In my parents days in the 60s my gran sent maintenance money to my mum and dad in England. They had a good life. Although Nan was a farmer, she was comfortable and well respected by her peers. Many people looked up to her because of her zeal and ability to earn her living the hard way and still smiled. We had hospitals and good schools and fed really well. Nigeria produced the best graduates. Standard six, as my gran would call it then was like a degree. A standard six certificate holder could read and write better than some of our today’s graduates with bought first class degrees. Civil servants were poor but very well respected for their honour, integrity and dedication to service. They were servant leaders.
Prosperity without hard work as preached by our so called rogue men and women of their own little gods was unheard of then.
These days the reverse is the case. We work our guts out to send money to our parents and siblings at home and it is never enough. There are no good hospitals or schools anymore. The private ones are not affordable to the ordinary Nigerians. Many graduates with first class certificates are semi illiterates and cannot defend their certificates. Good schools and hospitals are abroad in India, London, Germany and America and that is only for the rich first among who are our politicians, public servants.
Public servants have become thieves and civil servants poor church rats who are disrespected by all and owed money by politicians. Their only recourse is petty trading and begging in the Ministries to support their families. (Fela’s African man no de carry shit comes to mind). Some have long joined the extortion crusade and will not lift a pen unless you bribe them. Sad but would you blame them? They are following a settled tradition.
Our police men and women even have to buy their uniforms and live in shacks in the name of barracks yet we expect them to perform magic. Where is the motivation? Are they less human than some of the thugs in the shape of leaders and politicians? Thank God that none of my children or family members is interested in that dangerous work. My uncle did and I still feel sad that he did.
Politicians are “sharing money and blood”, awarding themselves contracts in conflict of interest at unbelievable sums. They spend in billions with some of them still looking like dejected farmers who had never seen township yet they cannot pay N18000.00 minimum wage bearing the weight of their recklessness. Murdering and assassinating people for political offices are now fashionable. Siblings can kill one another for an appointment and positions are negotiated and bought before the elections.
Thieves, kidnappers etc. are now men and women of God and feared like death but no one says anything so long as they have money. Private jets now outnumber commercial jets and no one is asking questions. Corruption is OK because it is not stealing and if my predecessor failed to probe the people before him, I lose the right to probe him unless I probe everyone since independence. How disingenuous and patriotic?
Oh! how I desperately want the old times back. May Fela’s soul rest in peace.