No Apologies For My Views Or Opinions!
Rejoinder to Mr. Ihas Idriess
My Dear Brother Fellow Nigerian Ihas Idriess,
My ONLY motivation for writing about Nigerian issues is Nigeria, and my ONLY tribe is Nigeria and for me therefore, everything is Nigeria, Nigeria, Nigeria and Nigeria!
The salvation of Nigeria, the development of Nigeria, the unity of Nigeria, and the progress of Nigeria are my only concerns, Nigeria is my only tribe and Nigeria is my only motive, for me, a Tribe in Nigeria, is like a stream, whereas, a Nation is like an Ocean, I prefer to swim in the Ocean! I recommend that you and other Nigeria cultivate the habit of preferring swims in the Ocean of Nigeria’s national interests, there is incredibly more room and wider space to swim in the Ocean! Nigerians like big fishes should swim in the national Ocean of our collective interests, instead of wallowing in the mud, instead of swimming in the shallow ravines and dire straits or gutters of ethnic, tribal, religious or such other parochialisms!
I have always strenuously stressed that my commentaries are not about my tribe, religion, ethnicity, state or region and I have therefore intentionally omitted stating my tribe, or ethnicity, state or region, just so, it does not distract my readers from the points that I struggle to make, points that need be made about present day Nigeria and the promised land and glory land Nigeria, that I envision for all of us, though tongue and tribe may differ! Though we may hold different things sacred and worship different Holies!
Mr. Ihas Idriess, I regret that my modest writing efforts has not impressed you or provided you with “guidance and wisdom”, but it is good, to know that you at least, recognize that I have a right to my opinions, especially regarding issues concerning my country, our country! I am tempted to add Ayyyaa sanu fa! Ko? yaukuri ne?
I did not set out to offend or annoy Mr. Idriess or for that matter, anyone who reads my articles, No writer set out to annoy or offend, I write to contribute my analysis and views to the many issues of our time, with the hope that I bring a new idea, a new way of examining these issues, there are many ways that issues can be examined, and bringing a diverse opinion to visit Nigerian issues is good for Nigeria, it broadens our collective horizons and perspectives in efforts at resolving our national issues, Nigeria is a very diverse country, hence, it should be expected and accepted that views and opinions are of necessity diverse! Ba haka ba? Mutumi Mr. Idriess?
I regret that my writings and commentaries disappoint you, intentions are pure and honest! I write from the gut and from the deepness of my heart, I write from the very strong convictions that I have, regarding Nigerian issues, reflecting of course, my opinions and perspectives on Nigeria’s public and current affairs; I am not perfect, no one is, even to the trivial issue of grammar, I sometimes re-read my articles after their publication and I find grammatical errors or misplaced words (and instead of an) or (just instead of justice), you see, in this avocation of writing, in the haste to complete an article or respond to a burning issue, errors happen, mistakes do occur! And as to my opinions on national issues? And my very strong convictions about Nigeria? My apparent adamant and strident tones? I am not perfect in this area either, but I am not bought! You can disagree with everything I have examined and written about, (from my personal perception of course!) But please do not ascribe ancillaries and extraneousness to my strong convictions and commentaries about Nigerian issues, please?
Be assured that I am neither “fanatical, or cut off from the realities” in Nigeria, nor do I harbor “unfounded” beliefs; This brother Nigerian here, follows no one “blindly” as you alleged! No, it is just my analysis or examination and reading of the facts, my interpretation from my perspectives! That is all there is!
I must beg to disagree with you on some of the issues that you raised in your article regarding my opinions
Writing from the comfort of my foreign abode? I did not gladly leave Nigeria when I left, when the “Andrews were checking out” of Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo was not yet the president of Nigeria then; No reasonable national/person is happy to be compelled to leave his country to live overseas because of dire circumstances at her home country! Every-minute here in the USA? I wish that I were in your hometown or mine! Mr. Idriess, here is some newsflash! East or West? Home is Home, There is no place like home for me!!! I am certain that this is not your first time with this concept?
I came to the US in a Nigeria Airways plane, when I embarked on my outward journey to the USA? I realized the finality of coming to live abroad permanently? I wept like a child! That was almost twenty years ago, Mr. Obasanjo was not the president then!
