President Muhammadu Buhari
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Nigeria at 59: Waiting for Godot

Nigeria is in the throes of various economic, security and social challenges. However, the urgency to address poverty, unemployment and other pressing social and political issues is lacking. What is concerning is how Nigerian leaders are quoting the Bible, asking their compatriots to persevere like the children of Israel till they reach the “land flowing with milk and honey”.

On the 30th of September, 2019, Nigeria’s Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the 59th independence day interdenominational church service said, “The Almighty God is the builder of nations and the Bible tells us that he promised the children of Israel that he would take them from bondage, suffering, and slavery into the Promised Land, a land flowing of milk and honey”. Nigerians have been awaiting change, but on their 59th independence day, they instead got a sermon urging them to persevere as the road ahead was said to be rough.

The mischievous use of religion to pacify Nigerians allows the leading elite to remain unaccountable to the citizens. The citizens rather focus on religion, basing the state of their living conditions on a higher power rather than on the political elite and leaders governing the country. Every solution is turned back to God. But during elections it is not God making the promises during the campaigns.

Samuel Beckett, in his play Waiting for Godot, shows two characters, Vladimir and Estragon waiting for the arrival of someone named Godot. But Godot never arrives. Instead the two characters end up discussing other issues. For a long time, Nigerians have been waiting for change. It was the sole reason why in 2015, with the hope of recovering their country from looters and setting it on a straight path, that they accepted the gospel according to the country’s ruling party, The All Progressives Congress (APC), change!

Read: In Nigeria, dreadlocks are entangled with beliefs about danger

Change is another name for Godot in Nigeria. Nigerians have waited for it but it hasn’t come. Hospitals have remained in dilapidated state and doctors are leaving the country in search of better wages and working conditions. Schools are operating at the barest minimum. Education is no longer the key. Roads have become dangerous snaking bellies awaiting the next prey. And nonchalance has eaten deep into the Nigerian political system. It is therefore not surprising that Nigerians, having waited so much for change, they have resorted to other activities, Big Borther Naija, as a way of escape.

The series of tweets by Prof. Osinbajo, a Christian exhortation in a religiously divided country, makes one wonder where the responsibility of Nigeria’s leaders lays if the building of a nation has been delegated to God. Since 1960, Nigerians have been waiting for ‘milk and honey,’ to flow into the land, instead, ‘milk and honey’ has flowed into the open mouths of the Nigerian political class.

A look at the national budget of the country easily shows that the Nigerian government is struggling to bring meaningful change to the people. The budget allocation for the health and education sectors never goes beyond the 3% and 5% benchmark respectively. More money is spent on acquiring new cars for lawmakers who also take more ridiculous amounts as allowances.

Read: Nigeria: A country that builds more churches than hospitals

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari greeted Nigerians by saying, “Dear Compatriots, 1st October each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country”. The average Nigerian would however testify that no such blessings have been received by them. The Nigerian government is not operating on democratic ideals. Freedom of speech has been reigned. Court orders are not obeyed by the Federal Government and more people are slipping into poverty.

Nigerian lawmakers, currently among the highest paid in the world and currently receiving a hardship allowance of $3, 400, have not brought any sort of change to their constituents either. For many Nigerians, Chinua Achebe’s words in his book The Trouble with Nigeria ring true; “The trouble of Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”.

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