I did experienced and enjoyed celebrating Empire Day and Independence Day as a primary school pupil. Back in the days, pupils were treated to delicacies of white rice with stew and sizeable meat. We were kids but there were high hopes of a better tomorrow. Our school premises was spanky. Pupils from primary three, took turns daily to sweep the premises between the hours of 5.30 and 6.30am. It was apportioned and there was penalty for a shody exercise. There were different fruit trees, orchards and a garden. The flowers I remember their names at a glance today, were from primary school days. Well laid out landscape of hibiscus, Ixora, rose, acacia tree, etc. There were guavas, mangoes, bananas, cashews and pineapple at different parts of the school premises. Things were orderly. No recalcitrant pupil was unpunished. Parents marched to school to report their children, and insisted the punishment of twelve strokes of the cane be meted out in their presence.
In the village, if one is caught in adultery, or fornication, it is better he or she escaped to the city before dawn because the penalty is costly financially and physically derogative. To greet an elder in an improper manner, was like a crime was committed. Then our chant of ‘One Nigeria’ made meaning. The slogan to ‘keep Nigeria One’ during the Civil was wholly accepted by those on the federal side at the time. Nigerians held lofty dreams notwithstanding that the adult male citizens did stayed all day in the farm to avoid the rampaging tax collectors. I did saw some local officials who barricaded strategic road junctions to check for bicycle licenses. I did saw a sparkling silver Raleigh brand bicycle, the symbol of ‘the haves’ held for not having license. That caught attention of passersby as only notable figures in the community owned the silver plated Raleigh bicycles. He said the license was stolen. Those days. the license plate was attached conspicuous with a bolt and nut to the bicycles. He was told to quote the number or tender the receipt. He could not. He was ferried home to fetch it. You couldn’t bribe your way through.
There were scholarship offers for secondary school for Indigent students. Undergraduates, got engaged for vacation jobs during long vacations besides being given students bursary awards. The exact amount approved for each student was paid, not stolen by the school authority.Life was good. Some students were able to support the education of younger siblings in secondary schools. Many others, spent theirs on electronic appliances, wall-papered rooms, clothes and membership of aristocratic social clubs. Nigeria was a place to be. There were expertrates lecturers from different countries on exchange programs. Many did ‘murdered’ our Nigerian names but we didn’t quite mind. They were good lecturers and scored students their deserved marks; correctly. Students never paid for handouts. Free they were given out. Nobody threatened to fail students for not buying a lecturer’s book or opposing impromptu call for tests. Students demanded lecturers followed the rules regarding tests, exams and the grace period before doors could be locked to shut out late comers to class. I had an instance when we faced the highest authority of the school when our campus publication cartoned a management staff. We were queried for such an act that ridiculed the staff and disparaged his name. We were able to prove that the story was true and demanded a commendation from the school authority for what we were doing to check immorality no matter who was involved. . The case was dismissed in our favour and we were given mandate to take over the students publicity notice board. That was my Nigeria where justice and truth prevailed over impunity.
So in celebrating 60th Independence of Nigeria, I have received a few images of the flying flag of green white green and the logo design. I asked which country are they celebrating the independence? Is Independence about the lowered flag of colonial masters to mark the exit of their citizens that lord over us and the hoisting of another flag of a nation with some citizens who took over the lordship position vacated by the colonial masters? I do not understand this. That I was told that my ward did not made the cut-off mark of 73% admission to Unity School whereas another of the same country who scored 2% is offered admission? Is the Independence of Nigeria for all of us? A section of the country decided not to partake in marking the Independence and some sections are abusing them? Please keep your pictures of flags, military and Para-military parades to yourselves. I am not a good friend of politicians and apologists of the statusque hoisted on the nation by military decrees.
The first and last time I was in Aso Rock Villa, was when late General Sani Abacha was the head of state. I went to see my friend whose office adjourned the Chief of Staff which adjourned that of the Head of state. I requested to greet his immediate Oga who was the CoS. My friend laughed aloud to his own embarrassment because of the pindrop silent office. He said my friend you should be going now because nothing will stop you after greeting my Oga to demand if it was possible to greet his Oga. He knew me;I was going to ask my friend’s Oga and his Oga if permitted, if they heard my greetings very clearly. If they said they did, I was going to asked if they were equally hearing the voices of Nigerians clearly.
May I ask, what is there to celebrate about Nigeria? A nation where it seems leaders are not ashamed to preside over confusion? A nation where the three major ethnic groups with distinct core areas of talents and entreprise are unable to support each other to harness their endowed gifts for national development?
We now have governments that have failed to provide portable drinking water for its population and nobody is talking about it. Yet the same governments, want to enact laws to levee households for boreholes sunk to get drinking water. To and from school there were public taps where pupils drank water. Imagine the wicked plot by federal government of Nigeria to pass a water resources bill to further enslaved the people especially those whose livelihood depends on the river waters within their settlements. A government that has failed in all areas including the wisdom to appoint capable Nigerians to deliver its programs. No day passes without one ludicrous story or the other of ineptitude and corruption allegations. Nothing positively impacting on the people. No clear direction besides the mundane and atrocious. Are these leaders actually our people? It is irreconcilable that we have moribund refineries with staff that are being paid for upward of ten years now while we import refined petroleum products. Are we sane? Please keep your Independence celebration from me till further notice. And the worst part now is that China is being sold the country for a morsel of bread.