Wednesday 29 September 2010
Nigeria At 50
I've known Nigeria for 19 years and I still don't understand her. She's a bit too temperamental for my liking.
When I first met her she loved me. I'm sure of it because whenever my parents gave me a little money to buy sweets, Nigeria would make sure that money stretched a long way. Just 5 Naira could buy me a whole bag of sweets and let me not even start on the wonders that 10 Naira could perform.
But then as I grew older, Nigeria's love for me cooled because whenever my parents gave me 5 Naira, she wouldn't stretch it for me and all I could come back with was one measly strip of chewing gum.
Or maybe Nigeria was just concerned for my teeth that's why she kept making the price of sweets go up and up and higher and up. Maybe she loved me after all?
But what about the time when she allowed the bombs explode outside my house. True she said it was an accident but what kind of accident is that? Hundreds of my siblings died because of her stupid accident. Or the time she made my father queue six hours to buy half a tank of petrol True, she said she was working on it but she's been working on it for years!
Please don't think I'm a pushover in this relationship and I just take Nigeria's rubbish lying down. I get angry with her. I rant. I rave. Then she promises she will do better, she even shows me some of the things she's doing to change. Like the time I spent a ten day vacation with her and she showed me the road she's widened to reduce the traffic.
"But it doesn't stretch far enough," I said. "You've only widened part of it and the rest of it is the same. It's still too narrow."
"I know," she said, "I know but I've started and I'm working on it," she whined, "I'm working on it."
Then she showed me a rail road that had been clogged by traders who had built their stalls on the tracks. Nigeria had broken up their stalls and chased them away to make way for her new train system that would revolutionise transport.
"But what about the people that used to work here," I shouted. "What have you done to compensate them?"
"What do you mean nothing?"
"I'm working on it," she said, taking my hand and showing me the tracks that were empty for the first time in years.
"You said I should make progress didn't you?" she said cutting me off. "Well this is progress."
"But what about the people who don't have jobs because you've kicked them out?"
"I'm working on it," she said. "At least say well done for the one I've done."
So on the eve of Nigeria's 50th, I say well done for the one you've done. It is not enough. It is nowhere near enough but it's your birthday so I'll relax because it's rude to point out flaws on a friend's birthday. Come October 2nd, we'll discuss.