Nigeria has lived for half a century and so have I. The question is, Ă˘€śHave we done wellĂ˘€ť? In other words, are we moving forward? Have we learnt anything from our past and so is our future bright? For those of us born at about the same period as Nigeria, these questions become very personal.
For me and many of my age mates, we seem to have been taken to a foreign country, a place where we canĂ˘€™t fit in and yet a place where we canĂ˘€™t escape from. Worse still, we are told time and time again by foreigners and Nigerians alike that, Ă˘€śNigeria is a bad place and the people are no goodĂ˘€ť. That is a lie!
Taking an imaginary time machine back to the Nigeria in the 60s, the phrase, Ă˘€śthe Police is your friendĂ˘€ť was what every child knew to be true. They were the people to look for if ever you were lost or needed help in crossing the road.
The 70s was when I was most proud to be a Nigerian. I was in Primary six at St, PatrickĂ˘€™s Catholic school, Yaba in 1971. Then as a young Ă˘€śWolf CubĂ˘€ť (junior scout) member, I would stand at the cross section of Harvey road and Herbert Macaulay streets, Yaba to direct heavy vehicular traffic. Officers and men of the Nigerian Army (NAEME workshop) in the area would stand at attention to salute me and I would return the salute. All motorists willingly obeyed. One-way traffic offenders from Harvey road did not need to be arrested as it is today. Offenders were simply made to go back by passersby. In todayĂ˘€™s Nigeria, several State and Local government Ă˘€śPoliceĂ˘€ť will make you hate the day you were born if you dare break even the simplest law; even when there are no signs post around to inform you of the law.
The 80s was great too. Students expected to be treated right and they were a force to be reckoned with. One day in 1980 as a student of the Federal Polytechnic, Idah, I noticed a build-up of student spoiling for war. When the studentĂ˘€™s affairs registrar came to enquire what the problem was, he was told that the chicken supplied to the canteen was too big and was likely to be vultures. The then Rector Dr. Chuckwujekwu had to direct the caterers to slaughter chickens in the open. It is worth pointing out here that meals were served free of charge back then and students could eat as much as they wanted. We even had tea-breaks between lectures. I mean free tea, milk and sugar. Ninety percent of my lecturers were qualified expatriates. Handouts were given free. StudentĂ˘€™s bursaries were paid to all and we were so proud to be Nigerians. Most of us did well in our studies. I graduated with a distinction (1st class).
Things started getting bad after my youth service in 1983.it all went wrong after President Shehu Shagari was overthrown in a military coup. It was then Nigerians heard the word, Ă˘€śegunjeĂ˘€ť (another word for bribe) for the first time. Second-hand vehicle, Ă˘€śTokunboĂ˘€ť also made their inroad into Nigeria. Nigerians also learnt of Cocaine and other hard drugs trade. The office of the first lady became so glamourized and powerful. Any opposition was brutally cut down. Parcel bomb was also introduced.
Ă˘€Â¦ I weepĂ˘€Â¦
How did it come to this? The rule of my beloved country was taken over by lesser men. Charlatans ruled. Mediocrity was promoted. National awards were cheapened. Sycophancy grew. Moral instructions in school were lost.
Ă˘€Â¦ Again I weepĂ˘€Â¦
My only consolation now is that I and people of my generation know the truth. It is not the Nigeria masses that are bad; it is just a handful of men. Men who will can still wrestle power from through the ballot box. My people, Nigerians are good people. We are a people who will not see a person in need and walk past. We are a people who are always ready to have a fresh start whenever we believe it to be real.
For me, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.
Ă˘€Â¦ NIGERIA GO BETTER!
(PUBLISHED IN THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS; Sunday,26th Sept 2010, pg.29)
(By Engr Andrew Abulu, MNSE. Civil Engineer, Futurologist, Animated film producer)
NGEX welcomes and encourages reader comments. Permission to post reader comments is assumed, and we reserve the right to excerpt or edit for clarity any comments that are posted. We won't be able to publish all comments. And we can't vouch for the accuracy of posts from readers. Nickname or Name will be used to identify your post.
"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."