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Descent

The writer of the article below will pardon certain liberties I have taken to edit the text.

I have had time to repeatedly contemplate the events that have befallen us as a nation in recent times and feel compelled to put down these words. Our Nigeria has become a conundrum within an enigma. Who shall resolve this riddle? Who will unravel Gordian knot? Our stories are outlandish as the Orwellian allegories.
 
The disasters that have in recent times befallen us as a nation can broadly be categorised in 2 viz: natural and man-made. The latter can be further broken down in to 2 sorts. There are those perpetrated by wicked people and then there are those that have resulted from people who should know better but certainly don’t.
 
I have often wondered where the slippery slope of mediocrity that we have embraced wholeheartedly and seem to now accept as a way of life will lead us.
 
This is a nation that has consistently lowered its standards, a nation were a 40% score is deemed a pass. Just a couple of weeks ago it was in the news that JAMB (UME) has lowered cut-off marks to 180 for universities and 160 for polytechnics and colleges of education. We are churning out of our education system and institutions 40% calibre people. We are seemingly celebrating averageness and allowing mediocrity build a castle in our land. Imagine for a moment that the owners and drivers of the petrol laden trucks that caused the debacle on the Lagos Ibadan expressway resulting in loss of lives and property were 80% calibre persons or that employees of FERMA and the various agencies that oversee the construction of those death traps called roads were people of distinction: would we have read about that carnage?
 
A litany of disasters; collapsing buildings, a democratically elected government that autocratically sacks its doctors enmasse, billions of dollars spent with power generation at almost similar levels, failed educational system (we are now at 27% pass rates in WAEC. Recall that pass mark is 40%. That is to say that only 27% of candidates who sat those examinations have above 40% performance). Schools where we learn nothing, hospitals that are no better than hospices, libraries that hold no books, pharmacies that stock fake or expired medicines. Where is our individual sense of pride and integrity?
 
It has come home to roost. Our acceptance of averageness. Our lackadaisical approach to life and entrenched of mediocrity have become our greatest dangers. We have unwittingly become a hazard to ourselves. We have probably sunken to the point where even if we want to do better as a people we neither have the capacity nor the sustainable will to do so. How sad!
 
I have read the many words of encouragement flying around the place, words which are fine in themselves but when put in context leave a bad taste in the mouth. They are akin to the bland platitudes our governments ever so often feed us with when ever these things occur. We could fill a library with those meaningless speeches; Diezani’s tears on Benin-Shagamu road, Jonathan’s promise to restore security, Yar Adua’s rule of law mantra which was more like ‘ruse of law’. It really is an endless list of drivel.  A system that allows an Ibori to become governor is a system to be feared. How did he pass all those security screenings that we are told State Security Service (SSS) carries out on aspirants? Is the SSS manned by ‘40% caliber persons’ too? That could be the only plausible explanation
 
And now, the Dana Air crash. Aircrafts don’t easily crash. There has to be a series of events or failures that build to a crash. Even a single engine shutdown in mid flight will not easily bring down a plane. The current system of keeping the airlines honest and flying safe depends a lot on the operators. For example, if they don’t log in a fault it is not easily known by our regulators that an aircraft is unfit to fly. By the combination of greed on the path of the owners and incompetence on the side of the regulators we constantly brew up dangers. Flying in Nigeria is literally “on a wing and a prayer”. We shall soon be inundated with stories of  bad operational practices at Dana and co. This will be followed by knee jerk reactions by government but none of the officials will be honourable enough to take responsibility for the failure and resign. No, not in a thousand years will that happen. It isanathema to the Nigerian mentality.
 
What happened to the promises made when the aviation intervention fund was set up not too long ago? What did we learn from the numerous crashes of the last decade? Can someone tell me what NEMA does? Do they have employees? What do they do daily?
 
If there was a chance of rescuing some alive it disappeared as quickly as the first in the crowd of onlookers gathered, gawping and impeding; the typical behavior of ‘40% pass mark people’ a mix of primitive curiosity and false belief in their ability to help. How on earth they would accomplish anything of note completely lost on them: untrained and themselves in danger. Unwittingly they aided an already bad situation in arriving at an epically shocking conclusion.  
 
When these disasters occur the very pervasive low-level intelligence and averageness around does not even allow the national conversation to attain transcendental heights. We often find ourselves wallowing in the quagmire of puerility and inane banalities; the steady flows of mindless claptrap often enough to gradually drive the intelligent minority to points of insanity. I find so often in trying to have decent well-reasoned conversations that the contributions leave me gob smacked. How can we advance if the mental capacity to envision great things is beyond us?
 
Starting from now and with me I resolve to always give my best and to demand it of others when I am in a position to. No more tolerant smile and acceptance of tripe. It is the start of my personal campaign. I will become a police unto myself.
 
When next I pay for a service, I will not accept low quality work. When someone tries to cut-in in front of me in traffic having driven against traffic, he can expect no sympathy. In every little way I can, I will crusade. People will learn to be much more accountable when we make sure they cannot easily shirk their responsibility. We should always insist on getting true value and give full value too.
 
We all may not be able to do something grand for starters but we can start to help today by educating ourselves a little more, trying a little harder and being less tolerant of averageness. If there will be any redemption, it will only come when we can once again be a people of standard.

Odi Okundaye
Church 4 Real
Church of God Mission Int’l

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Monday, June 11, 2012 Posted by | OpenZone | Leave a comment