it does not affect others.” What you consider good or normal may be at the expense of another person’s life – consider the very first analogy.
I decided to bring to bear; some of the little things we despise saying it has no weight or consider as being inconsequential since we do not know how long it may go to cause decadence to the country. The little boy in your neighbourhood who neither goes to school nor has any handwork can be helped by you in your little way. Your little input can ensure a prophesied armed robber become a Chief Accountant tomorrow.
Little drops of water make a river; the river can either be a smelly one or one which flows with good aqua habitats dwelling therein. A leader that gets to the helm of affairs and started misbehaving is a product of the society. The society makes the country and it can be flushed of its dirt but all must be responsible. A better Nigeria starts with you and me.
Adekunle Adewunmi writes from Ota, Ogun Nigeria.