Posted by News Express | 1 April 2019 | 1,611 times
Why do you bother? This is a question friends, relatives, and many colleagues have asked me due, largely, to my continuous involvement in discussions of the Nigerian economic, social, and political environment. It is a question, I must admit, I have asked myself several times.
Though I have spent more of my years in America than in Nigeria, I bother because Jewish-Americans still bother about Israel; because Chinese-Americans still bother about China, and Mexican-Americans still do same about Mexico. Generations of Irish-Americans continue to lose sleep over Ireland. Ethiopian-Americans carry the problems of Ethiopia on their shoulders, and Sudanese-Americans deliberate the state of their country on a daily basis. Cuban-Americans even set up a mini Cuban community in Florida to remind them of their motherland. I bother because generations of Indian-Americans never forget where their parents come from.
I bother because I was there when Nigeria was a functioning state; when it was the darling and idol of many nations; when it was an inspiration to many Third World and Caribbean nations fighting for freedom and independence; when Lebanese refugees flooded the streets of Lagos to survive the civil wars in their land, and when the Ghanaians sought refuge and solace in the cities of Nigeria. I was also there when The Gambia and Senegal came calling for Nigerian teachers and judges, to help them set up their educational and judicial institutions; when Black South Africans and the African National Congress (ANC) came cap-in-hand, seeking financial and moral support to fight apartheid.
I was there when Nigerian roads were motorable, electricity was supplied all-day, and water actually came out of the pipes. I was there when rail was the preferred mode of transportation for many Nigerians, and telephone lines worked. I was there when people went to the farms and markets while leaving their doors open; when children played under the moonlight till dawn; when stealing was a community taboo, and the guilty were ostracised; and, when pastors preached the message of salvation, based on a choice between the wide and narrow paths.
Why do I bother, you ask? Because there is a 23-year-old Yoruba girl in Houston who bothers about infant mortality in Ekiti State; because a young Nigerian-American Igbo girl bother enough to work as a radiologist in Abuja than make hundreds of thousands (of dollars) in Dallas; because a team of Nigerian medical professionals bother enough to sacrifice time and money to make quarterly and yearly medical mission trips to many villages in Nigeria. I bother because organisations like Udeme.org, BudgIt, and Tracka, led by youths, bother enough to commit to ensuring good and responsible governance in Nigeria. I bother because international NGOs bother enough to assist millions of hopeless, helpless, and voiceless Nigerians who see no future for themselves and their generations yet unborn.
I bother because many of you have refused to bother, and have either accepted or worked to maintain the status quo; because while patriotism is on the decline, treasonable felony is on the rise; because while the practice of my brother’s keeper is on the decline, that of my brother’s killer is on the rise; because the citizen and the state have risen against each other, and crime and criminality is more celebrated today than abhorred. I bother because thousands of Nigerians abandon the country every year for lives of servitude in Asia and Europe, while the Asians and Europeans flock to Nigeria for lives of wealth and opulence.
I bother because thieves have invaded the temple of government, and the few Jesus among the crowd have refused to lift a finger; because I do not believe in sitting in one place and wringing my hands; because no one should live in a mansion enclosed behind 12-foot walls; because no child should study under a tree in this 21st century, and none should hawk wares on a school day.
Now, tell me, why you choose not to bother.
•Felix Oti writes from Arlington, Texas, USA.
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