It’s the people within a society that can only foster development. No one from the outside can transform your own home for you if you are not willing to. They can give you a helping hand, even give you furniture and designers but if you are not willing to, all the gifts, ideas and vision will waste.
No matter how much one runs away from Nigeria, you still miss home, you might not want to visit it but you still miss the sounds, the people and the feel of home. But can you really call a place where your mind is not at ease home or maybe it’s just the idea of Nigeria one misses, or what should have been Nigeria or the Nigeria one pictures when you remember books like Mallam Ila’s Passport or Drummer Boy or Zulu Sofola’ s My Father’s Daughter. All these books show you a distant Nigeria when people had excursions to different states, when security was good and we did not have to worry about herdsmen and Boko Haram and all the insecurity we currently have in Nigeria.
An era when Lagos was not the only functioning city; there was Ibadan, the sleeping giant city of Nigeria. I loved going to Ibadan as a child. It was like being in Government Reserved Area, I often wished we lived in Ibadan as a child rather than Lagos all the time, because it had the mixture of the modern and the rural, you could buy so many things cheap and then go back to your very quiet area. The houses were beautiful and you had goats running around everywhere with no one stealing them, it was just refreshingly different from Lagos, more relaxed with so much fresh air. In the 1980s and 1990s, Ibadan was developing into another city, and the burden wasn’t so much on Lagos because Port Harcourt, Warri, Kaduna and Kano were all major cities thriving with the influx of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, creed or religion.
I wonder what happened to that Nigeria! The Nigeria where children were so carefree and our pastime was counting advert billboards on the road and playing ten-ten whilst the boys play football on every street corner. Now all we have are Yahoo boys who have learnt it is not a bad thing to steal because the people in government have given them no choice by not providing jobs for young, able men and women.
With our vast resources, we have become the poverty capital of the world and our Senate still sit, for a country that is the poverty capital of the world, with their most expensive salaries in the world. Former Governor Rochas Okorocha said it all when he asked ‘why do we need so many senators for a state?’ Maybe it’s time we start thinking of a parliamentary system, the American system seesm not to work for our people; or we should go back to our traditional one where we have council of elders for each region.
Maybe we can use the money to build high-speed trains than can run Lagos to Ibadan journey in few minutes, and Lagos to Benin in one hour or Lagos to Abuja in two hours etc and vice versa, thereby fostering development in other areas, transforming cities to megacities and bringing more awareness to different regions.
Nigeria’s geographical positioning is so fantastic we should have been a gateway to the world, but who and how can we be a gate way to all regions of the world when we can’t even provide gateway to ourselves?
Our thinking should be bigger than what it is now; with our population and our entrepreneurial spirit, we should be leading Africa at the table, but as they say the youngest sometimes has to be the lead. Rwanda that had suffered so much loss has now become an example of how development can foster change and people’s mindset. It’s not so much as the government catering for its people but the people catering for change as well. With our mineral and human resources, we should never be a country that should ever be in the category of Poverty Capital of the world –– that is not my Nigeria. I am however optimistic of great transformation for this beautiful land.
May God bless our Nation.
Olu Da-Silva writes in from London, UK