I am often puzzled when Nigerians in the media or other platforms talk about the Nigerian dream.
ISIGUZO, CHIKWURAH DESTINY
I am often puzzled when Nigerians in the media or other platforms talk about the Nigerian dream. I always try to decipher what the Nigerian dream really is. All the times, I fail to point at anything I can adjudge as the Nigerian dream often touted by politicians, and the elites seeking electoral offices. Even Nigerian history does not reveal at any point in time that this country had any collective consciousness towards achieving any goal without ethnic, religious, political, group and individual sentiments and opposition. As ambiguous as this Nigerian dream sounds, none of these people who tout it have ever come out to define what it means. Whether it is copy or an imitation of the American dream, they are yet to tell us. Historically speaking, Nigerians cannot copy the American dream verbatim as the consciousness and history of America and Nigeria are not the same. The American Dream is America’s national consciousness rooted in their constitution and the Declaration of Independence which partly reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, which among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This sets the American ideals: democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality; in which there is freedom and great opportunity for people to prosper and be successful through hard work and obedience to the laws and constitution of America. Thus, the government protects individuals and groups’ opportunity to pursue prosperity and happiness and achieve their potential. Even immigrants in America and aliens in distant countries have come to believe and identify with the American dream yet; most Nigerian youths do not even believe they can make it in this country through hard work. Give them an opportunity they will leave in their troves and you will have a near empty country. Honest businesses hardly thrive, indigenous inventors and investors are not encouraged, and the mediocre get more opportunity than the brains as long as they are related to a politician or a government official. Even with the racism and slavery that is a fundamental flaw of the American dream, Nigeria cannot boast of any dream even if it has flaws.
Even before we got independence in 1960, Nigeria killed any opportunity of forging a national dream rooted on progress and equality. What we have before and since independence are ethnics, religious, political parties, and class’ dreams rooted in nepotism, hatred, bigotry, deceit, greed, corruption, inordinate ambition and intolerance. From the beginning of the beginning and historically too, all effort to create a true Nigerian dream have been frustrated. A typical example is the Anthony Enahoro’s failed motion for self rule in the Federal House in 1953. Historians are of the view that the motion failed because the northern parliamentarians of the NPC party out of fear and suspicion of marginalization opposed the motion thus the motion failed and Nigeria’s independence was postponed. I have never seen a true progress oriented people reject freedom on the altar of mere sentiment. Compare this to the unity of the founding fathers of America during the declaration of independence and you will understand our failure to have a national dream. Many have argued that Nigeria’s failed nationality is as a result of her complexity and homogenous nature, but on the contrary, America is more homogenous and complex than Nigeria with their population made up of all the tribes, race, and countries of the world: blacks, whites, Asians, Africans, Caucasians, etc. Yet, no matter their creed, ideology, or race, America comes first.
The difference between America and Nigeria is that in America they believe in equality and liberty. That is, the life of a farmer in Benue should not worth more than the life of a Fulani Herdsman. In simple terms, your farming business does not worth more than my animal husbandry before the government and the law no matter who occupies the seat of power. All Americans are free to legally pursue their dreams unmolested because of the protection of guaranteed them. And you don’t get to see any political office holder taking sides with a an ethnic group out of mere sentiment, screaming that “my people” are being killed or posting on a social media platform that whoever kills someone of a particular tribe took a loan that is repayable. Such barbaric clannishness is our real problem in Nigeria. Flashback to the crisis that led to the civil war in 1967 and you will discover that at the core root of any crisis in this country are nepotism, suspicion and intolerance leading the pack.
I will tell you want I think is the Nigerian dream and maybe you should also tell me what is yours. There is no Nigerian dream. What people are calling a Nigerian dream is MASSOB and IPOB’s relentless effort to secede the South East from Nigeria and call her Biafra; the Fulani Herdsmen quest for their cows to feed on people’s farm products without repercussion and then be given land in all the states in Nigeria for their private ranching business, and a gruesome attack of any community that will not recognise that their cows are more privileged citizens of this country. In fact the lesser citizens should either surrender their ancestral land to the Fulani herdsmen or be killed as suggested by the statement of the media spokesman of the former dictator, General Buhari. Is what you call the Nigerian dream the quest of Lagos state to get a special status while the states in the Niger-Delta region are being milked dry daily, leaving them to bear alone the ecological disaster that comes with crude oil exploration while the rest of us enjoy the fruit of the disaster? Maybe the Nigerian dream is the political crisis going on in this country as Dasuki’s PDP is ever determined to unseat APC’s Buhari while APC through the wizardry of Uncle Lai Muhammed lie their way out of every scandal and seems to be sending the EFCC, DSS, Nigerian police and so on after guilty, real and imaginary enemies.
Or maybe the Nigerian dream is the subjection of the poor and powerless to particular policies like the NYSC scheme while others who will or may be serving in government forge their exemption certificates and still get the state to cover up such criminal offence? Of course in Nigeria cows are sacred, I mean there are sacred cows.
Already filled up government jobs by the children of politicians and other highly recommended persons are advertised while the rest of us gather at stadiums, fields etc only to be stampede to death. Tell me what the Nigerian dream is. Is it the dream of most youths to get a chance as political office holders so they can also steal their own part of the national cake and get their own chieftaincy titles from their communities and villages; or their dream to support old, incompetent, and recycled failed politicians in the next general election to continue the corruption, lies, and crass broad day light looting? I will tell you another Nigerian dream: that money should be shared at the polling units so they can sell their votes as it happened in the recent Ekiti gubernatorial election. In fact some of us dream and pray that God should send us a Dasuki. Nigerian dream? Which dream?
Less I forget, maybe the Nigerian dream is the dream of the CEOs, sorry, I mean the General overseers to keep receiving tithes and offering from criminal elements, give them seats in the front pew and invite them to the alter for special prayer and anointing service so that the church will keep prospering, new jets and universities acquired and the gate of hell will not prevail. “This is Nigeria”, and what we call the Nigerian dream “be criminal”.