Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Nigeria I Saw. Why are we that Wicked by Kayode Ogundamisi

I Touched down at the Lagos International airport on the 11th June 2008,
It’s been two process of exile since 1999 one was forced on me, and from 2003 I decided to make it a self imposed exile away from my motherland ever since 1999, Making it a point of duty to visit home at intervals.
As one with the love of my homeland I visit home at every election, one to take part in the election and campaign for those I think can make a change, two to be a part of the movement that won’t give up on Nigeria.
I still run a centre for self empowerment in Lagos and I am proud that the centre does not need me anymore as the good people who started it with me are not only making it viable but are taking it to the next level.
My recent trip to Nigeria is the most emotional of all. I could not but feel proud of the positive things taking place in Lagos State. I make bold to say that Lagos is cleaner and neater than Napoli (Naples) in Italy. But we need to do more, the slums need help.
The thrust of my visit home was not to see the city and the new cars that is now the craze of the new Nigerian upper class, or the massive European style malls springing up in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
My visit was to see that Nigeria a lot of Nigerians don’t want to see. I visited the villages, spending 20 of my 30 days in the hinterland.
I was in Shaki an exotic town in the west, Shalla a hilly piece of beauty on the Plateau, Ikare the land of my late dad and Kaiama in the Niger Delta and host of others.
On every occasion as I eat , sleep, drink, weep with those forgotten Nigerians,
I cannot but ask why leaders, rulers and the elite in Nigeria are so evil, why we mistake development to denote the number of cars we own, the number of times we visit Europe, the number of parties we host, the style of our mobile phones and not the future of our children and the underprivileged. Why are we the most religious in the world and yet filled with wickedness and class urban mentality.
Abuja is a scandal to our national psyche it shows how heartless we are, it is an example of how we can make Nigeria work if we want to make it work, but how those in power chose to create heaven in hell for comfort.
On one hand in Abuja you see a master piece were the ruling elite live in heaven, 10 kilometres to that heaven you see were the Rufais of this world drove the common man into slums, rather than build affordable estates for all, they build mansions for the thieves
I did visit a pal of mine, he is a good man but he is now a personal aid to the President, visiting him I asked how much he gets paid, two hundred thousand naira a month he said, unmm fair but he is being accommodated in Trancorp Hilton, he’s been living in the hotel since October 2007 and guess what the federal government of Nigeria gets to pay the hotel forty nine thousand naira a night, what a waste.
I met some of my friends who are now senators, some in the house of reps and any attempt to draw their attention to the plight of our people in the hinterland was like me singing in welsh. One of them said to me “ I beg Sankara e be like say u don too tay for abroad, look for contract and enjoy your life”.
In fact a Senator from Kwara state, whose brother is now the Landlord of the State wrote me a mail on FB stating why don’t u see anything good in Nigeria, how dare you say Abuja was built with blood oil money from the delta.
I left Abuja wondering how we got this characters elected or is it selected. In Abuja a friend of mine who lived in Houston USA met with me he was determined to make a change he said “Kay we can’t leave the space for this charlatan’s, you need to come back home” I left him thinking unmm what a great idea and I must say I admire his courage, leaving the comfort of the United States for Nigeria is a brave move and I hope we all follow his footsteps.
Nigeria is the best place in the world. Our people are strong, the common man never gives up and all we need is that leader with the will power to mobilize the good in us all, we must walk the walk and stop talking, we must stop those all night vigil in church and start doing God’s work, we must stop the hypocrisy of life and live life.
I did not see a dying Nigeria, I saw hope, I saw a people ready to move but with weak leaders, rogues in government, I saw that young man with a masters degree in the palm Lagos, he works as a security Guard gets paid stipends but still hope for a better Nigeria, I saw that lady prostitute near Unilag who told me she is a final year law student but she is not going to give up on Nigeria, I visited friends in the public sector who have low expectation of today but great vision of a great Nigeria.
We can’t but hold our leaders to account, as I leave Lagos for the UK, I took a final glance at the Lagos landscape and that message painted on the rainbow was Kayode Ogundamis you are more Nigerian than You are British. We must never give up on a better future for that contraption called NIGERIA.
By Kayode Ogundamisi
Wood green London
July 2008.
Convener: The Liberty Forum. UK