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Nigeria: Before the sweeping sword of anger ~ Japheth J Omojuwa @omojuwa

Nigeria is an interesting country in every sense of the word. A friend told me of a friend of his with seven cars parked in his Abuja house and some other luxury machines in his village starting a sentence with “we the masses…” Of course, I used to think that I was part of the foot of the Nigerian pyramid until January 2012 when I was faced with the folly of my illusion. I had lived in my usual way, in a distorted reality all along.

To put things in context, I attended a relatively expensive private school, though not too expensive, I was a student at King’s College and my dad collects rent from at least 300 people and he had enough to spare at least two buildings for poor people evacuated by the government to live in free of charge. I was born into wealth but I appreciate the opportunities I had at tasting the bitterness of poverty. I felt what the poor feel and my works at making life better for everyone I can help is born out of that experience. I grew up with all my essential needs met. My dad had more than enough to host public Christmas parties and enough to spare for another car every now and then. Through this experience though, I never for once thought I was different from other poor Nigerians. This must be because my dad kept us grounded in that reality. That totally changed for me during the Occupy Nigeria movement. I had left the Gani Fawehinmi Park at the Ojota end of Lagos in a clean, air conditioned Toyota car with my friends Olumide Gbadebo (@msgbadebo) and Tolu Obamuroh (@toluwabisi) for the Alagbado studios of Africa Independent Television AIT. Tolu was driving on this day. We were going to express the views of other poor Nigerians – or so we thought – but the truth stared at us at least four times on this day and each time with the ugliness of danger, fear and for me regret.

Angry young men were collecting tolls on the road. This is a common sight even during days the nation is not on a total lock down. On my way from the Abuja airport recently, just before the military check point, just after you turn into the Umaru Yar’Adua way, on the right side of the road, I saw young men and women collecting tolls on a dusty road. That hurt me because that’d send a striking message to a new visitor to this country. The difference on this day was the anger on the faces of these Sagamu express road toll collectors. We were asked to “kill the AC! Wind down! Wind down!” and don’t even think about making a dash off because you are certain to hit one of them and while that’d put you in police trouble you’d not need to go through the legal wahala because these boys had more than enough anger in them that day to kill anyone and enough left to burn the car and whatever. I was totally pissed off. So I spoke out of anger. I told them we were running late for an appearance on AIT on our way from the Ojota Park end of Occupy Nigeria. “Efi yin le, a wa o ko yen je o” (forget that story, we are not interested). I told them we were one and the same and we were in the same struggle but that apparently got them a lot angrier. “Eyin te wa ninu AC en wa oko ayokele eni ba kan na ni wa. Etu imi pa. En ya were!” (You are in a posh car with AC and you are claiming we are one? Tell another lie. You are mad!”)

To cut the long story short, Olumide waded in with a calmer voice. She told them the long and short of who were and they were interested in listening to her. Olumide wears contacts and that really got them to shut up and just get enraptured in her looks. They even made comments like “Oju Olongbo” (cat eyes) but it was in a calm way. I am not good at recalling bad experiences but I recall I felt closest to danger on this day. That happened a lot more times on our way but by this time I was so angry and when I get to this point within me, I lock my mouth. It is most deadly at this stage, apart from the dangers of talking to these mobs.

At the Ojota end of the movement, we – rich and poor, old and young, touts and gentlemen, the famous and the practically inconsequential etc – were all united and there was peace. There was no single incident. It never looked like we were from different levels of the Nigerian pyramid of deprivation. The journey to AIT offered a stark reality. It was on this day I realised that whenever the revolution of the poor rises – if it ever does – even I will be seen as one of “them” and the them here includes those the poor feel are responsible for their poverty. When I was making this point, someone said he earned his money legally without stealing from government and I told the person that when the sword of anger sweeps the city for whom to devour, it would have no time to ask you how you became rich. Your only passport to death would be that you are rich.

I have made these points to send a message to Nigeria’s rich. Charity is good. My dad for all his human imperfections taught me the art of charity. Charity will not save us from the anger of the poor. If we do not do all within our powers to make this country work for the benefit of the majority, the rich and privileged minority will not live in peace. We hear tales of kidnapped popular and influential figures in the news, we are not privy to the news when it affects the less famous or influential but that really is the order of the day.

