On Tuesday September 1, 2020, I was 80 years old. If by this age anybody is afraid of death, something must be wrong with that person’s thinking. I have told this story to my son several times that when I started schooling in 1948, I spent one penny for my breakfast for a week.
That was two farthings a day, the food bought with two farthings then cannot be bought with N200 now. It was the age I passed out from Secondary Modern School, my son graduated from the university. My grandson started schooling at the age of two years.
The world is changing rapidly and the people in it just have to keep abreast of the changing world. I thank God that I was alive when Nigeria celebrated her 50th birthday and I am still alive at her 60th Independence celebration. I remember I told my story of an eye witness, when the Union Jack was lowered at the Independence Arcade at Race Course then, now Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.
Thanks to a Nigerian Army Captain who took me from the crowd amongst those standing backing Cappa and Dalbatos Office to an advantage area amongst the dignitaries who were mostly Europeans. It was providence that kept me up till today to tell the story again at Nigeria’s Independence 60th Anniversary.
Ilovethisnation; IjoinedtheNigerianArmy to prosecute the civil war in 1969. I ended up serving in the Armed Forces Medical Service (AFMS). My desire was to go to the war front, but as Godwouldhave it, when ourpapers were sent to Brigadier General Austin Peters, he said that his AFMS needed qualified young officers in the service.
I set up the first and only library for wounded soldiers at 68, Armed Forces Hospital, Yaba, Lagos. The library was stocked with books by UNO and the British Council. Nigerian Army sponsored me to read Mass Communication at the University of Lagos.
After the civil war, I have no more interest in the Army and so I resigned as the mission had been accomplished. It is true, ‘truth is bitter’. Nigerian politician hates truth and bitter truth for that matter.
They may call it hate speech or hate writing. That is why the nation is ebbing to her lowest standard and the centre no long holds. I read a story in one of my Daily Devotional Books, an old man was charged £5,000 for using the hospital’s oxygen machine for one day.
The old man started crying; when he was asked why he was crying, he lamented that he had been using God’s fresh air for over 60 years and he had not paid a farthing to God. Iweepforthisnation. Attheturnof acentury of Nigeria as a nation, politicians would have soldwhatbelongedtoallof ustothemselvesand nothing the rest of us can do about it. I remember there used to be a Nigerian Shipping Line. There used to be a Nigeria Airways.
There used to be a Nigeria External Telecommunications (NET). There used to be Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN). Perhaps the only establishment Nigerians can call their own is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a presidential candidate was telling us that he was even ready to put his life at stake as he would sell NNPC, if he wins the election.
The truth is that Nigeria is for sale is the attitude of every Nigerian politician. There is insecurity in every part of the country. We have been battling Boko Haram for almost 10 years now.
The man who braved it, to say that Boko Haram was being sponsored by bigwigs in the North was being harassed by the security operatives. If you tell them the truth, they would turn your statement into a hate speech. That is why people without conscience would never come out to tell them where and when they are going wrong.
There are many bad roads everywhere, the Federal Government has been on Lagos/ Ibadan Express Road of only 100 kilometres for over a decade and every year money was voted for the project, but the project was moving at snail speed. Shameless people. I begin to wonder whether these politicians want to carry money to hell or heaven! God will judge Nigeria.
On the fateful day of October 1, 1960, I witnessed the power of fireworks that had never happened in Nigeria and would never happened again. When the Spirit of Freedom descended on Nigeria in a few minutes, the Union Jack was lowered into the darkness of the night and Green – White – Green Flag of Nigeria rose up in the air.
The breeze from the Atlantic Ocean aided the flag to fly properly and there was a booming 21 gun salute to welcome the flag. It was a scene that has never left my memory and I would cherish it till I die.
One thing is sure, I cannot live the next 80 years on this planet earth and I congratulate Nigerians for their trust and believe in the nation. Just keep praying, Nigeria is going to be great in the world.
• Dr. Ajai, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos