My country people, una well done, oh. Yes. I can see that day don break for all of us. Yes, las las, every Nigerian don dey chop breakfast. The great Nigerian Mama Put restaurant’s sign is out – “Food is ready.”
A long time ago, many prophets were screaming at the top of their voices that greed would swallow us all. You know that desire to acquire more than our great-grandchildren will ever exhaust. Yes, that kind of greed. Nobody paid them any mind. They came, they cried, and they died.
A long time ago, another set of apostles climbed various mountaintops. They proclaimed that we had no effective government. Some spoke the language of our ancestors, saying; let us find the black goat before dawn. Nobody paid them any mind. They cried, they fasted, and they died.
Still, not a long time ago, children who “saw tomorrow” wailed along the streets of Nigeria. They raised fists, placards, and flags. They warned that there is no peace in a society where those who have nothing to lose outnumber those who have everything. Nobody paid them any mind. They matched, they got shot, and they died.
Pick any vexing issue in today’s Nigeria, and put it in the prism of history, and you will find out that it is breakfast time. If the gods still care about talking to Nigerians and if Nigerians still have ears that can hear the voices of the gods, what the gods will be saying to Nigerians today is “una well done. Day don break.”
Take a look at the CBN’s policy of cash swap of old Naira notes for new ones, for example. What do you Nigerians think happened there?
I will summarize it in a sentence: Nigeria happened to Nigerians.
Why Nigerians are surprised is what baffles me.
That a Nigerian government poorly implemented an ill-conceived policy should be familiar to true Nigerians. That some privileged people in our society took advantage of the government’s laziness and blindsidedness should not surprise real Nigerians. These are our stock in trade.
Where in Nigerian life do these propensities not exist in Nigerian society? Oh, I forgot, we thought we wouldn’t one day become victims of the failure of our government and our society.
Please, give me a break. Peter Obi used to say, “the society that we abuse today will take its revenge on our children.” Oops. It is not just waiting to punish our children. It is exerting punishment on us, too.
As Nigerians, we love the path of “least resistance.” Shortcuts, backdoors, and VIP paths are our dream routes. Nobody wants the narrow path where dry leaves trouble the soles of their shoes and shrubs rub their skin.
Whatever reason the government felt it needed to change Naira notes, it could have rolled it out better. Unfortunately, those who run our government are not serious people. They make assumptions that have no basis in reality. In their air-conditioned foreign cars, they forget that they are Nigerians and are operating in the Nigerian space.
We allow well-connected Nigerians to break the law and go free. We think it is okay if they are our friends, families, and of our religious and ethnic stock. We give their infringement a blind eye because we benefit from it. And then, one day, we find ourselves at the other end of the stick where we join those deprived. Then, we gnash our teeth and cry.
For so long, we have allowed them to carry on like this—no penalties for misconduct, no punishment for criminals, and no reprimand for rascals. Now we wonder why we are paying the price. That is the part that makes me scratch my head.
Fellow Nigerians, remember this today so that you can have peace. You cannot be immune from the consequences of the mediocrity you enabled. When you hear government failure, it means an absolute failure- like the failure of a building under which you live. That the ceiling has not landed on your head does not mean it won’t someday.
Look here my friends, this is just the beginning. On February 25, 2023, we Nigerians will step out and choose who will lead us for the next four years. If you like, shine your eyes, yank off the cobwebs of religion, ethnicity, and other stereotypes, and vote for competency and merit. If you like, don’t. Vote for your lowest impulses.
Na me and you go chop breakfast within days, weeks, months, and years after. And if any of you cry reach where I dey cry, all I go tell you na, “day don break.
I na-anu? Se o gbo? Kuna ji?
Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef” and “Children of a Retired God,” among others.