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‘Owners’ Of Nigeria, Let My People Breathe -By Fola Ojo

But I rope my hope around millions of others, all around the world, that the best days for Nigeria are not too far out. We continue to dream that tomorrow will be greater than today and yesterday. As we celebrate this particular year, I sense that something unusual is about to happen to, and for, Nigeria.

Hurray! Tomorrow, Nigeria will be 62! This season in 1960, the British stranglehold of slavery was dismantled. Today all around the nation is an upbeat celebration replete with hope. The afflictions besieging the nation remain innumerable. What torments Nigerians today are the backlashes of the cruel collusion between the British and Nigerians they handpicked pre-independence as “owners” of Nigeria who will not let my people breathe. Every year, Nigeria grows older but does not grow up. We are united but unity is far from many hearts. We face immense struggles in all shapes and on all fronts. Many of the elements that make up this country are still groping through pages of history books to find the justification for why Lord Lugard amalgamated a people who can’t see eye-to-eye. The last century of the union has been tumultuous. The marriage doesn’t seem to make sense any longer to very many. The truth, however, is that behind our many travails are the actions and inactions of “owners” of Nigeria who will not let my people breathe.

In their diurnal gatherings, these “owners” of Nigeria determine who holds which specific gavel of authority and controls how much. In their nocturnal get-togethers, they position men and women of evil like-minds. They recycle their ilk in the purlieu of power and hold the country by the jugular. As a result of the depravity, retrogression and backwardness become the portion of the populace. Who truly are these people who won’t let Nigeria and Nigerians breathe? Whom are these fellas with their knees on our neck as the prosperous and endowed nation struggles to suck in breath of life? They are living and breathing human walking demons. They unleash miseries immeasurable on the people. This treatise is not about naming names; some names readily creep to mind. We know many of them while their agents operate from forlorn dark spaces destroying the beauty of our space, ruining our economy, impoverishing the people and deploying religion and ethnicity to create a lavish lacuna that helps them perpetrate their penchants for cornering our commonwealth. No political party gets power except the ‘owners’ of Nigeria give a nod. No man becomes president except they assent a yes approval. These ‘owners’ bring only torment and torture on the people and aggrandisement for themselves. They are behind Nigeria’s freefall into Gehenna.

Walk down with me to where Nigeria once was and strut along with me to where we are today as we celebrate 62 years of freedom that exists only on paper. In the 1980s, the US dollar sold for a mere 0.78k. Today, $1 hovers around N700. Once upon a time, Nigeria was a net exporter of refined petroleum products. As of today, imports currently account for over 80% of Nigeria’s refined product supply, creating a huge potential for local refining. Peugeot cars were once put together in Kaduna, Volkswagen cars in Lagos, Leyland in Ibadan, and ANAMCO in Enugu. Together, these giant structures flooded the market with locally assembled cars, buses and trucks. What happened to us? Nigeria Airways was about the biggest in Africa at that time as Nigerians cruised around the world in the big bird. Greed and gluttony fashioned and permitted by ‘owners’ of Nigeria grounded the big bird and we are not sure if it will ever fly.

There is nothing Nigerians cannot do only if the ‘owners’ of Nigeria let them. We heard that our local automobile assembly, Innoson Motors, supplied 80% of the jeeps that the Nigerian Army’s been using over the last 10 years. How long will Innoson stay afloat without the interruptive brigandage of the ‘owners’ of Nigeria? The Innoson testament affirms the fact that if only ‘owners’ of Nigeria will let Nigerians breathe, there’s nothing Nigerians cannot do for Nigeria. I saw the picture of the official car of the Anambra State Governor, Charles Soludo. It was not made in America, not put together in Japan and not made anywhere in Europe. But it was made by Innoson Motors in Anambra State, Nigeria. There is nothing Nigerians cannot do for Nigeria if the system lets them breathe!

Nigerians leave Nigeria in droves because of the very bitter environment created by the waggery and knavery of ‘owners’ of Nigeria in every area of Nigerian life. In almost all nations of the world, you will find Nigerians who are putting their brains to work for other nations. Not too long ago, a Houston hospital witnessed a handful of Nigerian doctors successfully separating 10-month-old conjoined twins in a 26-hour surgery that made waves in America and the medical world. The 12-man medical team comprised Professor Oluyinka Olutoye, his anesthesiologist wife, Dr Toyin, and one Dr Mrs Oluyemisi Adeyemi-Fowode, a paediatric gynaecology fellow in the hospital. A Nigerian engineer, Jude Igwemezie, who lives in Canada was commissioned by the Iraqi government to design and construct a $500m Iraqi rail system. The project includes the construction of what is described as a viable rail transportation network for the city of Najaf. Men who build roads, tunnels and bridges for other nations have been chased away from their homeland by the ‘owners’ of Nigeria. Jelani Aliyu from Sokoto State is the talented mind behind the design of the Chevrolet Volt automobile, one of the most admired American specifications globally. Aliyu is a Senior Creative Designer with General Motors in Detroit. This Nigerian just made history.

Upon the doggedly dependable and broad shoulders of Nigerians rest the present and future of many nations. This is the story of Nigeria. Young and old are doing great exploits in their careers and scattered all over major cities all over the world. Presidents of foreign nations count on them; so do governors of states. Multi-billion-dollar corporations desire them and small upcoming businesses do not ignore them. These men and women come from all ethnic backgrounds and their hearts pant for Nigeria; a nation blessed with men and endowed with means. These are the brains that the misbehaviours of ‘owners’ of Nigeria have chased out of the nation. Nigerians will never breathe easy until these demons breathe their last. For now, Nigerians are stuck until they unstuck themselves. If Nigerians don’t make aggressive demands for freedom from the hands of their oppressors and tormentors, ‘owners’ of Nigeria will continue to own Nigeria and enslave freeborn Nigerians.

But I rope my hope around millions of others, all around the world, that the best days for Nigeria are not too far out. We continue to dream that tomorrow will be greater than today and yesterday. As we celebrate this particular year, I sense that something unusual is about to happen to, and for, Nigeria. I sense a quiet revolution of sorts at the polling booth. I sense a putting to sleep of those ‘owners’ of Nigeria who have killed Nigeria softly. I echo the voices of many who hope that this new year begins the end of misery and mess in Nigeria. I believe that a new season is around the corner when a new Nigeria will be ushered in. The people are more than the ‘owners’ of Nigeria. Nigerians are more powerful than these phantom powers who see Nigeria as a plantation of slaves. The voice of the people will be heard whether the ‘owners’ of Nigeria like it or not. The Nigerian environment will no longer condone the status quo of lockjaw’s deplorable mess. I sense a change. I sense a sweet aroma. By this time next year, I sense a new and refreshing Nigeria. So, help us God.

Twitter: @FolaOjoTweet

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