Column Opinion

If Nigeria will happen, then…

By Dr. Prince Charles Dickson

In November of this year of COVID19 2020, days after a starving lion and a number of other severely underfed animals were discovered by a shocked visitor to Gamji Gate Zoo in Kaduna State, a wildlife charity, Wild@Life e.V, in conjunction with the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Parks (NAZAP) rescued the severely malnourished lion.

Francis Abioye, NAZAP National President, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Owerri that the distressed lion was trapped for five days in the zoo after a recent flood in the state. Abioye said the rescue could not be easily carried out due to lack of tranquillisers to administer on the lion to gain easy closeness to it, a situation, he said, caused the animal serious distress.

He noted that NAZAP, with the support of Wild@Life e.V initiated the rescue operation to save the animal and directed temporary closure of the zoo until the situation was brought under control.

He said the association had mobilised veterinary experts to immediately commence treatment on the animal to save it from untimely death.

I will come back to that story above…meanwhile our year has been eclipsed by the pandemic, the rush of a virus paralysing societies across the world. Some governments offered smarter, more scientific, and humane approaches to the pandemic. While others were missing in action, putting political needs ahead of the population, and playing with profit and superstition.

In Nigeria, COVID19 continues to expose our underbelly of greed, lackadaisical attitude, leadership deficit, as governments across board could not exactly operate in a measured, swift, and deliberate way to inform the public, to use the government machinery to test the population for COVID-19, to carry out contact tracing, to isolate and treat the infected, and to take all possible measures to flatten the curve.

Furthermore, as a result of a long history of unorganised public action in the state –an awakening called #endSARS fell short but has left traces of what the future may hold for a political and elite class that is hard of hearing, because if we continue in this trajectory soon, and later than imagined despite a division across all sorts of artificial lines, such as religion, ethnicity; poverty and hunger will unite the young populace, and social reformers – trade unions, cooperatives, student and youth organisations, women’s organisations, and others to seal the cracks in a disciplined way to provide information and relief to the public to fight for her right. (That revolution may not be televised)

In reflection of that revolution I drifted into a deep sleep. It was early March 2023, Nigeria had held local body elections across the states. The party with youths and progressives won more seats in that election than all the seats won by the “old thieving past”. The old skool ruling party in Abuja, ran a vicious campaign against the Soro Soke Reformed Party, including harsh personal attacks directed at their new dynamic leaders. The media – controlled almost exclusively by the major private corporations and old breeds – led the attack on the SSRP and ignored new initiatives pushed by the new breed in this remarkably difficult period for Nigeria.

For instance, the SSR had gradually from 2021 embarked on a thirty-four new public schools for the Nigeria ‘Centre of Excellence’ project, which resulted in the slow return of children from expensive private schools to the revamped state schools. The SSR mobilised and were building about 250,000 homes for the working class and the indigent through the Nigeria ‘Life Mission’.

Nigeria was about to witness growth, SSRP needed to guide the nation with a series of important advantages. First, over the course of the next few years of struggle and governance, they had an agenda to improve the living conditions of the people, including by promoting health, education, and housing, and an inculcated tradition of public action. An enlivened system of local self-government bodies and crucial platforms for public action and for the development of Nigeria with a true practical federal system was evolving and slowly working. A new exemplary record of managing crises in all forms. An alertness to the needs of the people, providing relief and succour, a purposeful fight against social indignity, and a fight expanding the rights of people was taking place.

Mallam Didi won his seat from Tundun Naira (local self-government at the village level), which had been represented by both PDP and APC for over 22 years. He  turned thirty-one, the minimum age to contest these polls, the day before he filed his nomination. He is a member of the SSRP and of the Democratic Youth Federation of Nigeria (DYFN), both mass organisations, and a leader in his college union. During the pandemic, Didi had worked for the ‘helping hand’ programme started by KU Olori, a women leader and the local representative to the state legislature; through the programme, they aid anyone who required it during the lockdown. During his campaign, Didi kept a diary, in which he noted down the frustrations and demands of the people. He was happy that Nigeria finally was giving young people the opportunity to run in these elections. ‘If people have a good opinion of me after five years’, she said, ‘that is the real victory’.

General Danjy, sixty-one years old, is the president of naijanarratives, an organisation of a million children that works to promote scientific and secular values in children that was set up on 28 December 2004 via BBM, its first president was the amiable Shaxx young activist and democrat. The old General believes ‘Local bodies are the nerves of the democratic process of Nigeria not the Abuja political class’, he said. ‘It is important that we have young people committed to the cause of democracy being elected to office. It is through the local office that we can make sure that everyone benefits from the alternative being developed in the state. I have few years left but I am committed to a true Nigeria’.

Naomi, at thirty-six-year-old, is already a veteran in the movement for Nigeria. She is a leader in the DYFN and the All-Nigerian Democratic Women’s Association (ANDWA). She had already been a member of the Jos South (council) since 2022 as a staff, but now she has been elected and is expected to become the president of the district council. Not only was Naomi a key person in the fight against COVID-19 in her district, but she has led from the front to make basic improvements in daily life there and has led protests in solidarity with the peoples’ revolt that helped stem the slide into insecurity.

I woke up and it was still 2020, the year citizens were killed and no one cared, abductions, kidnapping took first position in the list of havocs of the year, it was the year our leaders denied us a mere N30 indomie yet promising us utopia. It was the year that our leaders asked us to pray and leave it to God even when we elected them on the premise of the agendas they now ask us to leave to God.

A nation that cares about nothing, gets most things wrong is not what we should be, going into the next few years in front of us, but sadly that is where we are, floods make it impossible to feed animals, leadership vacuum makes it impossible for anything to work, this is not what we deserve but can we change the trajectory, can we feed our nation, her people, her animals with some hope that all can still be well

If Nigeria will remain, loads of hardwork lay ahead, the current political class in unable, they lack the political will, the citizens are not asking the right questions, then how do we get the right answers—Only time will tell.

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