Nigeria…Cannot Be Like Before, Before


By Prince Charles Dickson
On Monday mid-morning hoodlums raided my house in Jos, they carted away electronics and left extensive damage as the broke in through the children's room window.

The kids were in school and madam was out too. They turned the house upside down…I cannot find my international passport and other items. As the days go, we discover another item missing. I do not know what to make of it'.

Meanwhile, killings were taking place in Bauchi and the environs; this is despite the Jos mayhem that is yet to go away.

This is not strange, it has become an everyday occurrence in Nigeria, no one is safe…God bless the Sultan who put it in one sentence…”Nothing is working”.

It was the masked one, Lagabaja that sang the song that says something like this.

“…before-before Nigeria original we dey buy, anything wey you wan buy you go find, just carry your money go market, you go find…but today original no dey…today na tokunboh dey”.

While this is just a piece of music, it captures the painful reality that has become Nigeria. Maybe not all of the reality but with this I 'd like us to reflect on the next couple of lines and again ask ourselves…any hope, what really is the matter, are we serious, sick, making progress or as someone put it…are we 'dis'progressing?

The phrase 'before before' is a local parlance used to refer to the past and in Nigeria that 'before before' is a glorious past.

Before-before, when you were graduating from any of our then very few universities, you had a job waiting for you. The universities were few but then they were indeed ivory towers. Handouts were not sold, students either passed or failed, it was strange to hear that the lecturer victimized me or wants to 'go out with me'.

Then you got your admission letter and there was a porter waiting for you with soap, essentials and there was a symphony of harmony between the school and you. You were prepared for school and vis a vis.

But now with over a hundred and more degree awarding status in the country, we are producing, half-done, half-baked and in recent times…not cooked at all graduates.

Now it cost in cases over 5M to get an education for 4years in the so-called private universities and many hundreds of thousands in the 'always striking public universities'.

Before-before, most of us all went to public schools but now, except you want to ruin it for the kid…better look for the cheapest nonsense called 'private school'.

Before-before, both Kano and Lagos had a budget of very few millions, and we saw development, the pyramids were there and Lagos continued to race. But now, a thief in government buys a plane for his personal use for millions and says it's cheaper transport for him.

Before-before, in the all the axis of this country, north and south, kids could boast of at least seeing the likes of Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikwe, Awolowo, once before they finished their education.

But now we became South-South, North-East, South-West and North West and even local government chairmen do not know the number of schools in their domain.

Before-before Ghanaians came to Nigeria as teachers, to sell 'puff-puff' and repair our shoes, we pursued them in Ghana must go bags. But now our leaders have stolen us dry in same Ghana must go bags and we are fleeing to Ghana.

Before-before, a return ticket to Obodo oyinbo was N200 and it continued to increase until now, a Pound is more than N250.

Before-before while driving and your car broke down on the highway, all you need do was to wave and other cars driving by would fall on themselves to help you.

However today, armed robbers would attack you on the same highway and leave you practically naked and fellow Nigerians would drive pass and ponder in the car with their partner…'see fresh mad man'.

Before-before we were not moralist or perfect either, but then you daughter would not dream having a boyfriend, just like that. Now, that same daughter would 'date' a married man and say…'they are more loving than single brothers'.

Before-before, we would shiver, quack and argue if we saw money on the floor and then agree to pick to return it via all the means available, but today, ask same kids, for a direction to some place unknown to you. They'll ask you for money first and then give you a wrong direction.

Before-before, our big men and women died with us, at least at home or teaching hospitals because then the teaching hospitals really taught. Now our leaders die in London, US and Azerbaijan because that's where their stomach indigestion and migraine which they get as a result of loot get treated.

What is the matter with us, we bicker about the inequality amongst us. The North-South parapoism, Christian-Islam dichotomy, quota system, federal character and still it's like we are doomed.

We asked for a graduate, we now have two…infact disciples of sciences whom we falsely thought would think scientifically and solve our problems. Unfortunately they are creating more problems socially, economically, and scientifically.

Before-before, it was really a sign of affluence to see first a generating set and then hearing one in operation was almost unheard of. Now, there are neighborhoods popularly called 'face me I face you' where you would get 10 generating sets called 'I pass my neighbor blaring with noise and air pollution, not to mention deaths caused by those generating sets.

Before-before there were urban and rural areas but today…you need to visit a city like Jos Aba, Owerri, Ibadan…no light, no water, bad schools, bad roads, bushes, erosions and you can hardly spot the difference between a rural community and the urban ends.

Can't remember the last time a poor child got a scholarship, because now it is only the rich that CAN afford it that get it.

Before-before, despite all the imperfection, we were truly a great people and a great nation, we did not need re-branding or branding. How could I forget that we had so much money and not knowing what to do…we hosted a masquerade festival called FESTAC but today the town called FESTAC represents all that is wrong with Nigeria?

In case we have forgotten, before-before we wrote letters that ended with 'doxology”, the post office worked and we collected stamps. But today we write 'blow out' scam letters and it ends with pay into the following account number.

We have seen the advent of GSM and the miracle of globalization through info-tech, but we cannot seem to blend a progressive form of change that will be beneficial to the generality of the masses.

The nation's web site is dormant; we have become a political and democratic embarrassment. Multi-nationals that once were the pride of this nation are now going to Togo, Ghana, and Cape Verde.

Despite the civil war, the bitterness and rancor, we came out tops but as the years rolled on, it alarmingly went from bad to worse. Nurses stole drugs from the general hospital to their private medicine stores, and doctors opened their 'better' hospitals.

Let me end with this tale…before-before when you gave a contractor money to buy fish, he would add his profit and settle every person in the Ministry of Agriculture and at least the fish would be supplied...but today the same contractor would take the money share and run…no fish, no money.

Matter of fact, Nigeria cannot be the same o, something has to give in, we cannot continue like this, its break or mar. We are in trouble, there is in trouble in the land. Almighty Allah help us to help ourselves.

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