Monday, 13 February 2012 09:04

Memo To The Young: Take Back Your Country

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My father claims that life under Nigeria's military was much better than what he is enduring today under the civilians. My father is a man who was once prepared to die for Nigeria. Today, he lives in a village that time forgot. The only certainty is death. Everything else is rationed. My father's pension comes in unreliable spurts; he relies on the finicky generosity of his children and others visiting to tend to the dying and the dead.

Democracy has not helped my father. For him, it has been the same, the transition from the military to the civilian. Same difference. He would like the military to come back. According to him, if you are going to be miserable, you might as well have a good excuse. My father also believes he was happier under the colonialists. That may appear silly but I see it as a profound indictment of the excesses of our political and intellectual classes.

I have thought about it a lot and I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the return of the military would be a step backwards. So, what should we do? I don't know; the prognosis does not look good. But, I say to the young in Nigeria: Take back your country; my generation has screwed it up royally. Why do I say this? My trip to Nigeria last September is just now beginning to register in the sense of how appalled I was at the degradation and neglect that now passes for a country.

Nigeria as it stands now is actually an unruly gathering of the mostly clueless mostly pretending to be a nation. If Nigeria was a building in a Western nation, its occupants would be immediately evacuated and the building razed down by a team of demolition experts wearing hazardous materials suits. The situation is pretty bad, let's stop pretending. And what is happening to the young in Nigeria will have long-lasting repercussions for several generations to come. I saw young people toiling under conditions that would break mere mortals in the West.

There are absolutely no rules in Nigeria that money cannot break. Money is the king, decency, morality and justice be damned. Yes, some good things are happening; all the more reason why the current situation should be arrested, literally.

It is distressing to see what civilian leaders have done to our nation under the guise of democracy. Someone should pay for what has happened to Nigeria. Our intellectuals are just as culpable in the penkelemesi. Have you seen what passes for a "university" in Nigeria these days? I recently saw pictures of rioting "students" of the University of Nigeria (UNN) against the backdrop of their dilapidated "hostels."

The hostels looked like hovels that did not survive the Nigerian Civil war. Hogs would not be housed in these hovels in Alabama. These are not students that our "university lecturers" are raising, these are abused children. Someone stop this madness called democracy. It has become a plague on our people that must be stopped at all costs.

In Nigeria, I saw a land of pretend laws, money briskly changing hands to subvert rules of civilisation, and those sworn to protect our citizens taking turns to chase and hunt them down. It is my generation that has replicated the sins of those gone before. The leaders of my generation do not get it. They are still living in the dark ages when accountability was not a word. In the age of the Internet there are no secrets, there are lies. And the greatest wealth we can accumulate is our good name. Try to google the name of your favourite Nigerian "leader" and you will understand why not all the money in the world can rescue that name from the opprobrium. They are indeed the scum of the earth.

The leaders of the pro-democracy movement that brought us this shame should go hang their heads in shame. The pro-democracy movement that gave us the promise of liberation from a military Gulag lied to us. Once in power, the pro-democracy movement turned to be just as bad as our executioners.

They are back with placards, asking us to walk with them yet again to freedom. I say to the young, ignore them, it is not your freedom they seek. Get up and stop this madness on your own terms. Listen to Fela Anikulapo Kuti's prophetic words, this democracy is an uprising of criminals and it will bring out the beast in all of us. Stop the madness. Take back your country. What is happening to your country is what happens when you are seduced by the power of empty words. Stop the madness. Take back your country.

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Ikhide Ikheloa

Ikhide Roland Ikheloa is the Chief of Staff to the Board of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, (MCPS) USA, where he has been working since 1987, beginning as Business Manager at Gaithersburg High School and as a Budget and Management Specialist for MCPS. He is a bachelor's degree holder in Biochemistry from the University of Benin and MBA degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford Mississippi.