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THE QUESTIONS, THE ANSWERS

Ede Nida Eghafona
Benin City, Nigeria
Having breakfast with my family was something I had come to enjoy because it was something we rarely did.  On this particular morning, "we" (which consisted of my parents, brothers and I) sat on the dining table having a very simple meal. And of course there was no power, we had burned off the fuel the night before powering the little monstrosity of a bungalow we lived in. I am from a fairly average Nigerian home, the type that can afford to buy the daily paper and read about the crises, but really never played a role in it.

My dad always insisted that we ended breakfast together, it is ‘’rude, improper and discourteous to leave the table while others ate’’ he will often say. Well, in such situations I have to play the good child who, though eager to leave the table and probably engage in some mundane task, will sit back and slowly scoop, bail or bite on her meals depending on which of the listed actions are required. Normally, these meals will usually involve one of the most intrusive dinning offences; chit chatting and my brothers will turn it into a heavy bout of argument. More often than not, they argued, pondered and argued again all about the same old over flogged topic; good old corruption stricken, insurgent Nigeria. And seeing that I had to obey the ‘‘no leaving the breakfast table rule’’ and while the ‘’no talking on the breakfast table’’ was considered somewhat trivial, I stayed back took my last sip of water and listened to my father and brothers debate on the usual topic: Nigeria. So at that moment I began to ponder in soliloquy.


Why do we have power outage? Why can't I have stable power to iron out my school clothes and why do we constantly need to personally drill the ground to get water? I had learnt at primary school level that we are the giant of Africa, so I wondered, what is a country without its power supply? I had barely answered one when another crept up.  It is quite embarrassing that after 54 years of independence in a global uprising world, we cannot boast comfortably of constant power supply . But still of course I will flush red with embarrassment if I were to be slightly emotionally distressed about my country. She is one of the largest producers of crude oil but yet one of the top importers of its refined product.  Her farm lands booms,bust and seasons with tomatoes but yet ‘topees’ ‘lula’ and other tomato purees still come in as a large percentage of her imports. Should I even dwell on cassava? It will have been incredible if we could locally produce our starches and ethanol instead of paying service charges to import them. And then the next question arises

Where will we keep the proceeds we will so arduously get if we could produce more and import less?

Should we trust our banking system enough to save our money? I mean the other day, I read about a CEO of a very prominent bank who embezzled so much of the depository money that she could literally start up a country of her own. Will you then ask us to trust the banking sector? Has the unexplained ‘missing money’ in the central bank been accounted for? Should we keep hearing fragmented pieces of the patched up answers? Should we keep accepting the lie ?or are we scared of the consequences the truth might bring?

I often hear people speak of a better Nigeria and this sounds like a children’s fairytale to me. I cannot quite decipher if we are speaking of getting better positively or negatively. I mean, good precedes better as it’s comparative so I often wonder how we can make a thing, person or place better if it is not already relatively “good”. Except if we want to get better at corruption and our innumerable and seemingly unquestionable vices. In my candid opinion we should first of all speak of a good Nigeria and then we will slowly,carefully and hopefully build on that. Then arises the next question which has quite understandably remained rhetorical:
“How do we make Nigeria Good?”
Do we clear up the present leadership?  Or do we psychologically and morally purge ourselves with a cleansing broth?  We unarguably know exactly what to do but still we choose to ignore. There are so many papers stating or suggesting ways out of the current poverty situation,unemployment and insurgency. There are talks on terminating corruptions and on free and fair elections. For this cause are conferences,summits,meet ups etcetera.  So the bitter truth is that we are well aware of our problems, so much so that we have created intelligent, excellent and laudable solutions out of them.  And because we are so aware of the problems and the solutions, our governmental cabinet can now debate on nugatory and cloddish  matters like child marriage while we still remain chin deep in a gradually crumbling economy with an embarrassingly low growth rate per capita income and  insecurity. Still we can hopefully speak of posterity. Which posterity? There cannot be posterity without a today. So what constitutes our present? Our today. What are our daily practices like? What is the bulk of our actions geared towards? Do we flaunt traffic rules? Do we ignore instructions and bans? Do we take bribes, however seemingly inconsequential they may be? Do we connive to put our electoral candidate on seat all because of personal benefits? Do we litter the environment because we see no bins?  Do we usurp the law all because we are involved in breaking it? Are we bunkering oil? Are we being honest?

These questions might be infinite, but they are anything but rhetorical, they demand answers and honest ones too.  So the next time you counter societal actions, scrutinize yourself. We cannot be saints, and of course to flaw is inevitable because even the best economies and most prosperous nations are still tackling the problem of corruption but at the very least. We should make conceited effort to better ourselves and minimise our involvement in societal ills. So the next time you stand on a podium to talk on the future of Nigeria’s posterity, remember your sins of the day before. Whenever you want to condemn corruption, please slowly return the bribe you took at the checkpoint and whenever you get the urge to rain heaps of insults on the political system, go back to your immediate association and make sure your garment is stain free.  We agree that the sins of our leaders might be beyond remission but our own sins should not be. In the eventuality of it all, we can only effect positive change and speak confidently of the country’s posterity if we sit down, quietly and answer these thought provoking and conscience searching questions. Until we (the leaders and the masses) do this, I fear we might keep up with the summits, conferences and fancy speeches with no notable positive change. And of course going on and on unto deterioration with all bark and no bite. I believe that Nigeria and Africa will get better. I love them and hence I believe.
So my Dear Nigerians and Africans, we must first of all agree that the change commences with us, we must agree that we are the salvation that we seek and then we will be able to positively change our society, country and world at large. 

Viva Nigeria! Viva Africa!!




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