Solving Nigeria’s problems at 56

October 3, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters



Prince Charles Dickson

Bring a male and female squirrel, a virgin turtle, seven white doves, an animal without a spine, and three kola nuts, one white, two brownish red ones and a necklace worn by a woman that has had twins three times…

Did you listen to President Buhari’s Independence Day Speech, in all its content and intent, it was a speech of hope. However beyond hope it really had nothing to offer, given that in the last few years it has always been messages and speeches of hope.

So this is part of the picture, Nigerians today love Arsenal Football Club of England more than Buhari, they watch the Premiership that is aired on our network stations at the expense of developing our local league.

Nigerians love Arsenal, a football club in England that is older than Nigeria, makes more money than most of our so-called States, richer than all the noise making mineral rich States. We love Arsenal, a club that makes more money in endorsements, sales of players and merchandising, yet we have States that no company would brand for a Naira. I shake my head, as phrases such as O2, Man U 4 life, Blues Forever and what not has taken over.

We love the wrong things and hate the right things. I feel hmm, as my car is branded Arsenal, from steering cover, seat belt band, head cover and I have an Arsenal clock in my parlor, wear an Arsenal wristwatch, my sons have their Arsenal sweatshirts. I know more about ex-gunner Thierry Henry than I know of Buhari.

I rather vouch for Arsenal sensation Iwobi than a typical Nigerian Governor, Minister or Senator. It is not about being 56, it is about Independence with little or nothing to show for it, we started this race with quite a number of nation states but today they play big brother to us. In the 70’s when our problem was how to spend the money where was Dubai? We are way out of the leagues of Malaysia, India, Dubai, South Africa, and co. The same South Africa that we gave money to fight apartheid has hosted the World Cup and littered the entire Nigeria with their shopping malls and businesses.

We have all it takes to be better than Arsenal, better than England and its entire football clubs but do we have the guts? We have combatants in our National Assembly, crooks man our States, and ruffians coordinate the affairs of State. We love Arsenal, a club that could buy the APC without sweat, and these days like the PDP it ousted cannot guarantee a life to those it rules.

The truth is that beyond the current recession, all is not well, can all be well then, sometime in the future; is it possible that as a nation, Nigeria can still find character and strength to hold her head up…? It remains the million Naira question.

For a nation that has completely lost its sense of rage, the norm has become abnormal, the abnormal, so normal and a way of life. Deviant attitudes supported by an elite leadership well disconnected from a docile populace.

We have become a society where leadership would deny rape that is obvious, a society that has lost its sense of morality as policemen would fight publicly for N20 that is when they are not killing an innocent soul for the same amount.

The problem is that education is on the decline, the system gradually collapsing and yet, no rage, we try to find character through phrases such as Transformation, 1 million Point agenda, re-engineering, redemption, CHANGE, and all such catch words, good people, great nation, but truth is that silently the underdevelopment of our nation continues in almost all spheres.

We are not outraged at how we have suddenly become a nation that produces god of men rather than men of God, pastors with several aircrafts while the congregation are hoodwinked with prosperity classes, Islamic scholars turned Taliban.

Many of us would recall that Onward exercise book, 20, 40, 60 and 80 leaves with the mathematical timetable behind, now replaced with some flashy notebooks with the head of some foreign soccer league star name and photo or club, we are losing and have lost our character of nationhood…(That is if we ever had one).

We have not lost our rage; in recent times if left on our own, we may soon require FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to get married. As everything now is based on some form of partnership or the other.

Our economy is in near doldrums, but we have the potential to do as China is doing, or translate into some African Alsatian if we cannot become tigers. But we consistently spew chance after chance away.

Government officials tour the world with monies better used for meaningful development chasing shadows that you cannot trust in the dark. We beg them with ten years VISA, they treat us like a rag, we get four weeks VISA in return after some blue eyed woman behind a counter is sure we’ve got millions to spend in Disneyland and we see nothing wrong.

There is no outrage that a governor appoints hundreds of special assistants and dozens of senior special assistants whose salaries and other perks would cost the State treasury several millions. With the best of intent we are still serving dinner with the perennial guests, corruption, nepotism, abandoned projects, lack of infrastructure, bloated government, local insecurity and lack of decisive will in governance.

Very little to cheer about as we battle to renegotiate our collective existence as a nation, confidence in government divided. It’s either the government has no commitment and has ability, or its ability is never matched with commitment.

We, citizenry have very little to show…People go to hospitals to die and public schools are going extinct.

With all these, there is no outrage; we go ahead like all is well, feeding on our false resilience. Hoping against hope, we keep holding the gun of nationhood carelessly, I end asking…would there be a Nigeria in the next 56 years, what would it look like?—Only time would tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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