How Long?

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By Dapo Akande

For how long will our country continue to put forward it’s worst XI instead of it’s 1st XI team? For how long will our leaders portray a country blessed with some of the most brilliant minds anywhere in the world as “no good doers” who know how to say all the right things but whose sincerity somehow always comes into question when it comes to execution?

For how long will mediocrity be celebrated in our nation, confounding the rest of the world who see the genius of our people in their countries everyday? For how long will Nigeria be presented to the world in awfully bad light causing us to bow our heads in shame and disbelief? For how long will our leaders continue to blot out the dazzling stars that we are? For how long shall we continue to ascribe the alarming rate of unnecessary deaths to acts of God?

The average life expectancy in Nigeria is a pitiable 53 years compared to 71 years in wartorn Syria. Ponder on that for a moment. For how long will we question why we even bothered to go to school if at the end of the day, we’ll be overlooked in favour of another, who knows next to nothing? For how long will our leaders continue to ignore the most obvious solutions to the myriad of problems bedevilling our society in favour of a glaringly hopeless alternative, leaving the hapless people to pray and fast for a miracle that will invariably never come?

Two plus two will always equal four no matter how hard you pray or how deep in the sand you bury your head. For how long will our children continue to ask “Why?”. “Why is the country like this?” “Why do things not work?” “Why will my country not support me to fly like the eagle that I am?” “Why are my ambitions being deliberately thwarted by officials whose job it is to ensure I succeed?” “Why can I not move from point A to point B without the fear of being accosted or brutalised by those who swore an oath to serve and protect me?”

“Why do I feel as if I’m being sidelined or worse still, victimized for my God given talent?” “Why should I have to grovel and beg for what should be mine by right?” “Why is it that everyone appears to be so religious yet it’s the evil ones who seem to thrive?” “Why is our generation still praying for the same things your generation has been praying for, for so long?”

“Daddy, for how long will we continue to deceive ourselves and hope for a better future when tomorrow never seems to come?” “Why…Why…Why?”

Folks of my generation have offered their children every explanation in the book, in a vain attempt to convince them all will still be well. We began by uttering them with confidence, albeit contrived. We then appealed to their faith in God.

Unsuccessful yet again, we resorted to reversed psychology by chiding them for their unbelief. Before we knew it, we found ourselves attempting to temper their fury by empathizing with their frustrations. It soon dawns on us that we have come full circle and things are yet to change.

Filled with questionably placed patriotism, we sold them a vision of a good tomorrow. The same ones our parents sold us in adolescence and which many of us, refusing to give up hope, continue to sell ourselves even now in maturity.

Taking a good look around, it all begins to sound hollow and hollower by the day. No longer totally convinced ourselves, it becomes an increasingly herculean task to convince the other. For how long shall we continue to excuse the inexcusable? How many more stories can we tell our children, in good conscience? I think you’ll agree that one of the things which make us human and distinguishes us from robots is our individuality.

This extends to our threshold also and that’s why some who find themselves out of excuses, having exhausted all they could think of, to the same questions over the years, simply throw their hands up in surrender. They give up altogether and before you know it, whisk their children out as they wave with undisguised lament, “so long” to their country. With a deep sigh of relief and yet as if to console themselves too, they say to no-one in particular, “at least I tried”. For how long will this be our story? I wish I could answer that.

One day our children scattered across the diaspora will hear of that distant land where because of poor leadership, the sun was said to have smitten the people by day and the moon in solidarity, did same by night. But our prayer is that the story they’ll hear then, will be very different to the one we tell today.

We hope by then we would have transmuted from a nation where possible is selfishly made impossible to a nation where impossible becomes possible. We hope by then, our people here in Nigeria will be supported, enabled and given the opportunity to equal and even best the achievement of their kinsmen in foreign lands. We hope by then we would have gotten our groove back and will proudly display our full ability as a great people for the whole world to acknowledge and admire.

We hope by then, we shall no longer be a source of disappointment to our expectant African brothers because of our penchant to under perform, much like a man dancing with two left feet. And I hope this rallying cry will touch the heart of all, so this dream will one day become our reality. To all the above, may I please hear a loud Amen!

*#ENDSARS*…what do they say about an idea whose time has come? *It’s unstoppable*!!!

Changing the nation…one child at a time.

Oladapo Akande is a Surrey University (UK) English graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. He’s an alumnus of the National Institute for Transformation and a two time author; The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. He writes from Lagos.