(Samuel Ufot Ekekere)
“If there was a dream, our nationalists would have been focused. They would have seen the Nigeria of the future years great and they would have sacrificed so much to keep the unity for the dream. But no, there was no dream except for the selfish interest of individual leaders who saw their own as the common good, the reason for leadership tussle just a few years into independence“.
I RELISH the thought of a Nigerian dream though I’ve not grown to hear one. I grew up along with my peers at school celebrating the American dream and the hard work of the founding fathers of America who took their time to create a road map for future generations that is of many years to come. We were here in Nigeria and we knew so much of the American dream, but we never heard of a Nigerian dream that our founding fathers had set for us.
My mental picture of the Nigerian dream was only its use as a topic to attract essays from students of our secondary and tertiary institutions. I never heard the government speak so boldly about such a dream until recently when I heard it exists on television political campaigns of politicians. I am disillusioned by the un-substantiating of this dream on paper for my fellow countrymen and for me who want a platform upon which we can propel the next big move towards the dream’s actualisation.
The question that often pummels my thinking faculty when I notice the wanton waste that characterises the Nigerian system, the seemingly no destination zigzag motion and the sarcastic unplanned direction that our leaders expect we take along with them is “was there really a Nigerian dream”?
I’ve heard statements like “dreams of our founding fathers”. In actual sense, the knowledge and understanding of what the dreams entail is beyond near knowledge. Our past leaders and founding fathers should have written them down and ensured they were stored as national monuments to be read as often as possible as we can on our local channels of information. Those men were just too busy with fighting for power bloc and resources for them to have cared so much about the future generation.
Did our past leaders even have the capacity to dream? The obsession for independence had overshadowed the thoughts of our founding fathers. They had failed to plan towards the future. They left no goals and no ambitions. They were so engrossed with conditions for unity that they had no plans for the years after they decided to forge a united front. Though they toiled so hard to have their desire achieved, beyond the desire, they towed the nation to a dead end.
If there was a dream, our nationalists would have been focused. They would have seen the Nigeria of the future years great and they would have sacrificed so much to keep the unity for the dream. But no, there was no dream except for the selfish interest of individual leaders who saw their own as the common good, the reason for leadership tussle just a few years into independence.
True, the world knew Nigeria was an emerging giant. Her talents, capacity and resources were matchless. Our fathers had this knowledge, too. They saw possibilities of immediate benefits but there was no concrete plan for the future. They only looked at the gains of their day; beyond that, they left the future to those who would live in it.
The years that followed independence proved how futile the efforts of our founding fathers were. Though, we had gained independence from our colonial masters, we had failed to get independence from Mr. dreamless. He mocked at our leaders as they danced to the joy of independence and waited there at a corner for the future when he would be needed and would not be found.
The last time there was a dream, it was the aspirations of the colonial masters to make enormous profit from the sufferings of our fathers. Our colonial masters built railways, established religion, introduced formal education, built roads, created sea ports and built hospitals in our land, all of which to aid the development of their own economy. Our fathers thought they were wise and had won against our colonial masters when they got independence but they failed to acknowledge that the man who has dreams never loses. Our colonial masters have continued to benefit from their investments many years after while we still suffer from the abundance of our wealth.
If there was a dream, we would have developed an advanced train service since 1960. Our train lines still bear the marks of colonialism while nations with dreams have evolved and are now running speed trains. We still struggle to produce sufficient electricity because our fathers failed to put into reckoning our birth rate. They failed to project into the future until the future met us gaping.
• To be continued.
• Ekekere is a writer, change causer and teacher.
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