In very recent times, we’ve seen a series of tragedies and injustices committed against the people of Nigeria. Whenever such tragedies like the Dana Airlines crash occur, the immediate reaction of our people is often “God please save Nigeria…!” We momentarily mourn the losses and very soon after, we settle into a place of complacency. People typically go back to their daily lives and the daily hustle continues… until the next tragedy strikes again and then you hear the same utterances followed by a passive attitude…the cycle continues… and so on and so forth.
Even in cases as egregious as this recent Dana Airlines tragedy, where there is mounting evidence of willful negligence- where it is very apparent that several leaders in both the private sector and the Federal government failed the very people, who entrusted their lives in their hands and trusted in their abilities to lead effectively- the majority are still not moved enough to do more than helplessly throw their hands in the air. Many people neither seek accountability nor transparency, even following such a tragedy, and for the few that try, they are subdued, beaten down, or simply bribed to look the other way.
We have over 160 million people in Nigeria and less than 1% of the population is running the country, with the 99% majority at their mercy. We sit back and watch the systematic abuse of power that is embedded in the very fabric of the Nigerian society. Basic livelihoods are threatened everyday by the lack of basic infrastructure and proper oversight. When a leader steals money meant to build good roads, they indirectly kill thousands who later die in car accidents on those roads. When a leader is given adequate resources to build hospitals, but neglects to do so, they indirectly kill thousands who do not get the proper care needed. When a leader is given authority and has been empowered to provide proper oversight over air travel to ensure that Nigerians can expect to travel safely to and from their destinations, and not expect to meet untimely deaths, but fails to do so, they indirectly… well you know the rest!
Even with the many lives that have been lost in such unnecessary tragedies, most of our people have come to accept these conditions as basic status quo in Nigeria. No matter how grave the injustice is, it’s never enough to motivate the majority of Nigerians to truly say, “Enough is Enough!” and demand better. In lieu of protesting, marching, speaking up and asking for more à la Oliver Twist, may sit back and watch in silence. Some even criticize and try to silence those of us that do speak up and demand accountability for such injustices.
I speak from experience as I’m often silenced by my critics, who tell me I’m doing too much when I want to do more than give the typical response of “God please save Nigeria!” We are all in need of God’s divine grace and mercy and I encourage everyone to continuously keep Nigeria, its leaders and its people in their prayers because heaven knows we need it. But beyond that, I also encourage my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters to move their faith to the next step and take action- speak up, march, protest- let your voices be heard- so that our leaders know that more needs to be done to protect the lives and livelihoods of our loved ones back home. With the Fuel Subsidies, Nigerians at home and abroad came together to speak up against such injustices. With the tragic Dana Airlines crash, where so many innocent people lost their lives unnecessarily, we should be galvanized to action and demand
accountability. We should pray… but the natural next step should be action because after all, “God helps those that help themselves!”
I used to be one of those that resorted to “God please save Nigeria…” in the wake of tragedy, followed by inactivity on my part. But after the Jos Massacre in 2010, in which several innocent families- women and children were brutally attacked and killed in the middle of the night, I decided that Enough was truly Enough for me and was moved to action. I organized a Prayer Service to enable others in the natural transition from “call to prayer” to “call to action”. This event was held in Silver Spring Maryland, USA. My goal was simply for the community to come together and pray for the victims, their families, and for Nigeria. We also wanted to raise money to send to the victims’ families. Several of my colleagues, fellow Nigerian promoters and some Jos natives in the area joined my cause. I expected that since most Nigerians often reacted to tragic news with a call to pray, they would be very receptive to an opportunity to come together to pray, heal and raise funds for the victims’ families- ACTION!
However, even with the tens of thousands of Nigerians in the area and with five of the biggest Naija promoters promoting the event, we barely had 50 people in the Church that night. Most Nigerian Associations and Organizations in the area declined to support the event (they also declined to support the Fuel Subsidy protests in Washington DC). Most Nigerian bloggers, PR folks, news writers in the Diaspora declined to support that and other similar events as well.
Folks, it is up to us, the masses, to change Nigeria. It is up to us make it better. We must hold people accountable and stop settling for mediocrity. We have to start demanding greater competence from our people and from our leaders… We have to start demanding more for ourselves and from ourselves. We have to stop sitting on our hands and passively watching tragedy after tragedy with no reaction. We are plagued by the diseases of Apathy, Selfishness, Greed and Jealousy- so that even when some of us are in a position of influence, we still do nothing to help.
As a people, we hold a certain responsibility to one another and should be affected when tragedies strike others. We should take action even when we don’t personally know the victims. Let us continue to pray for them, their families and our beloved country, Nigeria, and then galvanize into action- Speaking out and demanding better infrastructure, better protection of livelihoods and better security of the lives of our families at home.
May God have mercy on the souls of those who passed away on the ill-fated flight and may their souls rest in perfect peace. May God give strength, perseverance, peace, love and hope to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy. May God touch the hearts of our leaders, from the President to the senators, ministers, governors, special assistants to wake up and take a stand against all forms of corruption, may God instill love in their hearts for their fellow Nigerians and encourage them to do right by the people, their constituents.
Harrison ”Harry Baba” Nwozo June 4, 2012