So it October First as usual in Nigeria, and this year had been one awkward year and the Imagine if Spirit had been dancing so much on our collective heads lately. So Nigerians got no joy, suicide is high, poverty is on the rise, corruption is still very high insecurity is on the rise, our international image is getting messier and there is no clear cut solution on sight. Usually on October first our historic independence day, it used to be a day of a very high spirit, a day of pride, and a day of matching to the green and white flag as we sing to the glory of our fatherland.
This year was nothing of a high spirit for me, in fact I was so indifference, I decided to just stay indoors instead of going out for the celebration because I had gotten tired of going out to listen to frustrated Nigerians give their horrible accounts of Nigeria on how Nigeria had faired since amalgamation by Lord Lugard in 1914 as the story keeps getting worse every year.
As I was in my room staring aimlessly at the ceiling, my phone rang, it was my girlfriend calling, after the normal greetings she said, “did you read the president’s Independence speech”, I answered NO, she said, “it was so boring and I was like imagine if you were the one that wrote it, it could have been much better”, I didn’t give it much thought at then and I said “babe, thank you so much for believing in me, I wish I could really have such opportunity to write on such remarkable occasions”, after some more talks, the call was terminated and I went back to staring at my ceiling, along the line I fell asleep.
When I woke, I thought about what she said and one phrase was so familiar in her statement that phrase is “imagine if”. Nigerians had on many occasions used the phrase to give excuses to almost everything that ever happened in the country and I began to wonder if the phrase is a spirit tormenting the country since independence. I decided to look more into that phrase and I discovered that even when Nigerians are not using the exact same phrase as an excuse they do use its synonyms.
Example of times when Nigerians had to resort to their Imagine if Spirit in excuse to crucial matters.
The recent Xenophobia in South Africa: So many Nigerians including high profile individuals had to look up to the Imagine if Spirit with statements like, imagine if it was during the time of Abacha.
Other popular imagine ifs can be seen in statements like:
- Imagine if Lord Lugard never amalgamated Northern and Southern Nigeria.
- Imagine if Former president Yaradua did not die in office.
- Imagine if Abiola’s election was not annulled.
- Imagine if we have Biafra (Mostly among Igbos).
- Imagine if we have true Federalism and resource control (Mostly Southern Nigeria).
- Imagine if there is no corruption in Nigeria.
- Imagine if it was when Super Eagles were still Super Eagles (Now They are Super Sparrow Abi)
- Imagine if it was when Naira was still Naira (You fit buy Car with N500, Not sure of Benz Though)
- Imagine if it was when Nigeria was still the giant of Africa (When the world still dey respect us).
- Imagine if there is no tribalism in Nigeria (We for be like America)
The truth still remains that a country is never built on the basis of imaginations, How come this Imagine if Spirit never worked on other countries because Two of America’s great Presidents John F Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln were assassinated but America never said Imagine if they were not assassinated. The USSR was split but Russia never said imagine if we were never split. China has an explosive population but China never said imagine if we were just two hundred million people. Japan suffered two atomic bombs during second world war but never for once did Japan say imagine if we weren’t bombed. These go on to show that countries are built on the basis of proactive measures by both leaders and the general citizens not on mere imaginations, excuses and wishes.
I am not saying that some avoidable mistakes that have ruined the country are not worth wishing away, but while we spend more time wishing away, things are getting worse and a better way out is not at sight, so let’s all imagine less and do more maybe one day we can have the Nigeria of our imagination.
By Alex Bells in the honour of my girlfriend, my country and my country people, Happy independence to every Nigerian out there who believes that we had suffered enough and will not take it anymore.
You can add your own #imagineIfs.
You may also want to read: Is History Bias or Fair, How Does History Judge?