Do you know there was a time when the value of our naira is equivalent to a US dollar? In fact, I learnt of the a moment when naira had more value than USD. Buried are those days when Nigeria was a nation on the hill having been characterized by worldwide renowned prospects. She is presumably the first black nation whose ultra-expensive resources pose threat to the world imperialists. In less than a century, even the tales of her greatness are being forgotten by her people.
Unfortunately, many of those who witnessed this historic time have either died or have grown a dementia of it. There’s been a tectonic shift in her values and governance, and thus even her historical books have become fairy tales. A comparison of archives of yesterday with the chronicle today is enough to make a sane man weep bitterly as the future of my dear nation is in peril. I weep for Nigeria.
I was never part of her problem. In fact, I am a victim of her pulled-misfortune. It wasn’t my generation that offended her gods, why should my children and I get the biggest share of her suffering. I weep for Nigeria because the generation of Wole Soyinka, Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Adeola Odutola, Ebenezer Obey, Giwa Bisi Rodipe, Chief Alfred Rewane and the likes have failed Nigeria. I openly indict them because they were carried away by the ceaseless euphoria that none of them could foresee the abyss Nigeria has fallen into today. I was born into a country that hasn’t offered me a fortune but in whom I haven’t given up hope of receiving my lot of citizenry even after innumerable disappointments. To who do I run, Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Justin Trudeau, Kim Jong-un or Cyril Ramaphosa?
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My nation has become a subject of global mockery. A 59 years old self-governance but with nothing to boast of. A failed democracy with spoiled applesauce cum vested-interest born policies. A nation that cannot even produce a common toothpick. Though nature cherished but whose foods are still being imported. A nation whose people has no faith in the genuineness of her produce. Nigeria produce the best wine, the palm-wine, in the world, and yet we are one of the greatest importers of wine, spirit, champagne and juice from Europe. Now palmwine is no longer acceptable even to the orishas to which it was sometimes dedicated: Imported spirits are now used to appease the gods. She would rather order expensive brands abroad and still gloat. Oh! I weep for Nigeria.
Oftentimes, I reckon within myself that the nationalists who bolted the move for independence must be turning in their graves. Indeed, Nigeria was not yet ripe for self-governance as at the time when the movement was launched on a national scale. The recorded prosperous time in the nation was when she was paddled with the blueprints of her colonialists. Oh, I weep for today’s Nigeria. Damn well, there was a time when things were working in Nigeria. I have learnt of several companies, industries and plants that are moribund today.
There was a time when Nigeria had a truly strong economy and the naira was one to the dollar – even exchanged for higher than the USD, but that Nigeria is not this Nigeria. Sadly that Nigeria was emplaced by the British, and this Nigeria fueled by the damaging Indigenization Decree, has been the creation of her modern leaders who are not only economically less inclined, but as well whose ideas just don’t fit into the intents of the nationalists that paved her independence and unfortunately cannot stir development.
Records have it of a time when Nigeria had a booming economy. A time when she was either the top or among the top exporters of timbre, cocoa, groundnuts, rubber and
palm oil in the world. A time when Nigerians only study abroad and didn’t holidayed in London, New York city and Washington DC but at Erin-Ijesha water falls, at Yankari Games Reserve, at Obudu Cattle Ranch, at Oguta Lake, at Ikogosi springs, at Gurara Falls, at Mambilla Platueau amogst others. She even attracted international investors and tourists who brought in loads of foreign exchange. Even Nigerian schools were foreign currency earners as they attracted students from across the world.
Where are our groundnut pyramids? I grew up to notice a Peugeot only sales and repair shop in Olunlade-Ilorin and read of Peugeot, Volkswagen and Anamco assembly plants situated in strategic places across the country. Nigerian government officials during this age-long time only bought vehicles assembled in Nigeria for official cars. Boeing jets of Nigeria Airways was then flying and world renowned pilots were produced at the northern-Nigeria situated Aviation School.
For the few who witnessed these days and are fortunately still alive and sane, have you ever asked where the likes of “Lennards and Bata” school shoe producing companies are today. There were records of local sport clubs. Who sabi Man-U and Chelsea then – who dem help? Nigerians celebrated the likes of Rangers and IICC. Even the Nduka Odizors and the likes enabled people make money from sports. I’ve read that during these days, meritocracy was a working model. You are celebrated and rewarded for absolute brilliance. Today it so seemed like Nigeria’s got no textile mill but it interest me to tell you that the 1957 built Kaduna textile Mill was once operational but now in a comatose state.
