My dear friend Gbonju sent me an email i sent to her in 2003. as I read the e-mail, I was almost certain I was not the one who wrote it. I think it was my very first attempt at public writing. Off course it never got published and the scenarios i painted in the piece have not changed much.
I hope everyone who reads it will enjoy it and make a change if need be in what ever situation they find themselves.
I'm a Nigerian girl who has seen so many traumas of being a Nigerian and even living in Nigeria.First of all the, ill that befalls me everyday; the way out of my house has been bad for sooo long that we no longer go through that route, the alternative is also a living hell.I dont know when last i had 30 minutes of uninterruped power supply .Then I thought and thought what the cause of all these troubles were, we spend too much time making noise about the government and what they are not doing and what they should do that we take the focus of ourselves.In a bus, you see people getting upset with the bus driver because he's not stopping them at exactly the point they want to stop, irrespective of whether there are a hundred cars behind their bus, or whether they are not at the precise bustop, they'll scream blue murder at the conductor....its terrible.You know, I'm upset about the fact that students have been at home for 5 months!!!!! I know every one talks about this and I dont want to re-flog the issue, but look at it, the thing has dragged on for too long. its almost as if the ASUU members themselves are not sure of the essense of the strike or is there something they are not telling us?5 schools now have pulled out.so is it that those schools have more comapssion on the students than the others or is it that they no longer believe in the cause they were fighting? or is it that they have beeen settled of?????Look at this scenario too, we are all about to board a ferry going to Marina from Wharf okay? and we are just a handful, but what do Nigerians do??? we rush and push each other and get scratched and scraped all to get on one ferry... guess what? the ferry doesn't get filled up before it leaves the dock..Getting to Marina what do we do???? we start rushing off as we see Marina in sight. Do we wait for the ferry to berth???No, we start scrambling off like mad people.An accident happens and then you hear all sorts of comment about Govenrment this and Govenrment that!We have to start by doing the littlest things for ourselves.Like being disciplined, drinking pure water and restraining ourselves from throwing the paper out the window, not throwing our Gala wraps on the road, not complaining that the government waste disposal policies are not well implemented.Look at this sad situation.The setting is a Lagos State health center.There is power outage (not unusual) but the Government has provided the generator, contrary to what people like to believe. There is a man in the engineering department who has been employed to put on the generator as and when needed, okay? He neglects his duty and doesnt come to work , when he does, he waltzs in at 11.30 p.m (he's to resume at 7.00p.m) as if he is perfect order.So when people come in and need health services and there's no power they complain to their friends and loved ones that 'the government' has made no provision for power supply. And that they,therefore, prefer to go to private hospitals.Did you know that the best doctors are employed in Government hospitals? Did youuknow that they are well paid? Better than the average private hospital doctor?.Now in all fairness, the generator man is an everyday person like me who will complain about the ASUU strike and dirt on the streets and bad roads and all that. But is he serving and doing his best in his little corner?? NO!!!. The ambulance driver comes to work as and when he feels the urge to show his face, what happens to ill people that need to be transferred from place to place??Need i speak about the man supposed to issue cards, about the chief matrons and other nurses... its too bitter to remeber 'To Serve our Father land, with Love and strength and Faith' Our kids sing this songs everyday in schools but they dont see good examples of Love and Strength and Faith.I was priviledged to be in Kano when the presidential aspirant Buhari came for campaign, there were truck loads of people, with spears, cutlasses and all sorts of harmfull weapons screaming 'sai mai sallah' i thought to my self, 'isnt this supposed to be a political campaign?' why are we bringing religion into it? why the violence.?? I saw graffittis of President George Bush labelled as an infidel... I was stunned! I thought to myself?? 