It is with a sense of pride that I am writing to you! I am indeed pleased with how things eventually turned out for us, the African peoples of the world. It brings tears of joy that the “Africa Rising” refrain that beclouded our atmosphere in the early decades of the third millennium was eventually replaced with the song, “Africans Shinning”. Our journey from fractious kingdoms into democratic republics has indeed been a tumultuous one. Needless to say, how can we forget all that we have gone through? Colonisation disrupted our traditional structures whilst Western-backed dictatorships sentenced our elite into exile in the so-called first world. From my vantage point, I can see that you have received this letter on the same day I had requested it to be mailed across the continent in my last testament, sixty-five years ago. It is indeed wonderful that the mobile revolution, which was barely taking off when I penned this letter, is now at cruising speed, seamlessly connecting our far-flung populations together in brotherly camaraderie and our peoples with countless business opportunities.
Indeed, we have come a long way and I ought to acknowledge the role your millennial played in the turning point of our beloved continent. However, it is my utmost desire to walk you down memory lane so that you and your successive generations do not forget where we were, are and should be. Hence I have chosen to forward the musings of my head under these heavy skies even as Nigeria welcomes the onset of the first rains of the year. Since the September showers of the last wet season, our dear country Nigeria witnessed a barrage of battles between the powers that be and the powers hoping to be. As you have probably read in your history textbooks, the general elections of 2015 was the deciding moment for the existence of Africa’s most populous country. So ominous was the period that those polls were postponed for six weeks to enable the military machinery of the state decimate the strength of the terrorist group Boko Haram, whose actions you have probably read with horror in your history books too. Like the moonlight tales our grandmothers told us, the story of Nigeria’s elections and our eventual emergence as one of the top twenty economies of the world, five years later has a moral to it.
I should tell you my own story first and then, let you draw parallels with that of Nigeria. That way, I can allow you the dignity of freedom that we have always fought for as an undivided race. On a September morning the year before the elections, I went to my optician’s practice to replace my spectacles, which had been broken days back. Although, I didn’t meet the good old eye doctor, his supervisor, a dashing lady attended to my request to get new frames and lens. She assured me that she knew the right solution to my unnecessary visitations. Without warning, she picked up another pair of frames from the gallery and handed it to me. “Put it in your pocket,” she instructed, calmly.
I didn’t flinch at her strange bidding but went ahead to obey without as much as a protest. Immediately, I knew what she had done. She had just stolen from her employer for me. Honestly, I wanted those second pair of frames and I very much wish I could keep them but my conscience just wouldn’t let me. After a few moments, I went to her in private, removed the beautiful glasses from my pocket and handed them back to her. “I cannot accept this ‘gift’,” I managed, praying she would understand. She looked at me without emotion, collected the glasses and returned them in the gallery. Almost at once, I felt proud of what I had done. I knew right, I did right! Within minutes, the frames, which I had paid for, were ready and I slipped them on with a sense of light: it seemed a newly found illumination of the human nature had beamed upon me. “When we say, ‘No!’ to evil, good thrives!” In like manner, after 15 years of reckless looting and unbridled waste, Nigerians would finally show Africa what ‘Enough is enough’ meant when we collectively voted out a corrupt government and embraced the change promised by an incorruptible general, the people’s general seven months later from my encounter at the optician’s. That was when the tide turned for Africa, for it was Nelson Mandela who said, ‘The world will never respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect.’
I am happy that our resolve to take our future in our own hands by rejecting a corrupt government paid off in time. The due process, which that era ushered in, ensured that monies allocated for development projects were judiciously spent to build roads, purchase vaccines, establish schools and create jobs. The change of that time disabused the minds of our citizenry that one has to steal to survive. People began to shift their minds from the lies of half a century that Nigerians are lazy and are only out for a free lunch.