The choice of living overseas was foisted on many Nigerians and myself before the Obasanjo/Atiku government, which means, unemployment, the failings of NEPA, NIPOST, NITEL etc as you accurately portrayed in your article, the failure of all the infrastructures, roads, schools, hospital, ASUU frequent strikes and all the associated evils and all the failings of systems in Nigeria that we all write about and dwell on, are age-old issues, that, EXISTED for several decades before your brothers Obasanjo/Atiku took over the reigns of government as they INHERITED avalanche and gargantuan challenges! We all want Nigeria to recover and revived from all these mess!
Hence in the past, I wrote in “Unfairness Of Blaming Obasanjo And Atiku For All Of Nigeria's Challenges” “We must not throw the baby and the bath water away because we are impatient, because we are overdue for our journey, because we are late in our national journey and national quests, We must be patient with those we have entrusted with national reconstruction, national rebirth, national revival and Nigeria's Renaissance! Nigeria arrived at the current political, economic and social state of affairs honestly; All rational and intelligent Nigerians saw it all coming, the abandonment, the neglect and the consequent decay of infrastructures did not occur overnight”
The only analogy that I can think of presently, to exemplify this point regarding the Obasanjo/Atiku predicament is this, it is as if someone dumped garbage and rubbish on the market square in your hometown, repeatedly for 25 years, you, a public spirited, generous and kind person, with a good heart, volunteers to clean up the mess thus created by someone else, the police and everybody now arrives, the traders and all, arrive to find you cleaning, you may be slow or be detracted from the cleaning efforts, but is it, fair for the traders, onlookers and everyone to blame you for the huge mess that got onto the market square? It was someone else, who created the mess, no fault of yours! Is this fair and reasonable on their parts to now blame you? Blaming you because you volunteered to clean the public market square, because you undertook and promised to do an excellent cleaning job, to turn the market square into a pristine environment? Is it fair for all and sundry to suddenly or soon forget the original source of the dirt? And now be asking for your head, the heads of your children etc? Or we do not have to be fair to politicians?
How can they forget that you did not create the garbage/rubbish/filth in the first place?!!!!
Obasanjo/Atiku are like you, they promised to clean up the place, they need time, money, other resources, including support, encouragement etc etc To do the job! Not distractions and bad belle from every corner as we have witnessed! This is my Haka ne!
But can reasonable persons expect 25 years of abandonment, decadence and neglect to be changed in 4 years, 4 years imbued with intrigues of impeachment, self-aggrandizement and selfishness of the National Assembly? OK, let us say the entire political class?
It does not appear to matter, whomever the president was, during the past four years, it was simply impossible to transform Nigeria overnight, only children and some dishonest or disingenuous Nigeria can think so and expect so and continue to say so!
Those of us overseas have no idea or clues? As to what is going on in Nigeria? You are not correct in your assumptions! Your conclusions are neither here nor there! It could not be farther from the truth! My “comfortable abode overseas” as you described it, actually enables me and many other Nigerian here to have easy access to all sorts of information, I read what you read! I have access to the same Internet Gamji.com and other Nigeria related Internet sites and much, much more!
The only Nigerians overseas who ignore developments and issues in Nigeria, are those in complete denial! For me, even if I live and die here (God Forbid!) I will always concern myself with Nigerian issues, Nigerian affairs and progress, I do not have a choice! Even if I become the Governor of New York State! I will remind every New Yorker that, I was born, assembled and made as a complete product in NIGERIA!!!!
Please know it therefore, that a great deal of Nigerians overseas, take enormous interests in what is going on in Nigeria, hence you read their reactions on a million websites on the Internet that are very vibrant, including Gamji! We here are concerned with Nigerians issues and affairs, economic, political, cultural etc! Are you kidding?
You should assume that I have the same information that you have, or that I know what you know, My example? Let us say that you live in Lagos? And I live in Maiduguri? We both however, rely on the Internet, the New Nigerians Newspapers, The Guardian Newspapers for the news of what is happening in Abuja, Owerri, Kaduna or Zungeru? How can you or I, have any unique or special insight into what is going on in the various places where we are not resident? Or what is considered newsworthy?
Since you Mr. Idriess, admit being an ardent surfer and an avid reader of news and current affairs, you must admit also, that you and I, rely on the same medium, the same Gamji.com for our news, the same Lagosforum.com, the same Arewa-online.com the same Amanaonline.com! The same Nigerian related Internet sites and Newspapers!
