Letter to my nephew

The year 2020 was no doubt, a harrowing one. It was a year in which a lot of unpleasant things occurred. Chief among them was the Coronavirus disease 2019 which disrupted almost everything. The world came crumpling to its knees. For Nigeria, it was much more than that. Unfortunately, the last few days have been as horrible for us Nigerians.

Abdulhakim, my little nephew of about five years old, your uncle writes this letter to you in the most extraordinary circumstances. But it has become imperative that I do, addressing you and so many other kids like you. Of course, I will be glad if your parents pay attention, while reading this to you, for it affects us all.

Seeing you run in our modest residence whenever your mum brings you to our home is one of the things I have always cherished. Yes, I like children regardless of whether I am related to them or not. By extension, I like people. This is a fact that I share with millions of Nigerians, even those that hate others, their hatred hardly extends directly to members of their immediate families. This is the unvarnished truth. Nevertheless, it indirectly extends to them in some cases. This, they do not seem to understand. Unluckily, they later on realise when it is late or even too late.

As I write this letter, I recall the last time you came, Abdulhakim, pacing up and down the house amidst the lemon grass, few sprouting palm trees, which are slowly growing to our taste. As I watched you, sauntered by the main entrance that could barely accommodate four adults of average size at a time, I saw you exude great innocence exemplified by people of your age. When I saw you with your siblings, cousins, and some of our neighbours’ kids that are all less than 12, I felt excited. However, that was soon replaced with despondence, knowing the reality on ground which you are oblivious of.

Children all over the world are shielded from the realities of life, especially under situations like this one. They rarely get to know the toil of life. They seldom hear of the ordeal that their parents have to go through to provide shelter for them, bring food to the table, educate them, and be there for them, as they make the strenuous life journey. All in the bid to nurture them to become responsible, healthy, and active members of the society.

These duties and other basic responsibilities of parents are increasingly becoming difficult to meet. With the coronavirus disease 2019, widespread insecurity, dwindling crude oil prices, governments at all levels seeming helpless in managing these extraordinary times have all combined to usher in an unmitigated hardship faced by the common man in Nigeria.

All over the world Covid_19 alone has disrupted practically everything. This has contributed in bringing us to where we are now. Although, for many Nigerians it was about the plethora of other challenges, addressing the crisis led to an even more intensified hardship. In spite of everything, Nigerians are each day increasingly asking of one thing and only one thing: security.

While we want all the best things in life, we first seek security for us to live, if we are to have any chance of having any other thing. The widespread insecurity: Boko haram terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, communal crisis, etc. These security challenges are spiraling beyond control. I had commended government on the handling of Boko Haram.

Even though, we couldn’t claim absolute victory, the efforts of the government had decimated the terrorists’ capacity to wreak havoc, returned many displaced persons to their homes, and rehabilitated many, with the Borno State government playing a significant role in that. With more daring attacks recently in Yobe and Borno, the alleged hoisting of Boko Haram’s flag in some villages of Shiroro Local government area in Niger State, we seem to be drifting towards prior to 2015 Boko Haram potency. Government must deal with them decisively to tackle this.

The level of the security challenges has reached a height that the active vocabulary of Nigerians that are younger than I am may highly likely contain a lot of words like, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and internet fraud, which those of us older than they are and those much older than we are hardly had them even in our passive vocabulary. Growing up in Nigeria before, some of these words even our leaders beheld them on the pages of books, especially in dictionaries. At worst, they were in practice, but never near this level.

Today, not only have the elders seen, being affected directly, or indirectly by this, they have hopelessly seen their children, wards, students, and mentees badly affected by this. This unnerving epoch is severely painful and repugnant.

No grandfather, grandmother, dad, mum, uncle, mentor, boss, will like to see anyone, in their custody undergo the tough situation the average Nigerian child faces. If things continue this way, we can easily assert that the future of these kids hang by a thread, indeed, that of the entire country.

Yet to a large percentage of Nigerians, everything no matter how critical is all about politics. Political bickering, ceaseless ethnocentric squabbles, which have little, or no essence to the country take center stage. A substantial percentage of Nigerians wallow in inanities when all is at stake. This is the awful case we are witnessing today.

I love this country with all my heart. Nevertheless, I won’t want to see you grow up Abdulhakim to find Nigeria where it is now. I hope things change for the better. But I know it is not about wishful thinking. It encompasses a lot. This must be combined efforts by all Nigerians. I hope we all grasp this. Nigerians must not fail Nigeria or rather Nigerians must stop failing Nigeria whether as leaders or followers. Yes, as followers by failing to call a spade a spade or failing to help the country to overcome these numerous challenges. Some Nigerians have been doing that.

However, it is the time to actualize the dreams of our founding fathers’ now by rallying behind our security personnel and by extension our country to defeat terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cyber crimes, and all forms of criminalities in whatever guise for this country to prosper.

May Nigeria succeed.

Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Turaki B, Jalingo, Taraba State.

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