The traffic situation on Lagos Island this week has been atrocious. Out of necessity, I had reasons to be on the island everyday of the week. I had the most harrowing traffic experience on Tuesday. It was so bad that I had to wait in a pub till about 10pm when the roads became decongested.
While in the pub, I was accosted by two gentlemen who introduced themselves as admirers of my work. We started a conversation and they told me about their intentions to check out of the country for good. I was curious to know why and they gave quite compelling reasons. These are some of the things they said.
“We are checking out while we still can. Someday Nigerians will realise that the Nigerian Dream is dead, and that they have been nothing but pawns and slaves to the ruling class. When that day comes, do you think the people in government are going to let them leave? Who will create the wealth for them to loot? Nigeria will soon be locked down under the pretence of something terror-related, and no one will be allowed to leave.
“The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. This is the system today. The rich are the ones in government and they run it with bribes and backroom deals. Do you really think they’re going to let you change things? There’s an old saying which goes, “If voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal. The system is riddled with corruption. How do you change a country whose foundation is the opposite of the change you desire? If Nigeria really does make the switch to a better form of government, how effective will it really be compared to advanced nations?
We are not well structured politically. It may be difficult for Nigeria to have an effectively system governance. The military (serving and retired) will always be in control of this nation. It is obvious that there is nothing anybody can do about it. Certainly, they are hiding their true power to keep the masses believing they are in control of a democracy. Religion will always have a stranglehold over the people.
Let us face it, when a pastor says “jump”, his followers say, “How high?” If your wildest hopes and dreams for this country really do come true, there will still be over 40% of the population fighting it at every turn. “Nigerians won’t change their mindsets. They will use everything available to oppose you at every given opportunity. Why bother yourself when you could just go to a country that is already where you want it to be? That you don’t want people to check out is not a good enough reason for them to stay. Are you really going to keep playing against a stacked deck because you don’t want to give the so called patriots the satisfaction of leaving? This isn’t a game. This is my life I am talking about here.
I want to be living it in a country where they believe what I believe. Not hitting my head against a brick wall just because it looks like I may have made some superficial progress. I don’t need anyone telling me I have a chance of being successful. I want to see it myself. The people have been broken to the point that they are only concerned about their stomach infrastructure. We can’t even demand for the basic things of life. It is quite obvious that Nigerians will always be pawns of the politicians. The people only get angry when they are told to be angry. We need to be in a more enlightened country with more enlightened people who care about humans instead of corporations.
“There is no benefit in being a Nigerian. What’s good about people starving in the streets and children not being able to get health care coverage for diseases? This country is no more special than any other, and claiming so is nothing short of delusional. Even if we choose to stay back, the change we are clamoring for may never happen in our lifetime. Why not make the change now, move to a better country, and enjoy it, and let your kids enjoy it? Why choose to fight for change all your life in a country that resists it, only to have your children fight for the same change all their lives? Is this really what you want?”
At this point I couldn’t say anything. I just sat there and shook my head as their pain and frustration kept pouring out. I have always been a supporter of staying home and build the country of your dreams. I have argued with countless people with contrary beliefs. But I couldn’t find the right words to ask these guys not to leave the country. I ended up telling them that if they really believe all the things they have said then they should leave. It was difficult to disagree with them on the reasons for their intention. But on deeper reflection, I still believe this country, though is still far from where it should be given its vast resources and enormous potential, can be a better place for us all to live. If you have contrary beliefs, and are truly honest with yourself about them, you should seriously consider leaving the country if that is how you can live more happily.