We are 56 growing back 90

Yinka Ijabiyi

Unpopular side with O’Yinka Ijabiyi

Twitter: @Yinkakan Instagram: @oneyinka

Fifty-six years on and some say Nigeria is a big nappy wearing baby. Or that very little progress has been made in all these years. Some of us even say that in fact, we have rolled back some of the progress made by the colonial masters who did their best for this their adopted land because they genuinely believed that if they didn’t, the locals wouldn’t. Or more like couldn’t. The native people were bush and barbarian and easy to conquer. Mirrors did the trick. So did gunpowder. And in return, they got the land. They got the slaves. They got the leaders. They got the brightest and best of the people. In short, they got everything.

But why didn’t we offer them ugwu? Or obi. Or efo tete. Or tuwo shinkafa. Or isi ewu. Or nkwobi? Or any of the plenty delicious delicacies the land is blessed with. If we had, today, we would be living off ofada exports, goat exports, etc to countries around the world. While they would be top importers of exotic Nigerian dishes. But no. We sold them our best men and women to go work for them so they could build the things to enslave the rest of us. Whoever taught up that strategy was ingenious.

You would think that we should, 56 years on, be able to take on and beat our colonial masters at their game. Again, no. The ties that bind us to the umbilical cord of our colonial masters is so strong that nothing can cut it. We have bought their crap; hook, line and sinker. From the brainwashing of our nation’s founders with their brand of education which is the one and only; to their bequeathing us a political legacy that is the exact opposite of anything we as a people are used to or comfortable with.

I could go on and on about how the apposite nonsensical nature of the imposition of their own way on our broad life has led to the messing up of our well-ordered lives. We are gleeful participants in the perpetuation of the modern day enslavement of our land which began ages ago. Our best brains are no longer here. They have gone abroad to develop those countries while here their countries of original origin suffer and wallow in corruption and bad leadership and bad followership and bad peopleship.

Our solution is as simple and plain as Pythagoras theorem; I wasn’t the brightest math pupil in secondary school so Pythagoras and python were similarly evil sounding to me and must be avoided at all costs. So, mathematics of any kind looked really hard and unreasonably harsh to me then. Today, it still looks like a pack of horse radish to me, and in truth that is exactly what the Nigerian problem looks like to me too. Unsolvable with one swish of the wand.

Should we stay as one country or should we break away into smaller countries with tenuous links to a weak centre? Should we devalue the naira fully or continue to hold on to a partial devaluation that hasn’t stemmed the downward spiral of the naira and the attendant recessive plunge of our lives into wide-eyed recession? Should we revolt and chase our leaders out with our votes or our voices or should we continue to watch them play eyi je eyi o je with our common wealth, our common heritage and children’s future? Should we go after corruption and the proceeds of it or should we face front and change gear in search of a solution that does not demonise the solution even if its ways are not as straight as a whistle?

There is no one solution for all Nigeria’s troubles. Nigeria sits precariously on the verge of failed nationhood. But in the true spirit of the average Nigerian, the God we serve in the hundreds of thousands of mosques and churches that dot every street corner and every second house in Nigeria, will spring us a miracle again and pull us back right from the brink. We are a people of prayer and hope and faith and belief and greed. Rather than change our individual ways and resolve to contributing our little quotas towards finding tiny but significantly practical solutions that can work for our dear nation, we pray. And stay our evil course. And bicker and fight ourselves over whose father’s farm is bigger. Or whose farm is the biggest. (Read in Yoruba please).

We are united by law but we are the most disunited and discordant nation under the sun that I know of. The things that divide us are more than those that unite us. What is there to celebrate at 56? Maybe the fact that we are still standing as one strong indivisible entity despite our best efforts to tear ourselves apart? Or we can celebrate the gift of life and the opportunity to see a new Nigerian year begin. We can celebrate the daily blossoming shoots of dead economic theories and policies and the free gift of oxygen. We can celebrate the fact that there is something to celebrate even if we didn’t hear clearly the words of our leader booming out of transistor, car and phone radios on Independence Day because there was no light to watch him on TV.

We are Nigerians and resilience is our middle name.