The Pangs of National Development (A Dialogue)

There’s light on our streets and in our homes. The roads are good and secure. Unemployment rate has gone down and our graduates are roaming the streets no more. There’s food, and there’s water. And, best of all, there’s justice for all!

In Nigeria, yes, all these in Nigeria.

Thomas threw a sarcastic laughter at me. “You’re a dreamer, Revival,” he said dismissively.

“Oh, I’m a believer, that’s true, but my predictions are not so farfetched.”

“I like how you carry yourself in that bubble of yours,” he said in a mocking tone. “You shield yourself from reality, and you seem not see what our leaders are about.”

Thomas and I were the only two teachers left in the staffroom. But, it was now past 5 P.M, so we both got ready to leave too. We said our goodbyes to the guard on duty, and walked to Thomas’ lodging.

Thomas lived very close to the school, and it was not unusual that I walk The length with him, before taking a public transport to my own residence.

We continued our conversation on the way.

“All the problem, as I see it, arise from this assumption that our salvation lies solely at the mercy of our leadership,” I said.

“Mmm mmm,” Thomas seemed to ponder my words for a while. “But without good leadership, we’re going nowhere.”

“You’re right. I still maintain my initial stand though. The poor leadership is not so much a problem if we, the people, can realise all that’s expected of us.”

Thomas sighed. “What do you mean?”

“The question is, are the people ready to pay the price for national development? Will they bear the pain of the process?”

“What are you talking about? What pain do you want them to bear again? Haven’t they borne enough pain?”

As he spoke these words, we came upon an old woman begging for alms by the road side. She was obviously oppressed and burdened by trying times. There was nothing remarkable about her situation, for we’ve stumbled upon her several times before. Nevertheless, the sight of her at that moment added accent to Thomas’s point.

“There’s no denying the suffering,” I quickly put in, though careful not to sound insensitive. “I don’t deny it. What I’m saying is that, the better Nigeria which we all crave will be so radically different, and will require us to make certain sacrifices.”

“You like doing this,” Thomas replied. “You always find a way to take the responsibility and blame away from the government, and somehow put it all on the innocent civilians.”

“That is not so,” I objected sharply. “I’m all for better leadership. All I’m saying is that a better Nigeria goes beyond good leadership, and if we, the citizens, are not ready to let go of certain privileges, we’ll be the drawback of ourselves.”

“Here yourself talk. You speechify about privileges as though the lower class enjoys any.”

“Maybe privileges is the wrong word, but there are certain transgressions that we get away with, which won’t be allowed in saner climes.”

“Address that to the ruling class!”

“The ruling class will never cease to hear it, but I don’t think the common people hear it enough. It should go both ways. An unjust system will provide just enough loopholes to allow for misconduct and indiscipline and corruption at every stratum.”

“Come on, Revival, you can’t compare the level of corruption—”

“Why not?” I rebuffed. “Corruption is corruption. It will be imprudent of us to call for change at the top, while the bottom remains a dreg.”

“Let the leaders lead by example.”

“And you think the people will be ready for the change that will come with that?”

“Why not? It’s all we’re asking for. Let them be accountable and transparent in their affairs.”

“And the people will in turn be transparent and accountable, right?”

“Yea,” Thomas replied, visibly irritated by my questions. “What have we got to be accountable for anyway?”

“A lot, my friend, a lot.”

Thomas laughed and shook his head. We finally arrived an intersection, where bikes and tricycles waited for passengers. At the intersection, we turned into an untarred street, and went thirty paces till we arrived Thomas’s house.

“Goodbye bro,” I said as we got to the gate, “till tomorrow.”

“I have some rice left from the morning. Come on, let’s eat.”

Thomas bought two bottles of chilled tropical juice from a woman just by his gate, and with that, we went in and ate. We talked no more of Nigeria that day. But, we were sure to talk some more, some other day.

Afterword…

I am a big believer in the oneness and betterment of Nigeria. I am hopeful that in the not too distant future, we’ll get the Nigeria of our dreams.

However, my conviction is thoroughly shaken, not only by the adverse reality, but also by the pessimism of my fellow youths.

So, more often than not, I try to examine my perspective, and determine if I’m only holding on to a pipe dream.

In this dialogue, I attempt to embody my reservations against my conviction. I don’t go easy on myself, for even I know that the reality actually supports my doubts. But does it negate my hopefulness?

My enduring remark is that we will get it right at the polls one day. Sooner or later, we’ll get leaders that are truly committed to building a better Nigeria. Nevertheless, I lay emphasis on the fact that national development is tasking, not only for the government, but also for the citizens.

Let the light shine in our hearts, even as we expect power in our homes and on our streets. Let not our ways be crooked, even as we expect good roads. Let’s be devoted to doing good, even as we expect more jobs. All in all, let’s be fair in our dealings.

God bless Nigeria.

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