I was the first to congratulate Gamji.comduring the heat of the general elections in Nigeria, this was because, unlike every other Nigerian media, Gamji.com posted elections results in real time! Gamji.com was fast and up-to-date! After the elections? Gamji.com was eventually or subsequently congratulated by all, including a big feature in The Guardian Newspapers coveted opinion page!
I am sure that some people in your hometown and mine, do not have access to the newspapers or the Internet, mostly because, they cannot afford them, and there are yet, some others with means, who even, if they can afford these things, but they however, lack the interests in news or daily political developments; There are Americans and Nigerians here in the USA in these categories, the Internet, Newspapers, CNN, BBC or VOA means nothing to them! They are people just only interested in comedy, or some other entertainment on television, in place of hard news! Due to religion (Jehovah Witnesses for example) or upbringing or tastes or for whatever reasons!
My point here is? I follow the news and development at home very closely, by the minute! I read several Nigerian Newspapers everyday, I visit several Nigeria related Internet websites everyday, I also of course read American Newspapers and watch CNN etc, Why Mr. Idriess? Balanced news! It is better than a heavy reliance on new from the embedded journalists of the foreign press! BBC VOA CNN! Hankali fa! By preference, some men rather watch television for three hours or more! Or play draft or Ludo? Or go beer drinking? Or gossiping? All these are legal, by the way! But I chose to read and write after work.
My preference, everyone has their own! I read and write fast, I balance the information from Nigeria by comparing presentations of same stories by Gamji.com, then the Triumph of Kano that has published some of my articles recently, thank you Triumph! The Guardian rendition of same news item or story, then with ThisDay, then with Vanguard, (The Weekly Trust and Daily Trust that has also been generous enough to publish my articles thank you Trust Newspapers!) Then compare it with the Daily Champion etc I am sure you get the point?
So, I can pretty much, tell the editorial slant of each of the above media houses!
I have also compared Gamji.com your favorite and mine! With my other favorites Lagosforum.com Arewa-online.com Nigex.com Amanaonline.com etc for an in depth and distilled view of what is happening in Nigeria, I do not recommend or suggest that you or anyone need to do this, these are some of my simple pleasures, other people may have more sophisticate tastes, I do not begrudge them!
Your argument and conclusions that Nigerians overseas, including myself are unaware of the harsh realities on the ground in Nigeria come from an absurd premise, hence a necessarily ridiculous conclusion! Nigerians overseas follow the news and talk to families in Nigeria; Additionally, I am sure that you know that there are men in Nigeria and everywhere in the world who are gynecologists? Seasoned and good gynecologist do not have to be women or they do not have to have ovaries or wombs or such other biological capacities to be pregnant, in order to become seasoned gynecologist to take care of pregnancies and childbirth, an excellent gynecologist is one who is! He does not have to be a woman!
Some Nigerians always allude to the International Community about everything in Nigeria, even though the international community remains just that, international, So, how come the international people know about Nigeria more than me? I was born in Nigeria, I have a family there, I also visit, though not as frequently as I do like!
Clean water is universal, so are elections irregularities! Please, I must make a request of you and the other Nigerians, you should get ready to come to America, the Americans have general elections scheduled for November 2004, I am sure TMG, the Catholic Churches in Nigeria and yourself would gladly serve as international monitors and observers of American elections? If not? Why not? Would that be inferiority complex to assume irregularities in America are good but unacceptable in Nigeria? Shouldn’t irregularities in America be monitored by Nigerians and Nigerian based NGOs? But the Americans and Europeans should monitor Nigerian and African elections? President Mbeki of South Africa disagrees with this one-way street traffic of monitoring and observing regimen and I am a having conceptual orgasm knowing that I am not the only one who thinks that election monitoring between America/Europe and Africa should be a two-way street traffic!
I am not an advocate of fraud, criminal behavior or election irregularities! You missed it!
It is an empirical fact that INEC established and managed 120,000 polling stations during the general elections just conducted and conversely, the celebrated American and European Monitors, only had approximately 200 monitors present in Nigeria? How is it then, that some Nigerians are not asking whether it was possible for 200 people to be at 120,000 polling booths or stations, even if they have four eye-balls each?