They may not read newspapers or pay attention to the numbers in the news but they cannot be unconvinced that their poverty is not because some have chosen to have more than is due them from the national treasury. The ministry of petroleum needs $41m (6.2b) for the PIB awareness campaign, the President needs $15m (N2.2b)to build a Club House or what do you call a Banquet Hall in a deep sense? The principal members of the national assembly are waiting to move into their $7m (N1b) – per person – houses. Last year the Federal Government claimed it had over 71 thousand ghosts in its employ costing the nation $186m (N28b) but no one has told us why this money has not been accounted for after the revelation. Are we still paying these ghosts or we simply diverted the money elsewhere? $31b (N5 trillion) has disappeared under the watch of this administration even as it claims it is on top of the fight against corruption. The Swiss government has told us it returned $700m to Nigeria but the Nigerian government still plays deaf and dumb. Mothers and children are getting killed every day in the North-East, their sin, they live in the same land where terrorists have made their abode. Trillions of naira upon trillions to provide security yet what we have is more deaths, more kidnappings and more insecurity in every sense of the word. The President of Nigeria himself does not feel safe.

The flood displaced millions of people after killing some others, Gen. Owoeye Azazi who failed woefully after supervising the expenditure of trillions as National Security Adviser heads the Committee on Flood victims.

As a people, we trudge on, looking to get the chance to have our chance at the national cake. The richest amongst us are not safe here so they make homes in far lands. What is the point of a home where peace is not seen let alone recognized? We are the 7th most terrorized country in the world and yet we think there is no revolution yet. The revolution has started, it has only not started in the way that you imagined it would start. In the coming months and years, the fear of living in Nigeria would be more than the fear of being in a plane the pilot just announced an impending crash-landing. We can change this impending reality but first we must all as one people agree that if Nigeria does not work for all us, it is not working. If the transformation of the land does not transform the lives of the common man, those who tell lies of transformation should keep their tears within their eyes when the street comes looking to unleash bloody justice. A word is enough for the wise

~ I am @omojuwa

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45 comments

  1. We must realize that this Nigeria is sick and with the sincerity of our leaders and followers we must rejig a new chapter in he history of this country

  2. Great!

  3. Akinyosoye Victor

    we shall all see very soon, it will be brutal that you will beg for your life and that of your kids and you will never get it.

  4. There is obviously fire on the mountain, and nobody is running. Nice piece.

  5. Very true words from the heart. Perhaps the experience made it so. If you get to Makoko community and see poverty, you will appreciate these words. Kudos man

  6. This is a prophesy and an imminent threat,but how do we avert it if we can’t stand as one like we did during d Occupy movement.Nigeria is going into comatose is not there yet. We have all we need to be a great nation but we are lacking good leaders to take us to d promise land and kickstart d revolution in the right direction. Five word for you Japh, God Go Make You Bigger.

  7. Waw! its so true and touching. What ever is about to happen in Nigeria have started.

  8. I was frustrated at work for not getting my entitlements, got to my hometown for sallah with no salary. But then a good samaritan warned me of my jobless neighbours who he said are envious of my small car nd little house. We are in soup!

  9. I love Nigeria; with all my heart and pride. I have no other country. I can’t imagine living in d West bcos of fear of living in my own country.
    We will really be wealthy genuinely and soon, so I asked my friend d other day, “What will happen to our families when we bcom really rich?
    We can protect ourselves but how do we protect our families, friends and loved ones from kidnappers and other criminals?” He opened his mouth but had no answer.

    Nigeria today is product of d dreams of our wicked fathers and mothers, selfish and greedy uncles and aunts. But time has come for us young people to begin building d Nigeria of our own dreams. We own this country!

    What are our dreams for Nigeria?

    We must begin to dream a new Nigeria and we must believe that change is possible. We must believe that everyone can make a difference no matter how little; just from where u are.
    If not today, when? If we don’t, who will? If we don’t start now, when shall we ever?

    I will not give up on my country. I will start and build businesses that build lives and create employment instead of searching for one. I will join a political party and run for office to try to cause change from within (even though they are all the same). I will vote rightly and be voted for.

