In accordance with a pseudoscience called Astrology practiced and believed by many people, I should consider June 1 as a lucky day in my life. I don’t. I won’t. I don’t believe in superstition. But no doubt, the day stands unique in my life for at least two life-shaping, life-changing events: both my dream job and my dearest wife came to my life on this day in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Thus, I think the day, annually, deserves a particular remembrance and commemoration, even though in, strictly speaking, a non-ritualistic style. That is why I write to, among other things, thank the Almighty Allah. I generally have a lot to thank Him for, not only these days. Alhamdulillah.
This year is unforgettable, though quite tough. I and my wife returned to Nigeria from India after a two-year postgraduate study on June 24, 2015, less than a month into the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB). We couldn’t believe what we met here, for the prices of several basic food stuffs, even then, were higher than we were used to there. For instance, a crate of egg cost between Rs. 90 to 100 (i.e. N280 to N300) there, but it cost N800 in Nigeria! A kilogram of the Irish potato cost Rs. 10 (i.e. N30) in India, but it cost nothing less than N200 in Nigeria, etc. If we had our way, we would have gone back to India.
Nigeria is however our fatherland, the one and only country we can rightfully call ours. I love Nigeria and always pray for it to move forward. But, truthfully speaking, neither the government nor the citizens are ready for that. The miserable economic situation of Nigeria is no longer a story to tell today. The prices of almost everything under the sun has doubled or multiplied due to the government’s unrealizable policies, and the marketers’ greediness. Naira is collapsing. No employment, etc. Nothing, literally speaking, works well in this country. Yet, we thank Allah for His multitude other mercies. Allah vows to provide more to His servant who thanks Him for His blessings, and to punish he who is ungrateful.
We are appreciative. It is a fact that he who has a permanent job is blessed in an enormous way in Nigeria and everywhere else. Equally important, he whom lives with a dutiful, caring, God-fearing, loving, educated, you name it, wife should be grateful to Allah, for he is gifted with the best of blessings in the world. So many are married, but not all are contented with their life partners. I am.
The secret of a happy family is nothing hidden, as I wrote last year. Quarrelling is though bad, but it is unavoidable. It makes a boring life a fascinating one. Don’t let it however escalate. Come together, discuss and sort it out by yourselves. Inviting a third party is something you should avoid as much as possible. We are often insipidly lectured by our elders to be patient and let things go. The “things” don’t actually go anywhere just like that. They go only when you rinse out your heart and mind via dialogue, not brawl. Don’t stomach a grudge. It accumulates and exacerbates.
I have been telling several newly wedded couples the above. Communicate always with your spouse. No one is nearer to you, and no one should know you better. There is a limit to what can be stomached, and limit to everything. The same way if you wrongly think that you are Mr. or Mrs. Patience, so you can always forgive your partner. It does not work. It works only when you sit down, talk, talk and talk. And do not argue, for it often overflows. Talk, understand, amend, if there is the need of that, or forgive and forge ahead.
The Nigeria of my Dream
On a deeper reflection, I forget the hardship being experienced by the average Nigerians like myself; I ignore all the trepidation and muster more courage and forge ahead. Life is well. I still believe that someday, now or later, in our days or after us, that this country will attain greatness. We shall someday be more proud of our being Nigerians, God Willing. But it cannot happen overnight. We have to strive for that.
I dream of a Nigeria where there is a stable power supply, sustained security, flourishing job opportunities, running industries, and generally, prosperity. We cannot achieve that unless we change our attitude. We should, first of all, liberalize ourselves and quit being bigots – ideologically, ethnically, and regionally – and embrace nationalism and patriotism. We should learn to think of others, not ourselves always. We should learn to do for others what we would want others do unto us. I, for one, deploy that in my life. Although I seldom, if not often, end up disappointed, I have never relented.
The government, which is awkwardly called “the mother of all”, has a lot to offer to bolster the aforementioned. The previous governments have essayed some efforts to patch up our differences through the creation of, for instance, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. There ought to be more such programs. The 1984/85 Buhari military regime initiative, War Against Indiscipline (WAI) should be reinstituted, though in a democratic way now. Nigerian citizenry need more enlightenment on the significance of tolerance and peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and respect for the elderly; and, generally, nationalism.
I would suggest, at this juncture, teaching of history and civic education in all our institutions and at all levels. We should never forget our past for that will guide us for the present and the future; to continue what is good, and to stop what is bad.
Everyone has stories to tell. This is my third consecutive article concerning the June 1 commemoration. As the Kenyan ace writer, Ngugi would say, I write not for the sake of writing but with the intent and the expectation to see changes in our society. I hope this slice of the year’s (June, 2015 to June, 2016) experience has given you some things to ponder or follow; forget or recall; take or leave.
Allah ya sa mu dace, amin.