A nation, and people with no staying power

“Don’t ask the deaf man to beat a drum for you to dance”… Anonymous

I love Nigeria, we are largely a people with a short fuse memory, preferring to forget very quickly from a point of learning slowly, we either never remember or we choose to totally forget.

We are a nation that has no staying power. We do not have the staying power to push through an issue or go through substance, our strength or determination to keep going until we reach the end of any matter is lacking.

Our deficit of staying power is deadly and often at the root of many of the problems we face.

Only last week, a funeral Mass was held by the Catholic Church in Taraba state in honour of Reverend Father David Tanko, a priest who was killed recently by gunmen in Kpankufu village in Takum Local government area of the state. The Catholic Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, Most Reverend Father Charles Hammawa, said it was not easy to accept the circumstances that led to his death.

The bishop also asked the government to use the institutional and constitutional power at its disposal to end the crisis between the Jukun and Tiv people in the state. Something that will not be done because we lack the political will, the staying power to look the issues in the eye with an aim to solving it no matter who’s toes has to be badly marched.

The younger brother of the deceased, Jerry Yakubu, and one of his relatives, Ishaya Andokari, said the family had decided not to seek justice in any way, pointing out that they have left the matter in God’s hands. Very deep, and this is partly why we are where we are, institutional failure, like the Reverend Father in Taraba, like the one in Enugu, like the lives in Zamfara, like those in Jos, or is it Zaria, or Southern Kaduna…lives of Nigerians no matter the faith or ethnic coloration like the late priest who was killed with his body burnt along with his vehicle. A cursory look across our conflicts will show you reports of commission of enquiries. Committees’ reports littered everywhere and no one has the political will to see through them. How many high profile killings, whether Bola Ige, or Dokuboh we just gloss over it and move ahead? No staying power!

Our case like the, “Mocking bird, you are accused of insulting the king.” It asked when would it have time to insult the king, seeing that it must sing two hundred songs in the morning, two hundred in the afternoon, and two hundred at night, mixing it all up with some frolicsome notes?

Like xenophobia or something Lai Mohammed said or did not say, in the midst of it all we are best battling each other along religious, ethnic and party lines. The divides, dichotomies and compartmentalisation keep growing. Like the Mocking bird making unnecessary excuses and noise.

We forget that only in 1994, England banned Nigeria Airways for missing their landing schedule at Gatwick Airport. Nigeria’s Head of State, Sani Abacha, quickly banned British Airways from flying into Nigeria. Due to the fact that Nigeria was a major market for them, they lifted the ban. We forget quickly that because of no staying power we lost it all, as recent as 1997 air services between the UK and Nigeria were suspended in early June as a reciprocal ban of British and Nigerian registered aircraft assumed wider political implications. It was patriotically gratifying to read the Wall Street Journal headline “Nigeria Bans British Airways In Continued Aviation Dispute”.

At that time Nigeria Airways’ practically who only had a handful of aircrafts and had been forced to ‘outsource’ some international operations to Nigerian carrier Bellview Airlines could make ‘yanga’. As talks were on between the governments and UK authorities said Nigeria Airways aircraft would be allowed to resume services if the UK Civil Aviation Authority declared them safe. Inspectors were refused visas to enter Nigeria. It was the era we damned the Commonwealth, and yes we were guilty of several human rights infractions, but the point is we had a foreign policy we barked and could bite.

One of the main reasons for our continuous failure is a lack of persistence. We live in a society where almost everything is “instant” and available on tap. This, “instant” mentality robs many of us of the lucrative advantages of critical thinking and follow through on issues and subject of national importance.

We are not able to grind something out until the desired outcome is achieved. Day one; attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. Day two; we ask for compensation. Day 200; case closed. We simply have forgotten and moved on. After all the noise about how we helped South Africa during the apartheid era, how much we donated, Obasanjo’s letter to them Margaret Thatcher, or that epic song by Sunny Okosun detesting Apartheid, how have we either brought the something to the table, or shaken the table or been responsible for bringing the table itself by way of foreign policy.

Whether it’s a snake swallowing or monkey-stealing baboon. We are brilliant at starting, but poor at seeing them through. A dramatic nation and her people full of dramatis personae, with knee jerk proportions reaction, snippier becomes a problem, we ban it, without looking at the issues. We are predictable, whether we are fighting corruption; political clothing is a see through determinant on the guilt or otherwise of the accused.

The foundation of quitters is made up of fear and doubt. They are the ones that can tell you endless stories of the “big one that got away.” They always blame something or someone for their poor track record. And this is our story, tell me one ex-governor and I would show you an unfinished tale. Show me a Nigerian leader and we would hold a long ‘hmmm’ -mouthed conversation about how he or she simply became a political office holder who had dreams that was never fulfilled.

Nigeria as a nation and her people has a poor persistence…the leadership and the people are birds of same plumage, there are reasons aplenty, excuses abound why this could not be done.

If police lacks manpower and equipment, the military is highhanded in it’s approach and descends on sister forces or the citizens, politicians pay themselves and owe the populace, they clap for themselves when senior citizens are paid stipends for decades of public service while they allocate to themselves billions for work not done and we celebrate them largely because we have no staying power to ask for what really matters.

Staying power is why roads done in the colonial era or houses and quarters in many states of the federation built in the yore years are still motorable and standing firm while those of yesterday are eye sores, in fact they are tagged political roads, roads with benefits only for the politicians and for political gains and considerations.

Let me end with this riddle; a man is wearing black, black shoes, socks, trousers, and, gloves. He is walking down a black street with all the street lamps off. A black car is coming towards him, its lights off but somehow manages to stop in time. How did the driver see the man? He saw the man because it was daytime, when will it be day for Nigeria, her leaders, and people to see through all our dramas and face the issues head on? Only time will tell.

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