Nigeria: It’s no longer funny


From Felix Akam

Yes, that knowledge brings sadness is what one may learn from the story of Adam and Eve as narrated in the Bible. When ignorance was all that was needed to live happily, the desire to know everything got Adam and Eve into trouble and saw all of us kicked out of paradise. That was how we lost Eden and found ourselves in Usman Dan Fodio’s empire.

To save man too, it was ignorance of Mary-‘For I know no man’- that save mankind. God found in her ignorance a worthy womb for His Son. It is not knowledge but ignorance that saves a relationship. The more man digs to know in his relationship, the sadder he becomes. The spouses who mounted cameras to track or sent someone to trail their partners might have gained the facts they needed, but it is difficult to say how they felt psychologically afterwards in their marriages, battling with heart break and trust issues.

Unfortunately, ignorance does not lead a nation to progress, it is knowledge. Ignorance is not permitted when graver harms are envisaged. In a family system, the ratio normally is 1:1. In a social contract, the ratio of leaders to masses is 1: 40. While ignorance may save the union, the 97.5 percent of the population may have to suffer injuries because of what their leaders do.

Nigeria has been kept as one not by the wisdom of her leaders but the ignorance of the masses who submit themselves for manipulation all the time. But like I say always, our-mumu-don-do. If Nigeria must go further as a nation, we must seek knowledge of not only why mangoes ripe but how every system we belong to functions.

Sometimes my inbox reads, “Why do you attack government instead of encouraging the little they do?” Needless responding that I do not attack a system, I witness to truth. Somewhere in “Voice Loyalty to Ebonyi Project” I explained: “witnessing to the truth is not only a duty upon the defenseless citizens; it is a necessity for the functioning of any remotely decent society. No respectable legal system, for example can do without witness.”

Whenever people remind me that I am a priest who ought to face spiritual thing, I point out to them that Christ is the first Christian patriot who wept for Jerusalem and predicted its fall. I remind them that the idea of ‘witness’ is inseparable from a revealed religion of Christianity such that scholars point that there are 78 occasions in the Bible where the word “witness” is used, majority of them in the new Testament. Yes, I am a minister of the Gospel just as we are all called.

Getting to my age, I have noticed a decline- almost a collapse- of public figures who are prepared to be publicly brave in leadership criticisms. Who can you think of in public life who says anything so strongly and boldly that you can take him or her by his or her words? Not even in the church.

Today, Nnamdi Kanu leads an army of angry generation produced by a failed system. He is witnessing. While we may have our reservations, we must remember that they are product of a system. Those who are interested in digging into his past should realize that not many bishops can stand up to the evil of a common ward councilor for fear of being exposed. It therefore takes courage to stand up to challenge a political system called Nigeria. Rather than waste articles suggesting how witnesses will fail or how agitation will lead to doom, we have got to beam our light on every evil structure we have found ourselves.

We are humans, we are weak, and that is why I deploy high level of diplomacy when I disagree with a person. In June 2017 I got the circular of a State government banning her civil servants from commenting on social media, I read it with sadness because it revealed how gifted we are in low thinking. To avoid inflaming the hearts of citizens already brutalized, I toned it down and advised the government when I wrote Biafra Angst and Ebonyi Contrition: “A state which suppresses the freedom of her youths to tell their stories how they affect them cannot produce the likes of Shakespeare nor will her name ever be put on the world map as a land of thinkers. A state that discourages heterogeneous thinking, who bans civil servants from commenting on any write-up not praising their policies and advocates clamp down on social media in an e-age, will not have wealth of options before her in policy assessment; rather than superior argument, she will repeatedly fall to infantile idea and keeps on constructing, destroying and reconstructing and re-destroying.”

The advice was ignored and today the circular has gone viral. Now, do you blame angry citizens who insult politicians or politicians who insult our freedom of expression because of a position that does not last more than four years? Our age needs witnessing because our problem is overwhelming.

Look at the number of children graduating this year in Nigeria when those who graduated 15 years ago are still stranded in labour market. The future is bleak. The simple action of standing for posterity demands urgent intervention. If we must change, we can’t pay for an item in Abakaliki and go to Zamfara to demand the balance. We must begin to ask questions when, where and how they matter. No unjust system should be allowed to thrive again.

Our quest to know must begin from a family where fathers rig election of siblings in favour of the most progressive son. Pastors alone should no longer know how much is offered to God, the faithful must join them to present the account to God. Our-good-works-speak-for-us should no longer be an accepted template for account presentation, we must demand that the spending be broken down and evaluated against open market realities. The more we seek to know, the nearer we are to the destination.

Wasting articles attacking those who witness is like wasting punches outside the ring. We are getting weaker. Let us turn to where it matters; it’s no longer funny.

Felix Uche Akam, a native of Ndinwali Igbeagu-izzi, Ebonyi State-Nigeria. He holds Bachelor's Degrees in Philosophy, Mass Communication and Theology; and also had his Post Graduate Studies in Journalism, Education and Accountancy. Felix is a journalist, a research student in media hermeneutics, a public affairs commentator and an advocate of the masses.

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