A letter to my father on the state of our country

(By Chiedu Uche Okoye)

Daddy, now, an Ijaw man in bowler hat from the oil rich marshy creek of Bayelsa is the president of Nigeria. We voted him into office because his tale of poverty resonated with us. He regaled us with how he walked bare-footed to in the scorching African sun. Nigerians believed him that someone of their background had emerged at last. And, he appears to have the virtues of simplicity and humility. His fishermen kinsmen are happy that one of their own is now controlling the affairs of Nigeria. Whether others are happy is a mute point.

I KNOW that this letter will come to you as a surprise since letter writing is not the fad anymore in Nigeria. In fact, nowadays, Nigerians seldom write letters home to their parents. We are in the internet age, so they post their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, or YouTube and send messages via them.

  Sadly, in Nigeria, the art of letter-writing is dying with its concomitant effects. Many job-seekers who are university graduates do make a mess of letter-writing when they are asked to write application letters for jobs. It is that bad. Before they write such simple letters, they consult English Language text books or they will enlist the help of those who will write the letters for them.

  But, daddy, things are changing for the better in our country now. You have been yearning for news about Nigeria since your transition to the spiritual dimension many years ago. Daddy, the good news is that the Obasanjo clan has revived the art of letter-writing in Nigeria. They wash their dirty linens in public via open letters. Now, millions of Nigerians are emulating them. This will have a salutary effect on our dysfunctional educational system as people busy themselves reading books that cut across various disciplines so as to become good letter writers.

  But, daddy, my purpose of writing this letter to you is to relay to you the happenings in our country, Nigeria, which will determine its future. Chinua Achebe, the inimitable, story-teller, diagnosed Nigeria as having leadership problem. That problem hasn’t abated. Rather, bad political leadership is the bane of Nigeria.

  Before 1999, the military misruled Nigeria for the greater part of her independence years. Obasanjo, as our president, frittered away the opportunity given to him to take Nigeria to a great technological height. He reportedly pumped billions of naira into the power sector without much to show for it. During his eight-year stay in office, he failed to rehabilitate the road that leads to Ota, his home town. His successor, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, died while in power.

  Daddy, now, an Ijaw man in bowler hat from the oil rich marshy creek of Bayelsa is the president of Nigeria. We voted him into office because his tale of poverty resonated with us. He regaled us with how he walked bare-footed to in the scorching African sun. Nigerians believed him that someone of their background had emerged at last. And, he appears to have the virtues of simplicity and humility. His fishermen kinsmen are happy that one of their own is now controlling the affairs of Nigeria. Whether others are happy is a mute point.

So, now, the Niger-Delta region, which used to be a theater of war, has become relatively peaceful. The government has granted the militants amnesty, and many of them are studying abroad or learning some trade in some foreign countries.

  But, the northern region, especially the North-East, is the hot-bed of violence now.  A mini-civil war is raging there with its disastrous effects. A group called Boko Haram has been attacking public buildings and churches and killing people relentlessly since 2009 in the north. Members of this group are opposed to western civilization, and they want the enthronement of Islamic theocracy in Nigeria. Perhaps, President Jonathan’s occupation of the highest political post in Nigeria is their grouse, too. They once asked him to convert to Islamic religion as a condition for their putting down their arms. The Federal Government has failed to dislodge and defeat the Boko Haram insurgents despite the fact that a state of emergency has been declared in the northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

  In the South-East, kidnapping wealthy people for ransom is a booming and thriving business. Not a few Nigerians had been kidnapped; and, they didn’t regain their freedoms until they paid millions of naira as ransom. So, our political elite lives behind fortresses guarded by private security men, and drive in bullet-proof cars. More so, no day passes without tales of armed robbers’ savagery and banditry flooding our social media and airwaves. These days, armed robbers storm banks, and rob them unchallenged for hours. Insecurity of lives and property pervades our country now.

  But, the upsurge in criminal activities may not be unconnected with the high unemployment rate in Nigeria. An adage says that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Millions of university graduates cannot find lucrative employment after leaving the universities many years back. Many who have jobs are under-employed. Is this unpalatable situation not a recipe for the escalation of criminal activities?

  Sadly, our political leaders are busy mapping out strategies on how to win elective posts in 2015 instead of thinking out ways on how to diversify our economy and create job opportunities for millions of unemployed Nigerians. Some rebellious members of the PDP have defected to APC where they can achieve their political goals. However, PDP and APC are much of a muchness; no ideological differences exist between them.

  Now, the number of APC members in the National Assembly has swelled. The PDP rump is trying to pick up the pieces of its existence. But, the exchange of threats between pro-Jonathan people and the anti-Jonathan group is heating up the polity. It’s a portent of doom for us. Nigerians are watching the unfolding events with bated breath.

The situation is a cliffhanger.

• Okoye, lives in Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State. 

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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