It is saddening that a country of 200 million estimated population of absolute fashion conscious people does not own a textile industry. Oh, I weep for Nigeira. Even our traditionally cherished Aso-Ebi is now modified and made in Switzerland. Where is the popular Kingsway Stores of the past? The likes of SPAR and Shoprite have dominated the retail industry while Kingsway is permanently buried. I didn’t get to visit any Kingsway stores but I remember sometimes in my childhood days when it was considered an insult should someone tell you “ojú e dàbíi ojú bèbíi kingsway”.
Even the once Ijebu country of the present day Ogun state whose forest is characterised by sturdy trees like Obese, Iroko and mahogany, and of course was once filled with millionaire timber merchants today imports inferior doors and other furniture items from China and other countries thus keeping her own people in the Army of the unemployed. I weep for Nigeria. Today we now have government at different levels boosting of how they’ve imported home-interior appliances from Europe and Asia. Gone were the days when the likes of Governor Adekunle Ajasin of old Ondo State would look for furniture makers in Akure, the state capital, to furnish government apartments. The situation today is that we are importing settees from China and fake bullet-proof doors from China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
We are the beggar sitting on a throne of gold. Exactly what policy is going to be implemented that will turn Nigeria into a top exporting economy in the near term? How exactly can a community or a country be wealthy if it does not drink its own wine, wear its own cloths, eat its own food or produce its own furniture? Which kind of society would the youths prefer second hand clothes from Europe and rags from the United States to new clothes made in their own country? Its only a country that had lost her moral values that would hype distant country better than their own soil.
Today it is only a poor Nigerian that will prefer to seek medical attention at a public hospital, of course the opulent travel to countries like India just to get rid of an headache. We send our children to school overseas to acquire the necessary modern exposure and accents to come back home and bamboozle the ‘bush and crass’ contemporaries that they left behind. We pay our celebrities enough for them to ship the funds abroad to get wedded, have their honeymoon and shoot their movies and music videos. A way of telling us their levels have changed. All the musicians who acknowledge their Surulere roots now speak in a cocktail of strange accents to symbolise how much they have blown their monies overseas. Damn, I weep for Nigeria.
Next time you see your wife driving an American Spec Jeep, wearing hair from India, blouse from Italy, shoes from Spain, wristwatch from Japan, jean pant from the United States, wearing designer clothes and carry designer bags – Armani, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton etc. while serving you rice grown in Thailand as you are seated on a chair made in China, while savouring wine produced in South Africa, you know who to blame for your brother’s unemployment. Carry on with your love of French wines and Chinese silk, don’t bother about celebrating Christopher Danjuma and Asisat Oshoala when there is Christiano Ronaldo and Arsene Wenger.
Stock up on your Italian, American, British cologne and wristwatches which you cannot live without, including that ‘baby soft’ toilet rolls produced only in that small unique village in England. Don’t even consider holidaying or seeking medical attention for your headache in Nigeria, after all it’s too dangerous. It saddens me that everything that is perceived good in Nigeria is imported. Virtually nothing is being produced and exported. Just tell me, how can put our economy improve when so many things aren’t working. To how many countries have Innoson successfully exported her motors. Oh God! I’m sad for Nigeria.
Today, crude oil makes up about 90% our national revenue and without this we have no economy. Suffice it to say the demise of crude is tantamount to us possessing zilch. Nigeria’s “balance of payment” is nothing worth referencing. No one buys made-in-Nigeria school bags for their children, after all there is no Superman or Incredible Hulk or Cinderella on them. We put our political leaders in office just for them to syphon public money to acquire properties across the world. The last binge session was a roaring time. So great was the time that one of the servants of the republic used N1.5 billion to charter aircrafts for official and private use within a space of 24 months.
Another bought two cars worth more than N150 million. One of top guy had his bank account full to the brim to the extent that he had to keep some of the extra cash in the septic tank of his house. Now the party is over. Today we have the EFCC and ICPC still gathering public wealth from private individuals and the fight seems not to have a end in view. It would be good for the experts to deliberate how to take us out of this pass. Now look around you tell me, is there anything worth celebrating in Nigeria. Naira to USD will someday shoot up to 1,000. Don’t you dare think it cannot get there.
Consequently, Jejeniwa Olamilekan (D’Oracle) will not continue not to apply his natively accumulated knowledge and experience within the frontiers of his nation accompanied with associated ethics of humanity to start an agitation to change the state of things before all eventually becomes worse and his dear Nigeria becomes unredeemable. As I conclude this edition, I want you to ask yourself a simple question, how exactly have Nigeria benefitted from indigenization?
©Jejeniwa Olamilekan Samson (D’Oracle)
♧Mass Communication Graduate, Federal Polytechnic Offa.