I happen by nature to be quite a nostalgic person, sometimes too nostalgic, as a few friends point out. My mind keeps events in very photographic memory, and the most pleasurable ones, it plays back scene by scene. However, one clip my mind keeps reliving is not even a scene, but rather a period in my life, a time where everything was so pristine and pure, so devoid of the troubles of today, when the Nigeria then was the place to be, at least comparatively, to the Nigeria of today.
Alas, my bubble has since been shattered with age, as life is bound to be. I look around me and all I see is bloodshed and hatred in the name of serving God, who in His wisdom far above that of man made us different religions, and yet we have refused to acknowledge this fact. I turn left and right and see how shrewd, unscrupulous politicians exploit the fault lines of religion and ethnicity in order to remain relevant within their communities so as to benefit financially. I see small children being imbued with hatred and distrust for those different from them and I wonder if this is the foundation values the generations ahead want to run with. All around me is poverty in the midst of plenty; where we have become all diabetics: in the abundance of God’s blessings and endowments on our country, we still lack. I see dreams shattered and even worse, Nigerians setting their goals and dreams low so that they would not be heartbroken.
These days, the mere act of dreaming is a task for a few men of bravery and valour. The vicissitudes of life have hit me too hard to be able to dream so lofty for myself, of what I want to be in relation to the way the country is. Anytime I try, the reality on ground hits me and leaves me deflated. Instead, what I now do is dream that my future son shall have the courage to dream like I once did:
I dream that he would have the courage to dream that his childhood friendships would never be torn apart because they grew up to find they were ‘different’ from each other by virtue of religious faiths and ethnicity, but because of distance or merely growing apart. I hope that he dreams of a future where he and his childhood buddies would be business or political partners even if they be of different religious faiths or ethnic origins.
I dream that he would have the courage to dream of aspiring to any political office in the country, without bothering that his tribe or religion is in the minority in that area, and hence, there was no hope of his winning their votes.
I dream that he would be able to dream of laying claim to the full rights and privileges accorded to him by the Nigerian Constitution, no matter where in the country he is; that he shall dream about settling anywhere and raising his family and living his life to the highest of his aspirations without being labelled a ‘non-indigene’ or ‘settler’, and hence, a second-class citizen.
I dream that he would be able to dream of going to study at any university in this country, and not restricted by quota or catchment areas to a certain number of universities. I hope he dreams that he shall get the school placements he deserves, rather than lose out to some lesser-performing candidate because the other candidate
is from an ‘educationally-disadvantaged state’.
I dream that he is able to dream of securing any job in our Federal or State civil services by his own merit, not because a federal character system which makes the field tilted is in his favour, nor shall he be denied such a job because someone else is given to meet the federal character requirements.
I dream that he would be able to dream of starting his own enterprise, and not having to worry about power or infrastructure, or the total absence of credit support.
I dream that he would be able to dream that he would be able to present his green passport at any embassy, any passport desk at any airport in the world and be treated decently, nay, with awe and admiration as a Nigerian.
I dream that he would be able to dream of going abroad, secure in the fact that should his rights be trampled upon, the Nigerian government shall go to any lengths and leave no stone unturned in fighting for just him.
I dream that he would be able to dream of raising his own children in circumstances far better than his, and definitely mine; where human life is given its true value; where we do not go to sleep with eyes wide shut because we feel insecure; where the things we complain about their absence today are in their abundance then.
This is what I dream about today. All I dream about now is that my son shall have the courage to dream about a better Nigeria.