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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Telling a Story He Can't Tell: 2


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1999 was a remarkable year not only for Sam but also for the entire country. It was a year his country (Nigeria) transited to democratic government, after a prolonged military regime. With the adoption of a democratic system of government and imbibing of democratic principles, most people were full of hopes and expectations. The ecstasy with which his fellow country men and women ushered in the nascent democracy did not surprise anyone because of the obvious psychic damages and a great deal of sufferings people claimed they had gone through under the military regime. The euphoria which greeted the leadership in Nigeria made most people think that it would unite people and give everyone equal sense of belonging. But after a decade of democratic practice, the people have not yet felt what it means to be in a democratic government. Nigerians still leave like they are in a military government. There is no freedom of information. Journalists are sliced to death everyday like chickens for publishing the truth. People are harassed for expressing their views. Nigerians still live in a country where you see the truth and cover it because you want to live the next day. Everyone is afraid of dying for telling the truth! 

There is no respect for human dignity. It has become unfortunate that when Nigerians look at themselves in the face all they see is intolerance. An Igbo man sees in the face of an Hausa man religious bigotry and insecurity; and in the face of a Yoruba man, he sees betrayal and hypocrisy. An Hausa man sees in an Igbo man’s face ethnicity and ethnic minority; and in the face of a Yoruba man, he sees nepotism and indignation. A Yoruba man sees in the face of an Igbo man ravenousness and distinctiveness; and in the face of an Hausa man he sees extremism and indifference. There is high sense of ethnocentrism and tribalism among different ethnic groups. Commonality has gone into obsolescence. The leadership has become more confused and porous than it was before. There is high rate of poverty in the country; hardship has quadrupled.

Sam grew up in a very poor and backward environment where attainment of university degree is a feat; where the only hope of a young man or woman who wants to break away from the recyclable poverty is education; where they celebrated electricity like the coming of messiah because they were used to living in the dark; where women give birth at home because there were no health facilities; where women get pummeled by men for refusing to have sex and men get a pat on the back and women rebuked afterwards; and where a lot of things go wrong and people live like everything is normal. After 30 years of Sam’s existence in this part of the world, he still lives in the same circumstances he grew up with. It has even become worse. Sam still see over 70% of his population who live under $1 per day; poverty has been recycled to the extent that it has become recalcitrant; he still read the same headlines he read as a growing kid on high rate of unemployment and inflation; he still see kids running up and down the streets butt naked during school hours because their parents cannot afford school fees; he still see women being chased out of the hospitals after fortnight of delivery because they cannot afford the bills; Sam still read the same stories of a poor man sentenced to jail for stealing his neighbour’s cocoyam and stories about how charges against a rich man who defiled a teenager was dismissed; he still read the same headlines about how the society lynch young men and women who were caught pilfering and celebrate high net worth criminals when they are acquitted after stealing public funds; he still see children die every day of hunger, malaria, cholera, and the list continues; he still read reports of people being sent to jail, tortured and put to death because their opinions are in opposition to the government; Sam still live in a country where the poor are sliced every day by the institutions of government that are supposed to serve as havens and the rich live in glamorous houses, drive flashy cars and dress swanky; he still live in a country where nothing works and people pretend everything works fine.  Not even the transition to democracy has changed anything.

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