I have enormous tracts of land and vast volumes of water, but cannot feed myself. So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion on milk. I produce rice, but don’t eat it. I have millions of cows but no milk. I am 50, please celebrate me.
I drive the best cars in the world but have no roads, so I crush my best brains in the caverns, craters and crevasses they crash into daily. I am in unending mourning, please celebrate me.
My school has no teacher and my classroom has no roof. I take lectures through windows and live with 15 others in one room. All my professors have gone abroad, and the rest are awaiting visas. I am a university graduate, but I am illiterate. I want a future, please celebrate me.
Preventable diseases send me to hospitals without doctors, medicines or power. All the nurses have gone abroad and the rest are waiting to go also. I have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and future generations are dying before me. I am hopeless, hapless and helpless, please celebrate me.
For democracy’s sake I stood all day on Election Day. But before I could ink my thumb, results had been broadcast. When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets. My leaders are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors. I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy. I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please celebrate me.
My youth have no past, present nor future. So my sons in the North have become street urchins and his brothers in the South have become kidnappers. My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and his cousins drown in the Mediterranean. My daughters walk the streets of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, while her sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam. I am grief-stricken, please celebrate me.
Pen-wielding bandits have raided everything in my vaults. They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private planes. They have looted the future of generations unborn and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes, but their brothers die of starvation. I want a kit of kindness, please celebrate me.
I can produce anything, but import everything. So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa; my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland; my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy; my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia; my biscuit is made in Indonesia; my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France. My taste is far-flung and foreign, please celebrate me.
My land is dead because all the trees have been cut down; flooding kills thousands yearly because the drainages are clogged; my fishes are dead because the oil companies dump waste in my rivers; my communities are vanishing into the huge yawns of gully erosion, and nothing is being done. My very existence is uncertain and I am in the deepest depths of despondence, please celebrate me.
I have genuine leather but choose to eat it. So I spend billions of dollars to import fake leather. I have four refineries, but prefer to import fuel, so I waste more billions to import petrol. I have no security in my country, but send troops to keep peace in another man’s land. I have hundreds of dams, but no water. So I drink ‘pure’ water that roils my innards. I need a vision, please celebrate me.
I have a million candidates craving to enter universities, but my dungeons can only accommodate a tenth. I have no power, but choose to flare gas, so my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at the glare of naked flares. I am shrouded by darkness, please celebrate me.
For my golden jubilee, I shall spend 16 billion naira to bash around the bonfires of the banal. So what if the majority gaze at my possessed, frenzied dance, drenched in silent tears, as probity is enslaved in democracy’s empty cellars? I am profligacy personified, please celebrate me.
Why can I not simply reflect and ponder? Does my complexion cloud the colour of my character? Does my location limit the lengths my liberty? Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul? Does my mien maim the mine of my mind? And is failure worth celebrating?
I am Nigeria, please celebrate me.