Life is what we make it
By Denrele Animasaun
“However long the night, the dawn will break.” – Hausa proverb
Sod’s law states that “if something can go wrong, it generally will. Last week, was my sod’s law moment and boy, the gremlins came out in force! Admittedly, I was horrified but, with a sharp intake of breath, I embraced the moment and I moved forward because, there is hope for a better tomorrow.
I am a Nigerian after all. I am made of sterner stuff. The lesson I learnt was, you can’t worry too much about yesterday so as to rob yourself of today. I often wonder, what makes the Nigerian succeed in the face of stiff hardship and obstacles. I deduced that, it has a lot to do with hope, faith, bloody-mindedness and determined resilience; a default characteristics found and shared by many Nigerians despite, the hardship and struggles that would have floored mere mortals. That is water off a duck’s back for the Nigerian.
They say, life is what you make it and if there was ever someone that was given lemons and could make sweet lemonade, it is the Nigerian. When push comes to shove, the Nigerian always looks to make the best of the worst situation. The Nigerian has a “never say die” attitude and a stoic outlook to life. I remembered many, many years ago when there was an embargo on foreign goods. This was during the time when the Nigerian would not be seen dead in Nigerian made goods; he valued foreign goods above locally made products. He would wear head to toe imported goods and the more foreign wear he had on, the more superior he felt. Now the Nigerian wears African prints with gusto and made it so fashionable and accessible that it had spurned many a local industries and it is consumed home and abroad. The Nigerian, will take a small opportunity and make it bigger and grander: Nollywood and Afrobeat is a fine example. It started small, selling CDs and now it is a big production worldwide and contributes to the nation’s economy. Such success happens when the Nigerian looks within and keeps plugging even when there is no support and barely any means, the self-belief and sheer doggedness, means he can achieve great feat with commitment and dedication. The spirit of the Nigerian has taken him to far flung areas and against all odds, he not only survives but thrives to become specialist in his chosen field. This Nigerian is not afraid of hard work and works towards his dream to succeed. The younger Nigerians are calling on the politicians to do their job and hold them accountable. The Emir of Kano suggested a reduction in representatives and senators’ salaries to create jobs for thousands of workers. They say, we are all in this together, so it’s about putting their money where their mouths are.
What I am saying here, is that every moment begins with a dream, an idea, a vision. Time to stop thinking like a victim, the Nigerian is much more than that. We are part of the indomitable spirit and we do not give up easily, we sure are not going to give up now. We are at the cross roads and what binds us is much more than what divides us. This period is the storm before the calm. As long as we keep moving together, showing tolerance, empathy and compassion in the right direction, we will make our own future.
“Anybody could have done it, but nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was everybody’s job. Everybody that anybody could have done it, but nobody realised that everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that everybody blamed somebody when nobody did what anybody could have done it!”
Some of us hold dear to our friendships that shaped our childhood and adulthood because regardless of what the divisive elements say or do, my friendship is not based on division but on a shared journey and love for one another. I remember days when Christmas and Eid meant we had twice the celebrations; we shared what we had. I am glad of our friendship over the years and I will not trade it in for hatemongers neither would any of my friends. Thank goodness for the foundation we had.
You know how we grew up in Lagos, not realising that Nigeria was made up of different tribes? The days when Emeka was your best area friend and Adiele and Eno were your closest school mates. The time you didn’t make up your mind whom to decide for between Ngozi(from Enugu) and Habiba( Northerner but from where exactly? ) as your permanent girlfriend.
The time you learnt to eat ‘eba Ibo’, ‘Ashike’ and Edikanikong and realised that other parts of the country had more varieties of vegetable soups than our two commonly known Yoruba versions of ‘Efo riro’ and ‘Efo Elegunsi’..Or those days you confirmed that Ofe Owerri passed better to rice than the stew you were accustomed to….”Tuwo Shikanfi” with bo’ogo – biscuit bone – nko?.The one Hajia only sold in the evenings?.. A rare delicacy.
Those days when you visited Malik and Yaro at home and you never felt like a stranger nor uninvited; you only asked questions to know reason(s) tens of people lived in their house and beggars retired there in the evenings?
You remember your Malam Isa the gateman who would sell things to you on credit(because he trusted you’ll pay…eventually!) and he always appreciated the cooked food he occasionally gets from your parents and you.
You remember when Udemba’s flat passed as your apartment too?..A flat owned by young guys and the girls didn’t know who actually paid the rent? My house, is your house.
The days it was usual to go to the ‘village’ (Amakohia Ubi; Mgbidi; Enugu etc)with your friends when their grandpa died or the sister was getting married?
The politicians came…and caused deep-rooted division.. unprecedented hatred and demarcated boundaries(non-physical).. All to their selfish advantages.
And we? We fell for it…and still falling-Ayo Omigbule Ibori returned to a hero’s welcome and fanfare. He was in church for thanksgiving and he was at pains to let those that would listen, that he,Ibori was wrongfully accused and tainted. For those who cared to listen to Ibori’s performance, no one can convince them that Ibori was convicted for a crime that he committed and no amount, of gas lighting, alternative facts from him or his party of well-wishers will ever change his past.
This Teflon Don is at it again but the long arm of the law finally got him and he was banged to right for corruption and money laundering on April 17, 2012, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison while his houses, luxury cars and other property items were confiscated. This man is not innocent and for the people who attended his thanksgiving, they are part of the problem and are perpetuating the message that, it is all right to steal as long as you do well by your kin. There is a misplaced sense of morality .The fact that this man, stole so much is not enough for them to admit he was a criminal but their warped reason is that; he is one of their own and besides, they reason, he actually improved their area, they reckoned that absorbs him of any wrongdoing. He is, after all, the son of the soil and how dare an outsider cast aspirations. He was convicted, but that is merely a slight detail. This man shows no remorse: “They want me to go to the corner where I won’t be seen. Today, I have decided to speak for myself. I am not a thief; I cannot be a thief. Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God. For those who know me, you know that my life is a testimony itself. I have said it over and again that my life is fashioned by God, directed by God, sealed, acknowledged and blessed by God. I believe that since the day I was born. “Like the Archbishop said, when this whole commotion started, what was most painful to me was the pain and suffering that my people were going through” This man knows how to milk the sympathy and tribal emotion. A huge fact check here; Ibori is not innocent and he is as a pure as the driven slush.
Ibori: “It has nothing to do with me as a person because, for some reasons, like I said to you, I drew my strength from God. So, somehow, I knew that God would stand by me. I knew that one-day, this day would come. I am indeed very pleased that I can now stand before you and look at your faces, the faces that I have missed, and those of you who have indeed suffered the pains of my absence. It has nothing to do with me”
This man lacks sincerity and remorse. The return of the prodigal son serves no purpose other than send a wrong message that crime pays. This man is not taking full responsibility for his crime and until the government makes an example of the likes of Ibori, others like him will continue to milk the country dry knowing full well that even if they are found guilty and convicted, they can come back a hero and back to their old ways. There must be a strict deterrent and clear message from the government, that if you the crime then you must do the time.
For the likes of Ibori, Stella Oduah, Andrew Yakubu, Madueke et al, they should face justice and they should not spare the kid gloves,if you steal ,you have to face the music. Remember; a thief is a thief is a thief. Ibori is a former convict, he is no Robin Hood and there no altruism in his crime, he lined his pockets, paved way for future grand theft in government positions. This man is no hero, he has a pathology; he has no conscience or empathy for anyone. If given half the chance, he will reoffend again and again.
“As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”- Jean Jacques Rosseau.