'Because there's a war between the west and the east is that automatically translated into a war between Christianity and Islam?' I thought to myself ,are these people illetrates or what? they would stop at nothing to kill someone else because we place so much importance on such trivialites such as our religious differences.Where is the love that we are supposed to have for one another?Our we brightening the little corners where we are ?We are Nigerians, we should be the ones to build Nigeria.Then the Government.....hmmm. You know, I was priviledged to be in Abuja a few months ago and you know the place is almost ideal, (at least some areas) you almost forget you are in Nigeria, you set out , plan to get some where in 15 minutes and you are there! maximum extended time, 5 mins. So I figure, how will they know what ills I go through in lagos? they live ideal lives they are comfortable, their bills are paid and coverd by the almighty GOVERNMENT.I drove past the police head quaters i was impressed, I mean ... I am the worlds' greatest cynic and I said "wow", i would like to be a cop if I saw a place like this; and then without allowing that thought to rest I remembered the horrors of 'shandi shandi' in Lagos and the stray bullets and all those.....horrible times, the criminals that go unpunnished and all that and i think.. Nigeria, we hail thee.But do I blame the police men??? no~! how can i expect them to solve cases like Dick Tracey, do they have good data collection facilities? no?? do we have a good terrific forensic? good and intelligient investigators? i mean Investigators, officers of the law? not.....'Men in Black' on the streets oh!You know we love noise making in Nigeria, a little thing and we are blowing our own trumpets. If the police department buys 10 new geeps today you'll see it on newsline, tell me if one of those geeps is going to help book criminals...NEVER!!!!!!!!!I dont want to talk about the siren and the convoys that are used to intimidate normal everyday people.The issue of gun carrying by the police men too is also a fact that gives me shivers.Why must they carry guns on the street.Is it that Nigeria is in a perpetual state of emergency? why the psychological intimidation, why must the 'men in black' carry weapons' why do they need to cock it to frighten, the bus drivers, why will they give the guns the opportunity to " accidentally discharge" ( i hate to use the term "in civilised countries" because it make us sound like animals) In the west, do we see the officers of the law around intimidating the citizens with guns and armoured tanks? only in times of distress and then they apologize to the citizens for the ocurence.I went to Unilag last week and i saw a war tank, it was all i could do to shudder and gasp.... what was going on here? so i realised that in their warped minds this was what the could do to protect themselves from 'rioting , violent students ' abi?Let me tell you another upseting aspect of my trip to Abuja. I had an opportunity to visit the National hospital .I was enthralled, it was beautiful. As I walked down the corridoors of the hospital, i felt my spirit soar at the thought of this edifice being Nigerian, and for the first time in a really long time i felt proud to be a Nigerian even if temporarily.It was like a stream in the midst of a desert for a soujourner (and i did feel like a soujourner just going through the motions of life ). The place was beautiful and VERY standard , nothing haphazardly done.As with everything in Abuja, no expense was spared and for a good cause too, i was pleased. I went home nearly flying cos of the joy. There was hope for my homeland.We had succeeded in doing something good for the benefit of all of us and not just the elite few.As I reached my aunty's house i was bursting with joy, i recounted my experience at the hospital, my joy at seeing the place.The flowers, the scenery, I couldnt contain myself I was given a cold drink and told to sit down.In a soothing voice, as if not to break my excitement my cousin told me "It is not managed by Nigerians,Ronke, The management of the hospital is contracted out to foreigners.".Needless to say i was heartbroken.So, therefore, I came to the conclusion that the hope of breaking out of the darkness was dim.Maybe not in my life time, perhaps in the time of my kids unborn.As I thought about our not doing anything right, I thought about ballette bustop area on apapa oshodi express road, Lagos that was bad for several months which led to horrific traffic. I was traumatised.Anytime i had to go towards Oshodi i got really depressed. A friend of ours missesd his flight to the U.S after spending 4 hours at Ilasa. It was almost hillarious, the next day he went to the airport in the morning and didn't bother going back home.Now the roads been fixed but has anybody thought to ask why that spot always goes bad when the rains come? no! I discovered that the road itself was in the path of a canal and it would always erode.What do i think should be done? simple, make a flyover about that spot.I also thought that since I'm not that much of a genius some brilliant civil engineer must have thought about that so why hasn't it been done? funds??? negligience? no scale of preference on the part of the 'Government'?Or perhaps, there is no brilliant indegenous civil Engineer..... because all our students don't get properly taught. They are rushed through the course outline, given the date of their exam and told to read hard.Of course, the good ones go and read hard, if they are lucky to be on the good side of the lecturer they get good grades. If they are not, they get pasable grades.The bad ones off course don't bother at all with reading and they somehow manage to get out of school with an equalizer 2-2 (2 for school they will take 2).they have some nice uncle somewhere who helps them get a relatively okay job (which makes them better off than their contemporaries at home) The M.D of the company where they are working knows someone somewhere who can help get a contract.They get awarded the contract and then our fresh undegraduate is given the project.. haha his degree is put into use fianlly! Does he know half of what's expected of him???? no!!!does he do a shoddy job??Naturally!Where do we go from here?