The Yorubas say “we leave leprosy and we are curing ringworm”. That is my analysis of the well intentioned commentary about fanning the embers of war. There is so much legitimate concern about Nigeria becoming like Libya, Yemen or Syria. There is a lot of blame being placed at the feet of Nigerians in diaspora who allegedly incite all this violence in Nigeria. I have read so many accusations labeled against Sowore, that he left his family safely in America and now wants to put other people’s children in harms way. They even say after he causes problems he would run back to America. Many conveniently leave out the fact that whether you love him or loathe him, he has put HIMSELF in harms way. He left his relative comfort in America to risk his life for what he believes in. He has no guarantee that he would not be killed. He has already been jailed and harassed for his beliefs and he has a court action over his head for his beliefs. I have said severally that I am not his fan but I respect his resolve to stand for something. How many of his critics have stood up in Nigeria for anything.
As a member of the diaspora myself we must take these criticisms seriously and caution ourselves. However, this is the ringworm I referred to above. The leprosy of Nigeria is bad government. Millions of ordinary Nigerians are already living in Libya and Syria right here in Nigeria. The poor man on the street in Nigeria is already in hell and now they are introducing the populace to a taste of their hell. Do you know how many times the ordinary Nigerians shanty has been demolished by government? Do you know how many times the petty traders goods have been confiscated or burnt by government officials? Do you know how many Okadas and Kekes have been seized by government officials? Do you know how many ordinary Nigerians are in custody without trial? Do you know how many Nigerians have been raped by police officials or shot summarily? We are talking about hell, the average Nigerian has been in hell before Lekki tollgate. I have lived in ghetto and I know the streets. Most middle class people in Nigeria are in denial. You pay someone N35k to come to work in VIctoria Island and he lives in Ogun State. It costs him N35k per month for transport and feeding only. He leaves his home at 4.30am daily so that he won’t be late. The guy has 3 children, a wife and other relatives he has to fend for. Don’t you wonder how he survives. You give a policeman a gun, he has 8 children, no accommodation, no health insurance and no training ! The elite expect him to survive . As he guards their children. These spoilt children and criminal politicians spend N1m at a night club for just one night out and they pay the policeman N50k a month. We have left the leprosy and we are treating the ringworm. As a Nigerian comedian says, “Are you serious”?
The vocal middle and upper class Nigerians are complicit in that they refused to hold the government accountable, they refuse to correct the ills of the land. They party and celebrate with the thieves that rob, rape and pillage the country. The religious leaders are no better, they hobknob with the government officials who they know are the root of our problem. They celebrate them and even collect money from them. Now that the people are on the streets causing mayhem everyone is shouting. Are these not the people we refused to educate and provide for? They have started burning everything down everything and the sanctimonious elite and so called middle class Nigerian are now crying crocodile tears blaming the imaginary Nigerian in diaspora.
If we had good government would the Nigerian in Diaspora be able to incite people? If we had good government would there be so many Nigerians in diaspora in the first place? Nigerians in diaspora remain Nigerians greatest export. Oil is our second largest export. If Nigerians in the diaspora had the heart to stop remitting funds home for just one month, Nigeria would burn.
The Nigerians slaving in diaspora are the ones subsidizing Nigeria and allowing the bad government in Nigeria to continue with the seeming peace. Just one month without any remittance from abroad Nigeria would know the true value of the Nigerian in diaspora. Nigeria has been enjoying this subsidy for too long that they have no value for it. This is the real Nigerian subsidy.
Please do the analysis. What is Nigeria’s total budget and how much actually trickles down to the people after the bulk of it has been stolen through exorbitant salaries for the political class, bogus contracts and white elephant projects. The diaspora subsidizes the entire nation. If the Syrian leader was good would they have problems? Same with Libya and Yemen.
Nobody wants war. Were igbos not being massacred in northern Nigeria in 1967? Were Igbo officers not murdered in Abeokuta and later Aguyi Ironsi and Fajuyi killed in cold blood before all hell broke loose culminating in the Biafran civil war? Was Awolowo and his group not jailed ? The leprosy of secterian killing, corruption, political witch hunting was left alone and the ringworm of Ojukwu was being addressed. After the Rawandan genocide, Kagame brought peace to the land by addressing the fundamental issues in the land. Why is Switzerland at peace with various nationalities there living in harmony? Why is America in upheaval with various nationalities living there. It is because the leprosy of America called racism has still not been addressed, the ringworm of incremental progress is being treated and it would not work. Bob Marley said that “ until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently abolished, there would be war”.
The simple demand by the people that legislators exorbitant salaries in Nigeria be reduced and governors unconscionable pensions and security votes be cut to reasonable amount has not and would not be addressed. The demand for restructuring would not be addressed, the demand for police and judiciary reform would not be touched. The demand for transparency in awarding contracts and accountability would be ignored. How much does Lekki toll gate bring in daily? Why can this not be put into a special fund to fix roads on that axis? How much does Ikoyi link bridge bring in? Why can we not have transparency and accountability in government? Why do we not have pipe borne water and 24 hours power till now? Why are our hospitals so bad? Why are there more people awaiting trial in jail than convicts? Why do politicians and celebrities have so many police escorts and the nation is under policed? Why is Boko Haram still killing us? why are Fulani herdsmen carrying AK 47’s that cost millions ? Where are they getting guns and ammunition? Where is Leah Shuraibu? Why can’t people go to their farms in peace? Why are our highways death traps ?why why why? The elite would brush that under the carpet because they and their friends benefit from the rot in the system through the corrupt government officials.
People are crying that the High court was burnt down. How many common men got any form of justice in the court house. The whole judiciary stinks to high heavens of corruption. The issue of police barracks, salary and training has been the same since I was born. I lived right behind Iyaganku barracks in Ibadan. Even my dog could not live there. How many Nigerian politicians pray for their children to join the police force. How many politicians send their children to public school or hospital. This is the leprosy that we close our eyes to and we keep talking about the Nigerian in diaspora or the Igbo trader is to blame for burning Lagos heritage sites ? We now say Igbos have taken over Lagos, why would they not take over Lagos when our elite turned their own people into area boys, thugs and omo oniles. If you leave a vaccum someone would fill it. Why are the so called yorubas not being sponsored to trade or to learn a trade. Instead local government would be taxing them illegally and confiscating their goods. Why don’t the political god fathers sponsor Yoruba traders by helping them set up cooperatives and import or manufacture goods. They would rather recruit them as thugs to intimidate political enemies and cause Mayhem during election. Now these same thugs have an appetite for burning and looting and we are crying.
The robbery at Offa comes to mind. Political thugs who were used actively by the senate president decided to rob a bank and killed many people. What happened to their god father? Absolutely nothing. That is the leprosy and now we are upset about the ringworm.
The Nigerian elite would not know peace until they begin to address the ills of society. Leave the diaspora alone and face the problem of Nigeria. There is an Oba in south western Nigeria who built a school in his domain and is educating students for free. He even teaches in the school. Do you think hoodlums would go and burn down his palace? Who turned MC Oluomo a common thug into a national celebrity? Is it people in diaspora that sponsor “ up national” during campaigns.
Unfortunately, we are not yet ready to deal with the leprosy so let us continue to cry over the ringworm. Nigeria’s problem is the silent middle and upper class people that have tolerated the elites excesses for too long. They enjoy some benefits within the system. They are the civil servants who collect bribe, the judges who do the same , the custom and immigration officials, local government goons. Lastma, VIO, Civil Defense, the pastors, Imams and plethora of people who are complicit in making Nigeria what it is today. “Ema fi ete le ke ma pa lapa lapa”.