There are two things you need to note: first, the title above is not panic propaganda. Of course, it sounds like one, talks like one and smells like one, yet it’s no propaganda, it’s a fact. But even if you disagree with this premise, then let’s call it propaganda, but it is one that has become necessary and urgent at this point.
Second, I’m quite serious about the intent stated in the title: Nigeria is out to kill you. The country is going to hell in a hand basket. This is not a drill. And we have arrived at this point simply because you don’t care. If you understand this statement, then you need not read any further.
Are you are still wondering how we got to this point? There are many articles with superb analysis of the current crisis. These have listed all the factors responsible: from an incompetent president to malevolent and influential sponsors of terrorist activities. But the singular—if remote—cause of Nigeria’s current situation is this: we stopped caring about Nigeria. At a point, we gave up on our government and country and became irrationally selfish.
Look, the struggle for food is real. Surviving in Nigeria today has boiled down to the ability to fill your stomach—literally and metaphorically—and the stomachs of your family members, I get that. I’m a part of that struggle. I earn my living as a lawyer and I try every day to live comfortably on my livelihood. Nigeria has no plan to feed you and you have to sort yourself out. I have no arguments against that in principle. Except this: you still have to care.
And here’s what happened to me last night: I had just read about the new bomb blast in Abuja—almost immediately after reading an email from a client in Asia. The client’s email was important—and as a professional, my response should be immediate and devoid of emotion. After all, money must be made. But yet, at that moment, I was possessed of a wild madness, for—within the larger scheme of things in Nigeria today—that email, the client and every other money-making channel is as self-sufficient as a bottle of water floating in a flood. I turned off my phone and went to bed, angry. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how much I earn individually when my safety to earn the money is no longer guaranteed.
And that’s the bad news: the Nigerian nightmare has changed. Nigeria has evolved from “not taking care of you” into “actively trying to kill you“. Human induced deaths are intensifying. And as far as a reasonable layman’s analysis can be relied on, things are going to get worse. Much worse.
The Igbos had a taste of this concept during the civil war. They understood the idea of a country being out to kill a portion of its citizens. Also, Nigerian society in general has also experienced this minutely in the deaths caused by bad roads, fake drugs, faulty constructions, poor health service and other substandard government services. Experiences that propelled us to, individually, search for alternatives from private sources or migrate to the care of foreign governments.
But these deaths at the hand of poor services are insignificant compared to what is coming for us now. Corruption kills slowly, but bombs and guns don’t waste time. Things have escalated now, and both the government and the opposition have nothing to say. Nigeria is going to kill us all—and this is not a metaphor.
Unless you start caring.
You have to understand that the Nigerian struggle is no longer about feeding your family. It is now about keeping your family from being killed. Write this on wall: the struggle has changed. Nigeria isn't just a corrupt country anymore; it is now a dangerous country. And if you don’t change your thinking and actions along with this fact, you are going to die—or someone close to you will.
And no, prayer isn't the answer now—if it ever was. If prayer is your thing, by all means, pray. You’re going to need that confidence builder. But don’t mistake the tranquilizer for the cure. Just as you install a car alarm and fasten the locks on your gate, you will also have to take some physical or mental action before you get killed by Nigeria.
And there’s more bad news: you can’t secure yourself by isolation. You can scramble to the top of your career all by yourself, you can fill your bank accounts by your own game plan, in fact—you don’t need any help to get up and about in life. In life. Everything you’re doing right now only makes sense because you expect to be alive in the next few minutes. But your safety is no longer a valid proposition.
And this is unfortunate because you can’t prevent yourself from being killed—all by yourself. This is why man invented society. Because isolation is dangerous. Countries exist, principally to guarantee safety. But now, your country is out to kill you.
Unless you start thinking seriously, and start caring deeply, about Nigeria’s fortunes now. Nigeria will kill you unless you start caring.
Look, you don’t have to love Nigeria. You don’t have to love this government or even love your fellow Nigerians. Love is a different issue entirely, and the gods know Nigeria—and probably your neighbour too—has done nothing to deserve your love. Love is a higher calling, it has to be earned. No, you need not love Nigeria. But you need to care about Nigeria. The same way you care about your education, the same way you care about your religion, the same way you care about your career, the way you care about your favourite sport or hobby. You have to reorient your priorities and place Nigeria at the top of your care list.
And if you still don’t understand this, then you are the problem with Nigeria. And you deserve to die by its hands. You are too involved in your private battles that you are no longer in touch with the big picture. You can no longer see the wood for the trees. You’re so caught up in your aspirations to become the main salary earner in your company that you forget there will be no company without a functional legal system. You bury your head in the sand of your goals and delight in your private accomplishments. Well, boardroom battles, market strategies, classroom troubles, bedroom issues—these will all vanish when the proverbial shit finally hits the proverbial fan. And the said shit has piled up.
You have to start caring now
And no, caring isn't a tweet or two; caring isn't a Facebook like or simply sharing this article; caring isn't your anxious expression of concern while discussing at work; caring isn't just the 15 minute prayer topic in church.
Caring is your conscious and active engagement of the realities of your society and government through the exertion of your physical, mental and material resources.
See, society won’t transform itself magically. There is no “society” out there, waiting to do as you say. Society is the collective identity of individuals. And if the individuals don’t care, then society doesn’t care. And that society will be destroyed. If you cannot stop what you’re doing today—if you cannot stop it for a second and take some time to reflect on how your actions will restore some sanity to Nigeria—then you are the problem with Nigeria.
But you don’t care. And so Nigeria is going to kill you.
And so, by all means continue to grow your cassava and your maize, pass your exams, do your job, earn your daily bread, pastor your churches, lead your prayers, teach your classes, fill out all those forms, strike that new deal, reply all your emails, and chase up those clients.
But unless you already have an exit plan for when things go to hell, then you might as well go to an undertaker and book your coffin today.
Because: everything in Nigeria is going to kill you.
by Ayo Sogunro
Ayo Sohunro is the author of The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales. A lawyer by profession, he also indulges in socio-legal philosophy on this blog. Interact with him on Twitter via @ayosogunro.