INSIDE NIGERIA: When Exile is an Elixir

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
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photo by okoye charles

photo by okoye charles

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

My grand-aunt is 78 years old. She has lived all her life (except for the last six months) in a village in Nigeria. She is very conversant with the Nigerian society: the corruption and the crime, the epileptic power supply, the absolute disregard for the rule of the law, the hypocrisy and hysteria. She cooks with firewood and brushes her teeth with chewing stick. Yes! My grand-aunt was a confirmed Nigerian. Six months ago, my aunt (her daughter) gave birth to a child in far away America, and she was invited to visit and to help take care of her. She went there and stayed for six months…Six months of living in the United States of America had its effect on her. She came back last week and since then the world around her has never been the same. She is either complaining about this or about that. The Nigerian clime which had served her faithful for 78 years, now seems to suffocate her. The village life which she was very much accustomed to, has now become to her a perfect replica of what hell would be like. Now she is always whining, impatiently waiting, counting the days as they rolled by till she can once again visit the USA, which is barely a month from now. She had even gone as far as stating openly that she will not be returning from America this time and should be buried there when she dies. This is not one of my creative fiction, this is a real story, and this story is real and true, and happening right this very moment in many other parts of Nigeria.

Exile; they say is a very bad thing, but exile from hell; now that’s a semi-heaven.

The Nigerian clime is at best a purgatory, a land of suffering and sorrowing while smiling at the same time. A country whose government celebrate renowned foreigners (folks who lived all their lives outside Nigeria and have ties to Nigeria in their surname only) while the talents of the youths are sacrificed on the enormous altar of negligence. A country whose police force are populated by illiterates, by murderers, by drunkards, by criminals and cowards. A country whose law are made to protect only the selfish interests of those in government, and blind only to the atrocities of those same folks. A country where a female suspected of stealing a phone worth €300 (N60,000) is stripped naked and molested, while their male counterparts are beaten and burnt to death. A country that cannot afford to pay a monthly allowance of €100 (N20,000) to the growing number of its unemployed graduates but can afford to pay €1000 (N200,000) and €100,000 (N20,000,000) per month to illiterate militants and federal legislators respectively…yes Nigeria is at best a purgatory…if not hell-fire.

No wonder, many Nigerians now see exile as a release and relief from this State of Purgatory. A lot of young Nigerians are now littered like locusts all over the world, some in search of education, which is now a contraband in Nigeria, or for greener pastures, which entails doing menial jobs like washing of corpses or toilets, cleaning of gutters and garbage, serving as drivers, waiters, butlers, labourers etc, others travel to become call girls, strippers, prostitutes and pornstars, a lot others go there to become menaces, criminals, 419ers, internet fraudsters and co whose job it is to drag the already soiled name of Nigeria deeper into the gutters that our politicians had left it in, a few go there for health reasons because our hospitals have now become a euphemism for death centres.

This is very pathetic and painful, but most Nigerians, especially those who have not been “privileged” to travel out, do not fully appreciate the situation we are in.

Our leaders are to be blamed, yes but it is still us that produce and support those self-centred leaders. It is still us that serve in government parastatals, those who come to work by 10 am and close by 2 pm..when the stipulated time is 8 am to 4–5 pm. It is still us that serve as nurses who hardly do much to help our patients as it is done abroad, and only make a show of doing so when inspectors are on site. It is still us that serve as teachers (both professional and NYSC) who hardly impart knowledge. It is still us that act as bankers, as contractors, as traders, as lawyers, as church leaders, town-heads etc, it is us that strive day in day out to cheat, to deceive and to manipulate our fellow citizens in order to advance our own well being. We are the same as our leaders in everything but political power.

Furthermore, it is now an established fact that most careers can only be advanced outside of Nigeria. A writer in Nigeria is a nonentity, he is only seen as a continuous complainer (like I am currently doing), nigerians may hail him when they meet, act as if they encourage him but one thing they will never do is to buy his book, and if they do, it would be the cheap pirated ones…go ask Chimamanda, Onyeka Nwelue, Achebe, and Ben Okiro who discovered them and who their real devoted fans are.
Sports in Nigeria is an individual thing, the Nigerian teams (football and others) are an agglomeration of over-aged individuals who refused to bow their heads in defeat before the thorne of our collective Indifference. Most of our past and present football players are folks who struggled on their own, worked hard without any sort of encouragement whatsoever to legally or illegally sneak into any foreign country that will appreciate them for what they are; good footballers. Thanks to Stephen Keshi; who now gives opportunity to local based players, if not for that, most local based players like Sunday Mba will live out their glorious days in total obscurity.
Masters degree are now a matter of which foreign school one can afford, be it in Burma or Ghana, be it in Indonesia or India, be it in Congo or Togo. it doesn’t matter provided it is anywhere besides Nigeria…funny enough the tuition for one year study in america or europe is more than 10 times the total tuition for a Five year course in any federal university in Nigeria.