    Above all, as long as there is God in heaven who still answers prayers, I will never cease from praying for my country. What will u do, my friend?

    ~ @wealthymotivatr

  10. This is a very good and humane write-up. @omojuwa you are very detailed and shows human feelings despite your priviledged background and this is very uncommon amongst youths in our generation. This country most times leaves me with nothing to say except pray and hope for a better future. The corruption, lack of fear of God, killings, BH, bad governance, etc. I read somewhere not too long ago that Nigeria is one of the worst places for a child to be born (What is that!!!!). Infact I am speechless.

  11. Time will tell…justice will be done by any means

  12. I am not wealthy, neither am I rich or close to what you can call “average”. Its sad when u see some people and you still gotta imagine what it must be like to be as poor as they are.. My brothers and sisters, I doubt if this country can last another 5yrs, honestly! Think about it, what do you think the worst that can happen would be if it hasn’t already happened? I just want everyone to be happy and live in peace and if that includes Splitting up this country then so be it!!! I’m not getting younger and I will not run away from this country!!! We can make it happen, all we gotta do is decide when and how. How Much are you willing to sacrifice for the future of tomorrow?? Are u ready to put ur large businesses and mansions and fancy cars on the line?? Are you ready to hit the streets and say no? Are you ready to go to every government house and demand justice standing against the opression of Guns and tanks??? Time is running out!

  13. Here’s the deal…. Would you rather sacrifice half of everything so you can Repo that half when things finally get better or relax and refuse to act and lose everything in about 5yrs?? We are not the first to have to pass through trying times but we gotta to learn from nations who have been here before, what did they have to do?? Fight!!!! We must fight!!! We must protest!!! They can’t kill everyone so there’s nothing to be scared about! Let’s build a resistance because we are at war whether u want it or not, we just haven’t gotten to the Bombs phase but yes we are!!! 150million people can’t be cowards, its a game of numbers so that makes it about 140million to about a few thousand selfish and greedy politicians, do we have up to 2 million policemen and and soldiers put together?? They are nigerians too and they sure don’t enjoy the situation of things!! You see?? We already have this so let’s take it all back!! Occupy Nigeria was a mock revolutions, a drill, the real one is bouta happen! Are you ready????

  14. Prophetic. It baffles me that d elites hv nt seen d hand writing on d wall.

  15. This is very nice piece but what is the way forward? We need to look beyond proffessional politicians and see how we can give back to the society. For example, I was in Benue State to work and the host community insisted that I fix their road before I will be allowed to work. The road has not been passable for years but to my suprise I paid just 90k for a grader that worked on the road and made it motorable.

  16. Nyc one bro we love N god will blass u N family

  17. Nyc one bro we love N god will blass u N family come on nigerian we can do it

  18. This piece is a reflection of what makes me laugh so much about my country…a country where the few who perpetrate grievous injustice and a continuous rape of Nigeria think they are secure in their ill gotten wealth. Fools think they are secure in a society where those responsible for security are insecure….I dey laugh o!

    I can assure you those who are responsible for our current state cannot live anywhere other than in Nigeria. They run a very high risk of ending in Jail for Money laundering. Their only illusion of security is in the thought that they can run away with theirs when trouble starts…but I guarantee them it shall be like a thief in the night… unannounced.

    Many days for the thief…one day for the owner!

  19. The poor and down trodden have so had it that it doesn’t matter to them who is fighting their course. They are more concerned about meeting ends needs. I pray we won’t get to that time in history where blood of innocents and guilts would be shed under the notion of revolution. We say to ourselves that it is well, my question is, IS IT WELL?

