By Femi Fani-Kayode
“If they ever tell my story let them say I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat but these names will never die…let them say I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of horses…let them say I lived in the time of Achilles”- the Iliad, Homer.
The words of Odysseus in Homer’s epic and ancient poem titled ”The Iliad” have always moved me. Those words are deep and profound: they stir my soul and rekindle my spirit.
How I wish Nigeria had it’s own ancient poets and great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Homer who could remind generations to come about our past exploits with their inspiring, compelling and historic prose.
Yet I look at our country today and I am not encouraged or inspired. Many have asked why I should say this. Permit me to answer that question by posing a few of my own.
I start by asking: is this the Nigeria of Murtala Mohammed and Theophilius Danjuma? Is this the nation that helped to liberate Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa?
Is this the nation that restored sanity to Sierra Leonne, that brought an end to a civil war in Liberia, that fought so gallantly in Burma, Congo and Somalia and that quelled a military coup in Sao Tome and Principe?
Is this the nation whose wealth once knew no bounds and whose middle class once owned the finest cars and properties in London, Paris and New York? Is this the nation whose beautiful people once graced the streets of Belgravia, Chelsea and Knightsbridge?
Is this the country that once nationalized BP and that gave Margaret Thatcher sleepless nights over apartheid South Africa ? Is this the nation that once stood up to the mighty Boers and whose ancestors studied at Oxford and Cambridge?
Is this the nation whose inhabitants and various ethnic nationalities once ruled vast empires and whose progenitors contributed so much to the traditions, religion and culture of Ancient Egypt?
Is this the country that once fought a bitter and brutal civil war, yet declared ”no victor, no vanquished” and, in the spirit of love, came back as one? Is this the country which has been through thick and thin and yet whose people remained ever so resilient and always put a smile on their faces?
Is this the country where giants once held court and where the greats of old once presided? Where did we go wrong? What has happened to our people and what has afflicted our country? When did our leaders become spineless cowards and deceivers? When did the green white green of our nation’s flag become soiled with faeces and when was it torn to shreds?
When did we shy away from fighting our own battles and prosecuting our own wars? When did we start bowing our heads in shame as events unfold in our country? When did we start sitting down silently as international newscasters speak about our nation in painful, disdainful and condescending tones?
What has happened to the ever courageous, ever smiling, ever confident and ever dependable Nigerian who shook the world with his arrogance and confidence and who spoke of his nation with pride and joy?
What has happened to our great army that was once the pride of Africa and that once made us so proud? What has happened to our great intellectuals and our men and women of courage and vision who once, like a collosus, bestrode the world?
What has happened to the stubborn and proud yet warm, friendly and profoundly good people that Nigerians once were? What has happened to the people that were once regarded as the hope of Africa and the pride of every black man on the planet?
Where and when did we go astray? How and when did it all go wrong? When did we lose our strength, our wealth, our honour and our power? When did we lose our excellence, our confidence, our dignity and our self-respect? When did we become so weak and so helpless?
When did we become so pitiful that the whole world mocks us and heaps insults on us so easily? When did they start saying that we have ”no serious government”, that we have ”lost control of large portions of our nation” and that we can’t even protect our own children? When did we become incapable of defending our borders?
When did we turn into a laughing stock and a reference point for incompetence, stupidity, cowardice, ignorance, evil and all that is bad to the rest of the world?
When did other nations start giving us lessons on how to fight insurgency and how to prosecute our wars? When did our people start clamouring for foreign armies to enter our land, violate our sovereignty and march on our sacred soil?
When did we start having to ask others to come and solve our local problems? O Nigeria, how are the mighty fallen. Truly ours is a nation afflicted. She is finished and there is little hope of any form of redemption or resurrection.
The honeymoon is over and the glory has departed. One hundred years of a forced and failed marriage has ended in a bitter yet undeniable divorce. We have lost it all and there is no going back. Those that wish to break up our nation for sport and bring our people to their knees have had their way.
Those that wish to watch us slaughter one another in an orgy of mindless violence and that wish to establish their AFRICOM in our shores will soon be here and we shall be occupied forever.
O Nigeria, how are the mighty fallen. I loved Nigeria but now I have stopped believing in her. She is saddled with many different sub- nations that were simply incompatible right from the start.
She is plagued and cursed with one particular sub-nation whose ruling elite are dangerous and unyielding, whose guile and deceit is second to none, who treat their own people with contempt and derision, who believe that they were born to rule, who think that power belongs to them, who suppress the religious and ethnic minorities within their ranks and who were taught from an early age that there is none besides them. Those people have killed Nigeria.
Our nation has become a cruel joke- she is a maliciously contrived contraption that has shattered many dreams and frustrated many ambitions and aspirations. This was a country that was created for the benefit of just a few at the cost of the misery and pain of so many.
I will never accept the idea of living in a nation with religious extreemists who slit the throats of children, who habitually slaughter the innocents and who abduct and rape small girls. Animals have no place in the homes of men.
It is time for us to stop pretending: let the terrorists and their friends in high places break away and establish their own country where they can marry as many young girls as they please and chop off as many limbs as they want. Let them form a nation where they can stone adulterers and turn women into chattel that are not even worthy of life.
Let those of us from the west establish Oduduwa and let us celebrate and enjoy our freedom from the bondage and ineptitude of a cruel failed state that has no soul and that lacks humanity and compassion.
Let us be liberated from the deceit that is known as Nigeria: a nation that once was but that is no more. Let us be free of Nigeria: a nation where injustice, persecution, insensitivity, impugnity, terror and wickedness reign supreme.
Let us be rid of Nigeria: a country where those of us that had the misfortune of being born on the ”wrong” side of the regional and religious divide are butchered for our heritage and can never be treated as equals. Give us Oduduwa or let us die.
Yet we will eventually take our freedom by force if it is not freely given to us. We shall take it by fire: by the shedding of blood and by our own bleeding if necessary. We will take it by sacrificing our lives if that is what we are forced to do.
What we will never do is continue to live in perpetual slavery in a nation that is afflicted with feeble rulers and peopled by religious bigots, sexual deviants and bloodthirsty terrorists.
We shall not allow ourselves to be consummed by the ineptitude of our present-day rulers and the sheer incompetence of those that do not have the courage or the moral authority to crush the beasts that have abducted our girls.
Timely are the words of Wole Soyinka, our only true sage and great thinker. On 9th May 2014 on BBC’s ”Hardtalk” he said, “if we don’t find the girls, then for me it will be better we sit down and decide that Nigeria is too much to manage. That it is easier, for instance, to manage a crisis of this kind or to prevent it if we were a smaller nation”.
The Nobel Laureate is right. I have had enough. I say goodbye Nigeria: give us Oduduwa or let us die.