By Femi Fabiyi Akintokunbo A Adejumo
Growing up in the 70s and early 80s, I noticed that Nigerians opened their doors to strangers as brothers and sisters, and neighbours accorded warm greetings with open arms. Love and affection were deeply entrenched in our culture, while stress and financial desperation were the list of our concerns. It was easy for individuals to approach private car owners and solicit for free rides on the federal highways without fear or distrust. Student’s curriculum included social interaction without prejudice. Vacation periods were like Christmas in schools. Student cried and hugged each other for the period they will be away from each other. For those that experienced broaden life, students of all grades accepted free travel rides right from their school gates to their respective destinations, and they were guaranteed safe trips. Most neighborhoods were safe for children and hardworking parents, as everybody watched out for the community’s interest. People with nefarious activities were treated with disdain, and often cascaded into the dungeon of disgrace.
The strained political structure of this country began its downward spiral in the first republic, when the politicians began a pile of toxic waste in form of thuggery and hooliganism in the ship wrecks, tattered over the countries delicate fragile fraternal geopolitical structure. The new breed of rogue politicians exploited the goodness and kindness of Nigerians, and ran the country like ‘moolue bus’. They consolidated their grip on the power and resources of the country, and introduced a scare tactics to force a compromise on our integrity. They ensured divisions in our calm communities, crushed our humanity and forced the progressives to take refuge outside the country. They succeeded in weakening our rich cultures, and introduced assassins and bribery as alternatives. The good citizens were clogged with stiffen conditions, left with the option to either join them or continue to wallop in poverty.
The disconnect between the political class and the populace began to show after the 1983 elections, where elections were openly rigged and people of no substance closed in as political appointees. The god-fathers turned their residencies to mecca, where indecency became the norm. Actions classified as abomination in our old culture were now glamourized and embraced by the handicapped progressives. Survival of the fittest became the order of the day; putting a different face to our respected culture. The hard working mentality began to give in, and everybody yearned for attention seeking politicians, in the sake of having a piece of the national cake. The institution of love and passion that have worked so well among friends and families for years are now gone.
The 33 years of military rule, excluding the shortlived 2nd republic had emboldened the politicians and their god-fathers, and weakened the progressives and the populace. The second spell of democracy in Nigeria had the progressives and masses unprepared for the brutal force of the day-light-robbery and social rape the politicians are now bludgeoning on Nigerians. The people keep their faith in religion; fasting and praying, and hoping a messiah will be born.
Nigeria politicians are some set of opportunistic people, who lack grace, elegance and class. They are little people with no conscience and leadership qualities. Whether Nigerians like it or not; a day of reckoning is not far away. The oil money currently feeling the little gaps is under treat from innovations and ideas. Many European countries are working really hard on finding biofuel products in order to reduce their oil consumption. Brazil and a host of other countries have successfully build cars that can survive on sugar cane and corn products. Tesla – an electric car company in America is revolutionizing the car industry – expect Honda, Toyota and a host of other car manufacturers to follow suit.
As long as oil money is out there, the politicians will continue to strength their base. The time has come for the emancipation of grass root politics. There is no way around it. It takes one community to set the pace, and changes will begin in earnest. The model is simple, but the commitment must be steadfast. We have to bring back the culture of love, trust and selfless agendas. We should be active in local politics through our respective demographics; landlord associations, religious associations, workers associations, community associations, student associations, online informative groups, professional associations and so on. These efforts become our major cushion to begin to influence the local politics – familiarizing ourselves with the office of the local government, establishing channels of communication with traditional rulers (where applicable), engage state representatives and local politicians, and ensure they have the awareness of association’s existence.
Great things happen, and are sustained not by accident but through a thoughtful and well planned strategy. Some leaders are made and some are born. We owe ourselves, our children and children unborn the fight for a life of equal opportunity for all. Enough of all the insinuations and doubts, and let the change begin. It takes a man and a woman to have a baby, but it takes a whole community to raise the baby.
Femi Fabiyi is resident in the United States of America and Akintokunbo A. Adejumo is available on [email protected]