  20. Omojuwa nice write up, a nation that ranks 7th in terrorism, where in the world the ranking of the best university is 6340 (university of Ibadan 57 in Africa) , the 35th most corrupt country in the world(could be higher ) with a leader who is the most travelled in the world since he assumed office and cares not for the needs of the common man, yes Omojuwa there is need for change, a positive wind of change. The truth is the masses know themselves u can’t be in a posh car with ac and tell the common man walking under the scorching sun that you know his plight with words, you have to make him see that you share in this dilemma . Once again nice writeup bro much respect

  21. Indeed the Revolution has began, but it is too slow for my liking. I think the docility on the part of the majority of Nigerians is too much, I cant wait for the time when we the oppressed will take our destiny fully in our own hands.So sad, the vice presidents house will gulp a whooping 16billion Naira, i am sure the Housing Authority will not get up to that to provide houses for the populace. What hell of a country. Arise o compatroits..cos silence to injustice is disobidience to God. Lets turn all those mansions that have been built with our common patrimony into schools and hospitals..till then, the anger is still burning..north, east south or west..poverty is not zoned.they want to divide us along ethnic and religious lines..so it will make it easier for them to continue looting..the veil is off.

  22. This article touches me more than I could have imagined!!! I am (and truly I am) made of d street! Yet I could afford †? use blackberry curve 4 wt anoda nokia join… Where there r ppl that cannt even afford a torchlyt nokia!! Yet I struggle for myself, stil a student wt no monthly allowance forthcoming!! But when d revolution comes †? reality…. D just shall live by his/her faith..???»?·???·??????????????????????k?????????????·???·???«??

  23. This article touches me more than I could have imagined!!! I am (and truly I am) made of d street! Yet I could afford †? use blackberry curve 4 wt anoda nokia join… Where there r ppl that cannt even afford a torchlyt nokia!! Yet I struggle for myself, stil a student wt no monthly allowance forthcoming!! But when d revolution comes †? reality…. D just shall live by his/her faith..???»?·???·??????????????????????k?????????????·???·???«??

  24. Yeah let rich know the poor hungry man u neglect on the side of d road while u zoom pass in a million dollar car, will soon be the angry man that disturb ur peace

  25. Interesting piece; it makes me wonder, and ponder over a lot of issues. However my message for Nigerians all over the world is simple: we all have to make our country a better place. It’s no secret that our leaders aren’t doing us good, but let each one of us answer these questions honestly – are we doing our nation good? Would we do things differently in positions of power? I’ve seen enough to know that as a people, we don’t practice what we preach – folks talk about the baleful effects of corruption, yet they seize every opportunity to engage in malfeasances and excrescences like lobbying, shunting, bribery to mention a few. My people, only God can deliver us. But as we look to him for revival and sustenance, let each and every one of us act as the change we want to see in our country. Let us all play our part and hope for a better tomorrow. As far as I know, God cannot forsake Nigeria. Nigerians will smile again, we just have to keep the faith!

  26. Spot on, very true and very very scary. For a long time, I have observed the angry look on the faces of uniformed security guards stationed at the gate of my office. A government ministry whose staff feel aggrieved themselves. Most of these security guys are graduates and you can almost feel their hatred everyday as they open the gates and give you the looks that say ‘you don’t know what it means to b poor’.. I tell u dat when d revolution begins, most of us who can afford to feed well, own a tokumbo car, own a blackberry fone or even dress well in second hand clothes are going to be very surprised to know dat they do not belong with the ‘masses’. May God help those of us dat r neither rich nor poor, Amen!

  27. The truth laid bare for all to read,learn,tell others and hopefully change our ways.n

  28. The just shall live by faith. Still hoping 4 a better Nigeria. But for how long? Me is ready 4 a better Nigeria even though a price must be paid. Its that price that has being the procastination factor. Remember, procastination is a thief of time. Tell me if our time of getting to our promise land has not been stollen by procastination. We must stop blaming the rich. Put yourself in their shoes and them in your shoes and tell me if the story will change. A word is enough for the wise.

  29. A superb piece by a patiotic citizen who has his country @ heart, who also feels the pains felt by majority Nigerians, we have been doing the talking, let’s now do the action.

  30. This is a good write up and advice to the government and the rich, but are they willing to take to the advice wheather they like it or not revolution is here. I used to tell my friends that our problem in this country can only be solve by gun. My brother people are really suffering Lagos is a little bit better go to other western states of the country you will understand what am saying. Next you hear is revolution…

  31. Their eyes and ears are closed becouse they are power drunk and very they shall all become sober when we the masses get revolution drunk. The days are already here.

  32. To Whom It May Concern:

    Your chicken is not safe if your neighbours go to bed starving.

    A word is enough for the wise!

