Opinion: In Nigeria, every man for himself, God for us all By NIRAN ADEDOKUN

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Beyond the fundamental issue of bread and butter, that is the ability to feed at all not to speak of having three square meals, Nigeria is becoming too precarious for the ordinary citizen to live in and the Federal Government seems to be too flustered to restore the people’s confidence. Nigerians have then been suddenly left to devise their own means of survival as criminals have become increasingly audacious and their activities more pervasive. At the end of the day, only Nigeria loses, possibly in irrecoverable ways.

The first quarter of 2019 has barely ended and I can count 10 families, at least, who do not fall into the helplessly hungry statistics that the world throws at Nigeria. These families have sold off all their possessions, grabbed their children, packed their baggage and left the country for places they think hold better promises. The last of the families is set to leave in the first week of May for Canada. Properties acquired in the course of a 10-year period have been sold off, tickets bought, and all is set for that appointed day. This family comprises of a young man of 35, a first-class brain who worked with an international consultancy firm until lately, an extraordinarily brilliant wife and mother of three, who has tried everything from banking to entrepreneurship and ended up disillusioned by the lack of support that Nigeria offers, and three promising children who may have turned out to be any of the Dangotes, Leo Stan Ezes or Asas of their generation.

This couple and their children have become the latest testament of the brain drain that is fast eroding a chunk of the future of the world’s most populous black nation. For in two years or less, these kids and thousands of others, who have left in similar circumstances in the past few years, will forget that they ever lived in this uncaring country. They would have transferred all their love and loyalty to the place that gave them a home, saved their parents from the quarterly headache of outrageous fees that they reel out for the sub-standard education provided here and given them a new lease of boundless life. They will speak in new tongues that most of their peers in Nigeria cannot understand and have competences that this system would never have access to.

But, as worrisome as the migration of some of Nigeria’s current and future best is, the real tragedy is that Nigeria does not even realise the trouble in the fact that nearly all its future is deserting ahead of time. Nigerians have left the country,  they keep leaving and are planning to leave, while the authorities look on like nothing is happening.

A couple of weeks ago, I rode in the same vehicle with a lady I got acquainted with at the Ikoyi, Lagos Passport office.  This woman, let us call her Bridget, thinks Nigeria is the most irredeemable place that God ever made.

Unlike a lot of compatriots whose frustration with the country grew with time, Bridget had always wanted to live out of Nigeria, but she unfortunately got married to a man who cut short her dream.

He had gotten her under the false pretence that he supported her plans to relocate and led her on to believe that he also had no faith in the country and that they were going to start living out of the country immediately after they received their conjugal blessings. But the moment the man got what he wanted, aunty discovered that she was on a ‘long’ thing!

But oga has also seen the light lately. He now laments about how much he toils and how much it comes to nothing and how he is willing to go with his wife’s desire to leave Nigeria by all means. Husband and wife are now collaborating and working at a feverish pace to check out of Nigeria.

In the close to three-hour ride that I had with Bridget on the day in question, no argument as to Nigeria’s bright future and the need to stay back to salvage it made sense to my new friend. She had a counter for everything I said. She asked where the hope for Nigeria laid and when it would manifest. I spoke about racism and discrimination in foreign land, but she replied by asking if it wasn’t worse in Nigeria where people pay their way out of official costs to obtain travel passport (ordinarily their rights), but get abused and harassed by public officers, who imagine that they are doing their fellow citizens favours but go ahead to give preferential treatment to those very important personalities or those who are able to pay more. It was clear that this lady and her family have again been lost to some western country where systems work and children have almost painless access to quality education.

That is, perhaps, the easiest way out for many of our compatriots, who do not just desire to make their own lives better but are more concerned about the future of their children. And that is as much about the quality of education that has continued to elude us as it is about the level of insecurity in the country.

Within the last two weeks, hundreds of Nigerians have been killed in an assortment of circumstances that seem to suggest that death just lurks in the corner anyways. A young man, the son of a widow, who was recently inducted into medical practice was walking on the streets of Lagos and he was stabbed and bled until he died. His colleagues at the Lagos State University could not save him. In another part of Lagos, another young man was watching a football match and he was shot to death by some policemen.

But, of course, there have been more killings around the country.  Cult gangs have been on the rampage in Rivers State and bandits had unleashed violence on defenceless citizens in Kaduna last weekend, killing, maiming, kidnapping and setting their victims’ properties on fire; that is not to speak of Zamfara State, which has remained a killing field for months on end. Banditry has indeed taken over the North-Western states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto. The Boko Haram insurgency has resurged with venom in Borno and Yobe states as Taraba also woke up to violence earlier this week. In Ondo State, armed robbers attacked a bank and killed seven people two days ago, just as the horror of kidnappings across the country seem to have come to stay.  In fact the crime has become such a routine on the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway that Governor Nasir el Rufai’s convoy recently encountered a blockade mounted by the criminals.

And when people are not killed in such violent circumstance, the system kills them by its lack of care. Thank goodness that ace footballer, Christian Chukwu, is said to have finally secured help for his medical challenge, but his story clearly shows why it will be difficult to guarantee anyone’s loyalty to this country.

The former captain of Nigeria’s national football team is a perfect example of the country’s abandonment of its duty of care on its citizens. Chukwu has played football for Nigeria since he was in his 20s. He was also at some point a national football coach. But, now in his 50s, there is nothing like a basic health insurance that could have forestalled the public appeal his family and friends had to put up last week.

So when you have a country that cannot educate its children (over 13 million of children under the age of 10 are out of school currently), provide jobs for its youths or even secure their lives or take care of its senior citizens, what you have is nothing but disloyalty manifesting in various forms. When people do not leave the country by whatever means they find possible, they take it back on the country by dipping their hands into corrupt practices or even engaging in criminal activities. Others take solace in the ability of God to turn things around. Anyhow it is, Nigerians are on their own, each one finding his own means of survival when it is obvious that the resident can only announce his sadness and the defence minister is looking for scapegoats in some unnamed traditional rulers. Punch

 

 

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