I also messed up Nigeria


As many that will read the above title, some will be shocked to stupor; many will say it is impossible while others will retrospectively ask the question how?

Every reaction is to be expected knowing the kind of  man I  have grown to be.  Yesterday while walking home in the cold  hissing winds that was caressing Louisville to gloominess; I suddenly felt an unhealthy disturbance in my bowel. The intensity of the churning sound emanating from my bowels evoked a sensation that put some speed to my footsteps.I immediately went to the rest room with number 2 on my mind; I stood up to realize that there was some dispersed urine on the toilet plate. I had to hurriedly get back to the lab I muttered, I will clean it up when I get back home I thought. At the door, my mind quickly went back to the toilet plate, again, I muttered; no need, after all nobody visits me and moreover it is my house; I will clean it when I get back home.
Then whispered the solemn voice, what if you forget and someone decides to visit with the hope of using the toilet? Without a waste of time I quickly pulled out the toilet paper and wiped the plate.Hmm! I began to ponder thoughtfully, it didn’t take seconds and didn’t take anything away from my time when I got back to the lab.On my way to the lab, thoughts flooded my sub-consciousness, taking me aback to my days in Nigeria and in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, otherwise known as the most beautiful campus in Africa.Indeed Ile-Ife, was quite a beauty when I got in, the wondrous edifice have their supposed fixating walls blighted with a disarray of posters. Many of these posters are a caricature elaborating the desecrating nature of students as some of them were torn to menacing shapes and sizes.


Some were further painted to ridicule some of  the authorities  and members  of  the Student  Union Government  (SUG).  Ife  was in deed beautiful with the loitering of feces on sidewalks, nearby bushes, plantation and academic halls.They said when a man is surrounded by so many ugly women; they all become goddesses in his eyes.Our nose and life styles became norm to the horrific smells that prevailed in the halls to the extent thatsome students will still use a toilet burdened by piles of decayed feces. Sometimes on your way to take your shower, you will see students squatting on bare floor defecating at the expense of the toilet even when it is clean enough. Unfortunately, Ife was not akin alone to these nonchalance and I-don’t-care attitude.


I visited so many higher institutions during my stay in Nigeria, Federal University of Technology Owerri, University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, Federal University of Technology Akure, Ahmadu Bello Uninversity,  University of Jos etc.  name it. Behold many of these institutions don’t understand what civilization is after all, Satan himself will be afraid to do what was done to the buildings, environment,classrooms, cafeterias sport centers and hostels of these institutions.Thoughts flooded my sub-consciousness as I began to walk listlessly to the lab. I remembered sometime while in Nashville, I hastily bought a sandwich and ate as I went.


I folded the wrap in my pocket and searched earnestly for a trash can until I got home. Concomitantly, I remembered the loitering papers from roasted corn, plantain or yam or even suya that rummaged the ambit of Lagos and many cities of Nigeria  I  was opportuned to visit.  I  thought  perhaps it  was my poor background,  but  the rich  and powerful were not exempted. Many saw it as their right to desecrate and liter the environment with feculence, dirt and all manner of scuz. Thoughts  flooded my sub-consciousness  as I  walked back to  the lab.  I  was in  Nigeria to  renew my passport sometime in 2013. All effort to do everything right was a waste of time. Everyone was sorting their way through with extra amount of money. I had no choice; I had to pay my way through. Thoughts flooded my sub-consciousness when I went to the ministry of works to visit my friend, we had chatted for almost three hours before I realized he was actually at work.


When I asked him about it, he said don’tworry,  today  is  work  free  day.  But  I  saw him dismiss  clients,  ignore customers  and  completely  did nothing. How can a Monday be a work free day? The thoughts began to flow as I recalled all the things we  took  for  granted  that  have  ultimately  become  the  harvest  of  lawlessness,  corruption,  idleness,indiscipline,  selfishness,  bribery,  exam  malpractices,  lying,  cruelty  and  all  manners  of  crime  that  is prevalent  in  the  Nigerian  state  at  the  moment.  We  have  sown  the  seed  of  unhealthy  society  and followership and thus we are reaping the harvest of bad cum insincere leadership.Now as I walk, the tears started dripping from my eyes solemnly. I messed up Nigeria as well I thought. I contributed in many ways to these anomalies. I gave excuses for all the wrongs, nonchalance and I-don’t-care attitude. I kept quiet when I was supposed to speak out, I did nothing when it was callous to sit on the fence, and I looked on and cheered when jungle justice was being meted out to someone.


I gave bribe because I feared I had no choice, I criticized destructively when I should have been constructive and provide some solutions. I encouraged idleness in the face of so much work. Oh how much I had contributed to the nose-diving trajectory Nigeria is experiencing today. Today I ask myself what has changed. I was in Nigeria by the end of last year and when I went out with my younger brother I remembered pocketing the plastic bag and bottle of water in search of a trash can.I found none until I got home. At the bus stop, I waited for my turn. I  went to one of the fast food restaurant with a friend and realized there was no tissue paper at the restroom, I went to the manager to report, unfortunately he was giving excuses and said there was nothing he could do about it but I stood my ground and insisted until he went out to buy a bag of tissue. My friend was pulling me to forget about it, no more I yelled. I can’t be a party to indolence and mischief. What has changed I still ask,couldn’t be because I have seen something else? Or could it be because Nigerians knew no better? I honestly doubt it, I just really think it’s because I realized I also messed up Nigeria.

Elisha Otome writes in from Lousville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ElishaOtome