In my almost four decades on earth, the last time I experienced the kind of hopelessness currently in the country was at the peak of late dictatorial military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha in the late 90s. In a book, I published in 2016, What is Left of What is Right? I made mention of how during one of the dark days, my mother had to resort to a meal of boiled unripe bananas (not plantain) for the family, as that was the only food in the house and we could not wait for it to get ripe. Well, I could not eat it. I do not remember if my mum ate hers either.
Although life has since improved for my family no doubt, still, it will be self-delusional for me to assume some people are not in such poor conditions in the present-day economic reality of Nigeria. What then is the way forward? A violent revolution that will leave us in a greater mess? War and secession? Dialogue that has fallen on deaf ears? Massive migration as it is happening already? Calm down, hang in there, there is an unseen eye watching over us.
In 1996, beans which was the most common food for the poor masses as rice with or without stones was luxury at that time, suddenly became very expensive. The poor Nigerian masses, like my family at that time, relied so much on beans as a source of cheap protein. It was the readily available source of protein to ‘balance’ the high carbohydrate content in garri (processed cassava). So, the high cost of beans was a national disaster. The cries were everywhere. The inflation was heart-wrenching, coupled with a dictatorial leader who seemed to be interested in Nigerians’ deaths.
Then suddenly, the news of beans as the cause of some recorded deaths in southwestern Nigeria went viral. People started to avoid beans. #Killerbeans filled the media space and the demand for the commodity crashed like a pack of cards. Wow, the poor masses celebrated it. Hope was rekindled and our lives became normal again. It took the efforts of government officials, like the then military administrator of Lagos State, Col. Buba Marwa to take to the streets sensitizing the masses, and even eating ‘akara’ for everyone to see in a bid to restore patronage of the product.
After that was settled, obviously by divine intervention, the military dictator started plans to impose himself as a democratic President via a kangaroo election that would present him as the sole candidate. His stooges, which to me were more like his captives, as those who opposed him were jailed with or forced to go on self-exile due to threats to their lives, went everywhere proclaiming how this dictator was the best thing to have happened to Nigeria. The fear of the dictator permeated through the length and breadth of the nation. Freedom of the press existed then only in theory but was non-existent in practice.
And then, everyone thought the nation was doomed. Those who could afford it left the ‘cursed’ nation thinking it would not survive the new millennium without a civil war or total collapse under the dictator. But alas, the hand of the Lord is not shortened that He cannot save us, neither are His ears deaf that He cannot hear our cries… On June 8th, 1998, a piece of breaking news flooded the entire country. The dictator had met his waterloo. Gen. Sani Abacha had died. Some said he was gone for good! What a relief to the masses who hitherto had become his conquered subjects!
A ray of hope came when his successor promised a return to democratic rule and increased the salary of workers to alleviate the poverty in the land.
Fellow Nigerians, I know many of you did not see the present situation coming when you joined the “anything but Jonathan” gang. To be candid, I think we would still have been in a mess if it was under Jonathan, perhaps under different slave masters, but this I know, and I am persuaded beyond what tongues can tell, that there is a hand of God in the affairs of this nation.
Don’t give in to despair, hang on, let those who think they own the country continue to permutate towards 2023. Our God is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness. Those who take His longsuffering for granted will be made to realise that ‘He rules over the affairs of this nation!’
Don’t give up on this nation; those who are trying to ruin it won’t be here forever. Hang on, for God is involved!
IDEDE Oseyande writes from Uyo.
Aledeh News is not liable for opinions expressed in this article, they’re strictly the writer’s.