In addition, most people prefer to go to europe and america to do menial works, works that they will violently turn down in Nigeria, than to stay in Nigeria and work in an office…this is because those menial works abroad pays more than one will earn in an office work in Nigeria. A banker in Nigeria may earn €1,000 (N200,000) a month working 12hours a day while a stripper can earn upto €200 (N40,000) or more in one night. A guy working 8hours a day in a fast-food joint in Nigeria may earn only €100 euros (N20,000) a month while a babysitter abroad can earn €50 (N10,000) in just 5 hours…so why work like an elephant and eat like an ant where you can work like an elephant somewhere else and still get to eat like an elephant.

All these; including epileptic power supply, lack of respect for lives and properties etc are reasons why exile no matter the cost is the preferred choice of many Nigerians today.

I only see one way out of this: which is a dramatic change of attitude towards our society by all well meaning Nigerians. In everywhere we find ourselves, we should strive to leave it better than we met it. We should stop waiting for Nigeria to be like London, we should start today to do those things we feel we would do if Nigeria were London. Are you a corper? Try and improve your PPA, your lodging, your CDS. Are you a teacher? Try and impart knowledge to your students as best as you can. Are you a government staff? Start today to treat your work as if it were your very own workshop. Are you a trader, a nurse, a banker, a village head, an SUG member, start now to be honest, diligent and hardworking.

Perfection is never achieved by praying and fasting or by wishful thing but by striving to live as perfect beings. Wherever you are, try and be a patriotic Nigerian. Keep your surroundings clean, speak up fiercely against injustice, tomorrow might be your turn. Do your own share perfectly…it might seen like a needle in a hay-sack but who can predict Tomorrow…Arab’s Spring started as a result of Bouazzi; a nonentity setting himself on fire…an event of no importance at the time. Please do not set yourself on fire, rather set your old habits ablaze…because if we should continue this way, who knows; one day Nigeria may become empty except for the rotting corpses of our failed aspirations as a Nation.

May God help us all…+

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. Queenette Ekomaru says:

    Well Spoken. #TruthTold

  2. Adaka Timothy says:

    Hmmmm. What more can I say??? It is Very difficult but with God, all things are possible “IF U BELIEVE”.

  3. Olisa says:

    You wrote it the way it is. This country makes me want to puke!

  4. Anene Francis says:

    I would have said, ” I weep for my country” but I read something today that caused a little paradigm shift in my mentality. In a recent talk, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala said, ” we should stop feeling sorry for Nigeria— and
    start investing in it”… This supports the concluding admonitions of this article. (expanding investment to include time, money, talent and commitment). If our groaning only tend towards despondency, then it is of no value without actions. My bit, your bit, in our little capacities will make the difference we need.
    *There is nothing wrong in going outside to get services not yet obtainable in the country but do remember your root, and bringing those needed things here.
    Suggestions (you can delete this part of my comment):
    * “… whose law are made…” > “laws are made…”
    * “… europe and america” > “Europe and America”

    Nice write up. An eye opener in another dimension. Great encouragement. Good work mr Solar.

  5. Ik Ekpunobi says:

    Well written,organised and am intrigued by the realistic nature of your write up. To be frank I learnt a lot from this kudos brov!

  6. More compliants from us, less attitude change, hence, little/no result.
    I may want to ask you this: Are you so sure all banks in Nigeria pay their staff up to 200k/month?…Seriously,I doubt oh!…Anyway, that may be one of your popular make-believes (fictious tales).

    As a further suggestion, I think “banks…pays” should have been “banks…pay”.
    Nice lamentations, bro. I love the solutions you proffered.

  7. timnwaobilo says:

    O God of creation
    Direct our noble call
    To SERVE with HEART and MIGHT
    And LOVE and STRENGTH and FAITH…

    Mr Charles, if there was ever any truth, it surely found a habitation in the perspirations of your cranial pen. You have thrown more illumination on an eternal issue that is slowly becoming the ONLY reality for our compatriots to revel in- how sad!
    However, the ISLAND of CHANGE is not that yonder, as our ships have set sail for it.
    Aye Cap’n.

  8. LegendaryCJN says:

    Mr Solar, you’ve always written inspiring hard truths, and we appreciate you for that.
    But like most Nigerian, I believe that time would come and a relatively insignificant thing would spark off the revolution we need in this country.
    But for now, self discipline is the watchword.

    However, I noticed other errors and I also noticed ‘wishful thing’ which should be ‘wishful thinking’.

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