By Prince Charles Dickson Ph.D.
You only learn to ask questions by asking questions
At the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. This is number eleven, and one more to go.
So, I am writing this from Chemnitz, a city in Saxony, eastern Germany. I am inside the Technische Universität Chemnitz in English, it is Chemnitz University of Technology. And I am reflecting, and saying to myself, stop comparing joor.
Chemnitz is a strong city, but one that has plenty of problems, it is home to loads of far-right extremists who always find footholds in any conflict to get into the middle of the society. However, they are wonderful hosts, people who have this serious demeanour. Every sentence was punctuated by the need to get me and my team a safe space. You heard that–Safe space.
Now, I help put it in perspective, for a city that is currently the European Capital of Culture for 2025,
Chemnitz is the Saxonian Manchester, my state Plateau, and city Jos, is supposed to be some kind of Chemnitz! Textiles were a central pillar of the local economy.
The city was a hub of invention – six times more patents were registered than the German average. Are you thinking what I am thinking like they say in local parlance?
It is the original home of Audi.
The luxury car maker is normally associated with the city of Ingolstadt. But it was actually founded in Chemnitz in the 1930s when four major car companies of the time were united under one brand – Auto-Union (hence the four rings joined together.)
The golden days for the city of Chemnitz came in the 19th century when it was one of the first German cities to embrace the revolutionary technology of steam power.
Do you remember when some legislator suggested that we change the name of Nigeria to United African Republic or United Alkebulan Republic as Nigeria’s new name. In 1953, the communist leadership of the GDR renamed the city Karl Marx Stadt, saying that the city deserved the honour due to its history of active political engagement among its proletariat. There is still a huge granite bust of the 19th century economist in the city centre.
The city that was rebuilt would have been barely recognisable to someone who grew up in Chemnitz in the late 19th century. The opulent Gründerzeit architecture was replaced by endless rows of Plattenbau.
The name was changed back to Chemnitz almost immediately after reunification when three quarters of the population voted in favour of the original name.
The history of Chemnitz isn’t just rocky in the metaphorical sense, it has quite literally been influenced by the rock of the Ore mountains. When we think of German cities with a mountain view the mind obviously springs to Munich. But Chemnitz is one of the few other Großstädte that sits at the foot of a mountain range.
In recent history, Chemnitz is best know for a neo-Nazi march which took place there in 2018 after a local man was stabbed to death by a refugee.
There was local unrest over several days and neo-Nazis descended on the city where they also attacked migrants and gave the Hitler salute. A mass concert in the aftermath with people coming from across the country to stand against right-wing extremism.
Despite the serene environment, Chemnitz, the fastest ageing city in Europe is the opposite of Nigeria, with one of the fastest growing productive youth populations in the world.
Now, here lies the real deal, @Chemist…I mean in Nigeria, we currently have three musketeers all vying for the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria. Our nation, our Nigeria, one that defies meaning, a country known by its various myths as an identity in a strict form, known by her nationalities rather than a nationality. A people that her leaders have misdirected as a lack of direction.
And so, as the election approaches fast, we are not asking the question, the hard questions are being willfully avoided. Nationalities are not happy, and candidates are not addressing it in the real manner with purpose, Biafra and the Yoruba nation is a growing conversation as a result of different perspectives and understanding of marginalization.
Chemnitz has a very well-developed public transport system which enables you to move conveniently and rapidly within the city as well as in its surroundings. In the city of Chemnitz, buses also go at night. Trams, Busses and Chemnitz Bahn Networks define the efficiency at which transportation works in the city.
While transportation is not under the list of what a president should be thinking, but really it is what a president should be thinking about, it is what leadership should be thinking of, it is what a Babajide Sanwo-Olu should be thinking of solving for more than 15million Lagosians, and if he cannot solve it, neither the obidients, atikulated or night sighted bats can do any different for Nigeria.
And this is so, because when leadership does not have answers to the small issues, and citizens have not learned the act, and art of asking questions, 2023 will be no different, an election will hold, there will be pockets of violence, and more but nothing will change because we do not yet know, understand and desire nationhood beyond the rhetoric of the personaes that desire power rather than crave responsibility to leave a mark in the sands of time.
The country Nigeria will continue to be plagued by local chemists with fake, expired drugs and many losing their lives not directly as a result of their ineptitude but because our hospitals are not working, and in seven years the last man standing could not get the clinic in the villa working.
I will end with this story as told to me by my in-law who has by the way spent some three decades in Germany. He is into renewable energy, and at some point, years back under the dispensation of one of those governors who supposedly ‘worked’, he was hit by the ‘spirit’ and decided that wanted to go back home and give back, contribute, do something differently for his home country, and home state.
Packed his back, and went home, and after several attempts, he could not see the governor, could not see anyone that was receptive to his idea, those that were supposed to be advisors to the governor on matters of renewable energy asked him for bribes to be able to get the project the attention of the governor who was ‘busy’.
He went back to Germany, our loss, Germany’s gain, as he continues to advise the German government on matters related to his expertise…
In case you don’t get my drift, we are not ready, it is not about a unifier, or some dude who has a sense of entitlement and has made people of some dude who carries his bag, or flies’ economy. It is about people, it is about really engaging, it is about asking scary questions and giving answers that are unconventional. It is about a leader that is willing to discuss a three-state or more states solution, a regional, a confederal, a loose federation, a strong purposeful benevolent dictatorship and more.
If not, whether na Emeka, Abdul of Aminu, the chemist shop is all concocting poison, these musketeers are not yet addressing the issues, we say in Yoruba proverb A kì í fi ẹ̀tẹ̀ sílẹ̀ pa làpálàpá. / Do not leave leprosy unattended while preoccupied with treating ringworm. As the election draws near, Nigerian if it does exists, must think perceptively and strategically: we are losing sight of the forest for the trees: there is a bigger picture; things are often more than they seem—Only time will tell.
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