  33. Nice piece Mr J. News making round today says angry youths protesting in plateau burnt houses belonging to a legislature, local govt chairman etc. R we still far from d bloody revolution? Soonest if dere r no improvements a lot will go wrong.

  34. Who’s side are you on?? Decide while you can because NIGERIANS are about to turn it up!!! You’ll see! 150million people, they(politicians) should be scared tho! We Are coming, Its REPO Time!!!!! God bless and keep us alive enough to be able to Celebrate that victory.

  35. ‘The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshened by the blood of patriots and tyrants; it is it’s natural manure’ – Abraham Lincoln. Are we ready? Unless there is a deterrent force to corruption this evil will continue. The masses must move out and without sentiments exterminate the ruling class and their cronies- we know all of them.

  36. It hs been brewin since d beginin of time,we ol re aware of evrythng,yet nothn is being done. Its a recipe 4 disaster,nva hav i seen a country such as mine. Wat happnd 2 d legacy left by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe,Chief Obafemi Awolowo,Sir Ahmadu Bello? They were Nigerians,they did it even at a tym wen nt many were educatd lyk nw. Y cnt d legacy go on? This s an issue dat encompasses ol wether u r 4rm d north,south,east or west u r affectd n u hav d scar 2 show,we r nt dumb nor stupid.

  37. prophetic! kudos! timely! wonderful, etc!!! what are the action points here. whats the difference btw this and a PDP manifesto? where do we start? How do we as stake holders avert the impending danger? cos obviously, the so called leaders will read and either ignore this prophetic piece as usual or give @omojuwa the Tunde Bakari treatment! (I pray God gives u his kind of grace) we like and speak too much grammar in this country! are we, as youth of this great country who obviously has greater stakes in this project going to stay put and watch until the revolution catches up wth us? it shall be like the day of rapture! Action Now!!! pls

  38. To them it nothing serious but when the day come they will all wish for a new begining that will never come.

  39. This is a wonderfully crafted, well timed write up. I have nursed this fear since our activist days in school. We used to say the privildged n the less privildged will always meet one day. The privildged as the victim and the less priviledged as the assailant! He that have ears, let him hear.

  40. Hahahahahaha, laughter, absolutely. Hahahahaha, the problem of our great nation is not corruption only rather religion and ethnicity. A reminder please, when people came out on subsidy removal, the south south people were against it that some part of the conspired to sabotaged their son, the yorubas did that with Obasanlo’s tenure and the north also. Sorry i don’t see revolution in the near future, what we need right now is accepting our selves Muslim or Christian, Northerner or Southerner and one Nigeria. Veraciously, obviously lets learn to live with one another. Hahahahah!

  41. Charity is poison when it’s given as a substitute for justice.This nation has gone terminal at the blurring of the line between the oppressors and the oppressed.To count me in the class that mob justice would consume for possessing the perks of my junketing in and out of court rooms would leave much to be desired.

  42. See grammar galore… We aint ready yet as a nation. The mofos from the east started kidnapping all on fighting for the masses shey?! They ended up enriching their pockets. Nigeria is a welfarist state, we just don’t know it. The majority wakeup to get there someday and forget about it all! Revolution my foot, We all see corruption to our faces and we do nothing about it and we are waiting for the great move. How many of us have walked out of that rich uncle’s sight knowing his wealth is filthy?! Justice is delayed everyday and the lawyers that fight for criminals are our friends, yet we smile at them and pray for intervention. A crazy lawyer is defending babalakin right now and a mad doctor claims he is ill. We should come together and give our own justice, take out any idiotic corrupt nuisance. One less idiot to bother about and the message for crime is sent! In Nigeria I trust!!! Individual Elimination of these bigots would help.

  43. I why; Jeph u’ the man! Bless you

  44. Very intresting artcle,thumbs up.

  45. Hmmm…just like the days of Noah many who didn’t believe the report of Noah were slept by the flood suddenly,so also in our own time too; this revolutionary flood will sweep those who do not believe and hear the lines and sounds from the many messagers-4 now everything is just building up to a
    climax(a series of events building up to a climax)like Noah we must prepare with lifestyle,good deeds and warn others from the impending cleanings!!!

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