By Segun Ige
It appears we have soon forgotten our autochthonous well of inspiration and divination. Time and again, we are being, or we have been, brainwashed and bewitched by the ‘Bible-for-land’ conquistadors. O “In those days when civilisation kicked us in the face/ When the holy water slapped our cringing brows/ In those days there was painful laughter on the metallic hell of roads/ [all because of] foreigners who knew all the books but did not know love”! Definitely, David Diop would not have lamented the painful past of Nigeria if he knew she was going to be in such a questionable quagmire. Nigeria, my Nigeria.
My communicado in the body politic, recently, may have been an invasion, or intrusion, in the suffering-and-smiling foundation of the nationhood: to be sure, a space for draggers-drawn opportunism and the adventurism of power. It’s a shame that as yet we still leverage on debenture detrimental to our biodiversity and mentality. And the burgeoning disappropriation of public wealth is alarming, indeed abashing. Economically speaking, we are stunted and stationary. In terms of education, we are still grappling with ancient pedagogical approaches to learning: in this way, I’m afraid our prestigious institutions would not have been earmarked for the erstwhile purpose; this prerequisite teaching reflection itself is a thing to consider. Consequently our snail-sense system of education ought to be more standardised, re-appropriated, meeting the needs and demands of a more technologically-driven society. Even more important, politics should not be so sensitising and attracting: the Nigerian politicshood is obviously a platform to pilfer or harness public treasures for personal pleasures. That is to say that some public officials were not gainfully employed before squelching their feet into the land filled with milk and honey. The de-monetisation of the country would surely be the beginning of wealth creation for all.
Here we are gnashing our teeth against unemployment. Yet our institutes of higher learning yearly supply troops of graduates on the streets of Nigeria. After service, some of them have got to wait for years before – if at all they would – getting grudgingly employed. Incidentally, some of them find themselves engaging in what they never studied at school. Others could not but begin to hustle, as it were, so that they might make ends meet in menial but mammoth jobs. And the payment is so annoyingly meagre. But they’ve got no choice: he who laughs last laughs best. So uninteresting is the fact that ultimately they begin to package their CVs and certificate from their colleges and universities that they begin to rummage and forage on the streets. Truth be told, our leaders should first employ this country by bringing to bear modern-day facilities and equipment quintessential for economic growth. By ‘employing’ it I mean we should invest in quality education. After all, the CEO/Chairman of Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria has rightly remarked and recommended that teachers mandatorily obtain the Certificate of Quality Education before any pedagogical engagement with pupils and students. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Registrar/Chief Executive of TRCN, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, in his induction speech, said professionalism was a major factor in any life endeavour and should not be undermined by teachers in the country. He said: “There is no going back on TRCN professionalism drive across the country. “Hence the council would soon reintroduce the Professional Qualifying Examination, which would serve as a major pre-requisite for admittance into the teaching profession in Nigeria.” The Registrar has commended the Imo Stare Office of TRCN, the Faculty of Education of the university, and the Vice-Chancellor for the package of the induction protocol being the first of its kind in the institution. That’s not the idea! I don’t even think he knows ours is a system of archaic educational system that we find it very, very herculean a task accepting and adopting new profitable methods of educational, and of course economic, growth. When we invest in quality education, we do not only advance one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in other words, (SDG-4) – but also, most importantly, that we invest in the wealth and future of our youths the future generation and future leaders. Clearly, we don’t want to produce deficient, inefficient and incompetent leaders who cannot handle delicate matters. So it’s high time we redirected the humongous wealth we splash on perishable colossal of public offices, officials’ salaries and their allowances. Above all, I would urge that we travel to the past, because knowing or re-knowing the past is addressing existential issues of the present, and restructuring and recalibrating the composite complexities of the future.
Historical sense is having a sense or knowledge of the history, of Nigeria, in particular. Needless to say, Nigeria has a history: We have a history of the pre-colonial; of the post-colonial; and of the pro-colonial. The pre-colonial history was a period where we largely depended on our common-sense approach to life. The post-colonial history was birthed by the memorable contact with the imperialists at the time. And the pro-colonial history is the post-independence history of 1960 up to now. Of all these histories, the historical sense or knowledge of the first appears worthwhile. Its tranquillity notwithstanding, it was a creed of collective responsibility where every one’s noble course was directed. The banner was that of esprit de corps and not inferiority complex. Everyone was almost in the discourse and demonstration of power. Without any iota of doubt, I think we should painstakingly filter through these histories, together with their respective senses, and see which is suitable for nation-building, nation-development, and nation-integration. Left to me, I’d rather I chose the pre-colonial sense – which I believe would forestall the Nigeria of our dream.
The Nigeria of my dream, as everything seems, is that of equity and security. Equity in terms of wealth distribution and equilibrium would be our religious practice. Security of life and property, at all costs, becomes our uncompromising doctrine. The lamentations and trepidations lingering on the minds of the people would have been halted, I’m fully persuaded, before 2023. What is more, we would not be cringing under powers that be. Even so, a few are indeed pessimistic of the Buhari administration, seeing the seemingly unquenchable fires on the mountain. But I still maintain the very fact that the historical sense I mentioned could water these fires, instead of fuelling them with hate speech and criticism. I’m tempted to declare that, come 2023, Nigeria would have been a blossom and a full-blown vineyard devoid of foxes and wolves. Yes, I believe! Do you?
Segun Ige is a Public Affairs Analyst.
By then, therefore, leaders would be accountable and responsible to their citizens. The ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ modus operandi shall have been done away with. The ‘am-I-my-brother’s-keeper’ generational heritage shall have been discarded, even before then. Once again, the exhumation and appropriation of this pre-colonial historical sense would make this possible and accomplishable. Ours would be leadership that is characteristic of empathy, equity, inclusion and humility. The led would no longer be short-changed by the turpitude of demagogues who used to clampdown on the hoi polloi. Ours, I protest, would not, and should not, be the political apathy and apothecary, as in the 1994 South Africa. The peaceful co-existence of our nation depends on you and me and on the pre-colonial brotherliness and fraternisation in all balkanisations and geographical entities.
Segun Ige is a Public Affairs Analyst.