Even if the polling stations were wired with closed circuit cameras! Could these Americans and Europeans effectively monitor 120,000 polling booths? Did they ever look away from the close-circuits monitors of these cameras? But seriously, the booths or stations were not so wired, and besides, I know the terrains of Nigeria well, from Ravines to the Desert to the Rain Forests and the Savannah grasslands! I have traveled every state of Nigeria, So the long nosed foreigners were in Degema? Burutu? Damaturu? Potiskum? Bama? Umuazare? Oguta? Kafachan? Obudu? Kwale? and Zungeru? They did not just perch at Abuja? Lagos? Kano? In the big cities, coasting with amenities and five star hotels? If so? I am impressed! Do some Nigerians know how arduous and treacherous traveling the nooks and crannies of the ravines can be? Or to remote villages in parts of Nigeria that suffers from desert encroachment and stand storms? Or the foreign elections monitors engaged in random samplings to arrive at their conclusions?
Even in the army, it is not very simple for some two hundred officers to control 120,000 rank and files! Even though there is compulsion in the military! Even if these rank and files were gathered in the same open field, it is difficult for the two hundred officers to make eye contact with each and every rank and file!
Here, the elections did not take place in one huge open field! And the monitors claimed to have made eye contact with 120,000 polling stations and 62 million voters? Hmm OK!
You and others who are desirous of criticizing Nigerians who live abroad, should not do so indiscriminately, and you must not assume that we came here during the past 4 years;
Most Nigerians who now live outside Nigeria did not leave in the last four years, if anything, most Nigerians overseas have been encouraged to come home in the past four years, because the situation is stabilized, I have been living in the United States for almost twenty years! This is certainly not because of Mr. Obasanjo and Mr. Atiku’s administration, NO!
The same can be said for the majority of Nigerians in America, Europe, Asia etc they have been living abroad since the early 1980s when the economy in Nigeria broke, similarly, the infrastructures in Nigeria suffered disrepair, abandonment, neglect and decay, for decades, this again, is not Mr. Obasanjo/Atiku’s fault, Mr. Obasanjo was actually disparaged and then jailed for mentioning the fact that infrastructures in Nigeria were decaying.
Now, to Mr. Obasanjo’s credit, he does not jail people with Decree Two or Decree Four simply because such people criticize him, or abuse him, even when they belittle him and lampoon him! Time a-changing! It is a new Nigeria, a new day in Nigeria! Don’t you agree?
The right to criticize is universal, it applies to the president, you and me, I welcome criticisms, it is an essential component of intellectual exchange, democracy and freedom, I have benefited and learned from your disagreements with me, and perhaps, there is a remote possibility, that there is something useful that can be garnered from what I have been saying in my writings? Let me add that, apart from criticisms, I have also received attacks, then also received commendations, support and encouragement that buoys my modest efforts and I’sha Allah, I play to continue writing!
Furthermore, I am a Nigerian, I was born and raised in Nigeria! Everything that I know, that is worth knowing! I learnt in Nigeria! As I have lived abroad, I have maintained an open mind to other peoples’ cultures, I assimilate some aspects of foreign cultures that I have examined and determined are good for me or compatible with my Nigerian-ness, I certainly do not assimilate garbage cultures, so it is safe to say, that once in a while, I fine- tune the entrenched ways of our good Nigerian culture, But even though so, I still enjoy my tuwo-sinkafa or pounded-yam more, when I use my bare hands! Ni ba bature ba!
How then? As it appears, you do not trust my observations and analysis of the situation in Nigeria, Nigeria where my heart is! Where I have permanent interests, Nigeria to which I have an avowed and unalloyed devotion! But you would trust the Americans and Europeans hook, line and sinker? I believe that your reasons are the same reasons, why some Nigerians would prefer to listen to Oyinbo music instead of Hausa music? Instead of Igbo music? Instead of Yoruba music? Instead of Fufulde or Fulani music? The same reasons why some Nigerians prefer pasteurized Orange Juice from the USA over the better and readily available, fresh squeezed juices from fresh Oranges in Nigeria, that are without chemical and other preservatives?
The above reasons and explanations as I have offered, hopefully answer your queries? The above reasoning is the specific exactitude of the motives for what I write, particularly, about Nigeria, these are my Haka ne, my Beni O and Nodu Ofuma of all my modest writing efforts! Shikena? Nagode!
God and Allah have always blessed Nigeria and will continue to do so, even more abundantly