Many Nigerians, right from their early years have great dreams about Nigeria. I, not being an exclusion, have one too. However, dreams are supposed to be a visualization of reality to-be, that is, what is yet to happen or will happen in the future, but my Nigerian Dream seems to have happened decades ago. It is a reality that has happened even before my birth, realities that I heard about in stories that are now becoming legends. Legends of what Nigeria used to be are what form the basis of the Nigeria of my dreams.
Permit me to serve you some slices of reality from the words of some predecessors that I have conversed with. These surely will give you a tantalizing taste of the Nigeria of my dreams.
“Your generation is not as enjoyable as our generation, where children of a low-levelled civil servant take their daily meal with tin milk and egg afforded by the honestly earned salary of their parent”
“You students of nowadays do not enjoy what we enjoyed during our time. During our time, we enjoyed enough bursaries as students of universities, free daily meal tickets and assured employment on graduation”
“You dare not compare our time with yours! Our time was attributed with great yield both in agriculture, business and manpower. Farmers were kings, businessmen were president of associations and youths do not need empowerment because they have learnt to use their muscle to push things stronger than buttons and keys”
“In our time, brave men were heroes and heroes who are brave men were our role models, they are unlike your stars”
I am quite sure you would have heard, if not from your parents, it would be from your lecturer or someone like my uncle who won’t miss the “Daily Times” for anything even though what he reads is Guardian or Punch.
It’s quite ironic that my dream of the future of Nigeria is the recreation of what it used to be. Isn’t that retrogression? I know, and I know you will agree with me and buy into the Nigeria of my dreams at the end of my essay.
The Nigerian educational sphere has just added another item to the list of epidemics plaguing it. The students and faculty alike suffer from these terminal diseases, from the dearth of scholarship in both student and lecturer to the award of unmerited awards to people who can claim it; from the denial of salaries and due allowance of staff by the government to the intimidation and harassment of students by lecturers; from the unavailability of employment to graduates to denial of promotions to worthy staff and denial of grants for academic research; threats of insecurity by bandits, insurgents and other insurbordinating elements have just been added to the list.
This wasn’t how it was in the days of my predecessors, not that I was there to witness it but I could picture it in my mind from this statement of a predecessor: “During our time, we enjoyed enough bursaries as students of universities, free daily meal tickets and assured employment on graduation”. This is the Nigeria of my dream! Nigeria where there is a peaceful and secured environment for people, encouraging educational system and setting for students and faculty to grow in knowledge and capacity, and enabling structures for graduates to launch into a career or try new business and startup ideas. A Nigeria where there is opportunity and space for possibilities. This is the Nigeria of my dreams.
A US Dollar is 500 times more than Naira, which means if a Nigerian should earn and save #1 daily he won’t be able to save a dollar even in a leap year. De Rica of Rice is #400, Beans, its counterpart goes for about #50 more, one egg goes for close to #70, tin milk is about #250. The sum of these and other requirements for preparing an economic meal for an average Nigerian family will cost about #2000, which is approximately $5. It doesn’t sound much but how many average Nigerian citizens can afford that? With the national minimum wage set at #30,000, how many honest civil servants will afford that with their earnings? It is mathematically impossible! Even if it is a one square meal per day for the family, #2,000 × 30 days equals #60,000.
How will the need to get more resources not make people fall for the temptations of corruption? The hunger for food and other necessities of life has made people venture into robbery; armed robbery, pen robbery and even internet robbery as the case may be.
The unemployment rate even before the pandemic was high, now after the crackdown economic effect of the pandemic, it skyrocketed, inflation rate still floats very high up, cost of food items and domestic products refused to come down. Insecurity due to insurgents and ethnoreligious crises keep threatening the life of the people on their way to earn daily bread. This is in stark contrast with what Nigeria used to be, with what I dream for my Nigeria. I dream of a Nigeria “where children of a low-levelled civil servant take their daily meal with tin milk and egg afforded by the honestly earned money of their parent”
Imagine how magnificent the view of the Kano Groundnut Pyramids would be if you were standing before it. The Cocoa House in Ibadan is still one of the tallest buildings in Nigeria many years after it enjoyed the fame of the tallest building in Nigeria and West Africa. You can only appreciate the view but to imagine the feeling of achievement and greatness those hardworking farmers and traders felt by seeing the result of their work is quite impossible. The feeling you get from stacking thousands of bags of groundnuts to make an edifice pyramid, the size of a habitable building, from having to bend backwards to see the end of what your work contributed to is nothing less than what Jovinian, The Proud King felt.
I dream of the day when Nigeria can go back to days of seeing practical growth and impact of their work, the days were shoddy deals of youth empowerment will not be another plot of politicians to syphon public wealth.
To cap all fantasies I have as an envisioned reality for the Nigeria of my dream, I will need to add that my imagination of bringing the past to become the future is already beautiful enough but retaining elements of the present to march into the future that I imagined would make my fantasy so fantastic to live in. Imagine having a Nigeria with so many resources for children of even low-levelled civil servants, they will not only have access to tin milk and egg as an addition to food, they will have good educational tools like tablets and computers with guaranteed access to the internet to explore the world of knowledge which is what they thirst and hunger for more than food. Of course, duly afforded by the honestly earned money of their parent. Students and faculty of higher institutions will have a more encouraging environment and system for learning where there is no intimidation by the lecturer or denial by the government.
Students will not only graduate with good grades under great lecturers but with more sound ideas to solve the problem of society by contributing to the waiting labour market. Agriculture and Business will not only be guaranteed yield and ROI but optimal harvest and returns for the minimal input through the addition of the present knowledge of technology, AI, automation and profound strategies. The Nigeria of my dream is more than beautiful it is fantastic and I know you agree with me.