Does Nigeria Concern You?
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We grab a dog with the hands and it escapes; thereafter we beckon it with two fingers. (If both hands cannot detain a dog, two fingers from a distance will not bring it to where it escaped from.)
Sometime in 2012 I wrote under the above title, “How Nigeria take concern me”. A lot in that particular admonition still resonates with us, and I see it important to remind us with a few lines in that essay, and in the light of a new year.
‘Concern’ is an English word, used both as a verb either reflective or passive, and as a noun.
1. Concern means to relate to; to be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect: The state of killings ‘concerns’ us.
2. Used in the passive, to interest or engage: We should ‘concern’ ourselves with how we are governed.
3. To trouble, worry: Are you ‘concerned’ about how much will be spent feeding persons in the villa?
4. As a noun–something that relates or pertains to a person; business; affair: Nigeria should be the ‘concern’ of every Nigerian.
5. A matter that engages a person’s attention, interest, or care, or that affects a person’s welfare or happiness: ‘Concerning’ Nigeria, there is need for government to provide social services.
How does defining ‘concern’ concern you…interestingly the word ‘concern’ finds home in our local lingua called pidgin and in my admonition this week, I ask in local parlance taking into cognizance the working definition and the thread meaning– does Nigeria ‘concern’ you, how ‘e take concern’ you, Nigeria dey worry you…?
Is there need for apprehension, are we drifting towards distress, should we be perturbed, troubled or bothered about the construct called Nigeria and her people?
For example, how ‘e take concern’ me and you how a man of ‘god’ chooses to display his wealth, or are we ‘concerned’ by the fact that in the midst of lack a lot of folks will spend money in crude fashion to obtain passports to heaven. The reason why Nigerians are more concerned about the early year prophecies from the many “god” of men around, than whether the government is on the right path.
I don’t know about you, but I am concerned and uneasy that we still have ghost schools, ghost teachers, fake graduates, and in a nation that seeks PhD teachers, we get PhD drivers by default of availability not choice. Indeed we talk trucks because the nation lacks an efficient train haulage system, so we strain roads that are already death traps. So I am concerned about Buhari’s train-promise…
In almost comical fashion in one mouthful we are all concerned in unison that ethnic nepotism, parapoism, sickening ‘unfederal discharacter’ is a major ill in our society. But in typically crying more than the bereaved or showing more concern than the ‘concerned’ attitude. We get anxious and disturbed by the terms, ‘they, them, us, our, we, their, those’ all depending on convenience and yet we want a united Nigeria to ‘concern’ us.
My friend and brother, Benjamin Aduba, in Boston puts it this way and I rephrase in this manner…”Nigerians want change, so long as the change no ‘concern’ them, …for others to change but not for me to change”.
We are all concerned about corrupt politicians and persons are punished, but as long as the culprit is our enemy.
We show concern in very queer manner by honoring same people that have turned our collective harvest to personal fiefdoms with institutional awards, traditional titles, as long as the person is from our side, all other things should not concern us.
We are concerned to paranoid if the government is to build or do something good, which is rare, it must be for us, with us, and by us or else it is not good. It concerns me more than anybody…if Dasuki’s rights are violated but does it concern us about the many that are in cell without even a case file.
Does it concern you that we generate power individually, buy portable water, educate our kids privately, provide healthcare for our families, both immediate and extended, run micro welfare and social security systems for family, and relatives, and still create other infrastructures despite being milked in taxes from a meager 18k stipend for those being paid that much…and still some governors even muse a reduction.
The problem with our ‘concerns’ is a top-down, down-up systemic failure. Like we are programmed towards grinding to halt, rather than repair, we are so accustomed to cosmetic dressing, ala Dr. 90210… So we focus our ‘concern’ on leadership, when it is as much a problem with followership.
Do you feel concerned that we are raising a dangerous mixed grill society with kids largely ‘schooled’ abroad, with allegiances to other nations and a home bred population of children denied education outrightly?
Don’t we feel irritated that, it is the same five and five pence from Umuahia, to Jos, Oshogbo to Minna, Sokoto to Eket, same political class and patrons displaying stupendous wealth in the ‘ very before’ of lack?
If one is not concerned, if you don’t care, if we are not bothered, we may be behind our comfort zone, there may be ease but it’s not calm…I may not be worried, you may not be troubled or see distress in Nigeria, you may be the eternal optimist, or cautious optimist, our hope may cloud reality, however let us remember that the leopard’s stealthy gait is not a result of cowardice…our actions or inaction is being stalked.
The Yorubas say “were were nikan njele” meaning slowly, slowly is the manner in which termites consume a house, our inconspicuous and imperceptible problems in time are piling…if ‘e no concern you now, e go concern you soon’
We have very little history of who we are as a country, at every turn in national discourse like the axiom, aki í fi ìyá ẹní dákú ṣeré, we joke that our mother has collapsed, always trifling with serious matters, playing with a loaded and primed gun. Forgetting that one does not hide something in one’s hand and yet swear [that one knows nothing about it]. We know our problems, but does it really concern us– only time will tell.
Written by Prince Charles Dickson